Research Assistant

Durham, United Kingdom
£27,116 pro rata
18 May 2022
End of advertisement period
31 May 2022
Academic Discipline
Social Sciences, Psychology
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Part Time

Department of Psychology

Grade 6: - £27,116 (pro rata) per annum
Fixed Term - Part Time
Contract Duration: 8 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 21
Closing Date: 31-May-2022, 6:59:00 AM

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Less than 3 hours north of London, and an hour and a half south of Edinburgh, County Durham is a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The Durham Dales, including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are home to breathtaking scenery and attractions. Durham offers an excellent choice of city, suburban and rural residential locations. The University provides a range of benefits including pension and childcare benefits and the University’s Relocation Manager can assist with potential schooling requirements.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

The Department

The Department of Psychology at Durham University is an outstanding research environment, and the successful candidate will play a significant role in maintaining its reputation as a world-class department for conducting world leading research (including in developmental psychology). Founded in 1952, the Department of Psychology is consistently ranked as one of the very best in the UK with an outstanding and growing reputation for excellence in research. We are currently ranked in the top 100 of Psychology Departments world-wide according to the QS World Rankings. The department is committed to creating and maintaining a research environment that spans the entire breadth of psychology. Currently the department’s research falls within three groupings: Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental Science, and Quantitative Social Psychology. There is a vibrant research culture with a weekly departmental research seminar series.

The department is extremely well-equipped for research, including facilities for fMRI, TMS, tDCS, EEG/ERP, VR, eye movement tracking, and biophysiological recording. The department also has a motion capture lab for analysis of visuomotor action and experiments in immersive VR, a ‘bar’ lab for naturalistic studies in health psychology, and setups for psychophysics including an echo-attenuated chamber. The department benefits from full IT and mechanical research support from departmental technicians between 8:30 and 16:30 Monday to Friday. The Department is proud to be a Silver Athena Swan Award holder, recognising our commitment to advancing women's careers in STEM and promoting equality/diversity.

We offer a prestigious Psychology undergraduate programme (C800), a new undergraduate programme in Behavioural Science (C803), as well as a suite of masters programmes. Our single honours Psychology programme achieved 91% satisfaction with our students in the 2020 NSS and we are privileged to work with outstanding students who are attracted to Durham from across the globe.

The successful candidate will join the vibrant Developmental Science Research Group who host regular meetings and activities, as well as have the opportunity to join a host of exciting inter-disciplinary networks in the University such as those supporting early career researchers. The successful candidate will be a core member of the Centre for Developmental Disorders (www.durham.ac.uk/devdis) which includes researchers conducting a wide range of studies in the field of neurodevelopmental research – especially focused on Autism and Williams syndrome and they will be invited to join the North East Autism Research group.

The Role

An 8-month fixed-term Research Assistant (RA) position is available three days per week in the Department of Psychology at Durham University. The successful candidate will join the research project "Triple A- Attention, Arousal and Anxiety in School" led by Dr Mary Hanley and Prof Debbie Riby and funded by an ESRC IAA grant. The project focuses on translating research on barriers to engagement at school to make an impact with educators, by developing a manualised training programme for schools. A critical element of the project is engagement and co-production with our collaborative partners in the Communication and Interaction team at Durham County Council and with key stakeholder groups (teachers, educational psychologist, autistic people, parents and families). The ultimate aim is that our training programme will improve understanding of 'Triple A' difficulties in school and enhance learning outcomes for all children and young people.

The Project: The project has two core aims: first, to co-produce a manualised training programme to support Triple-A needs for autistic pupils at school; and secondly, to conduct a preliminary trial of the training with a small number of schools. The project will run across three phases. In phase 1, we will work with key stakeholder groups to identify the key components of the manual. In phase 2, we will co-produce the manual alongside an advisory group. In phase 3, we will trial the training with a small number of schools and evaluate evidence of impact. 

The Project Team:

The research assistant will join a vibrant research group in the field of neurodevelopmental conditions (inc 4 PhD students, a postdoc, another RA, academic staff). The grant is held by Dr Mary Hanley and Prof Debbie Riby, who will jointly provide RA supervision. The broader project team also involves the Communication and Interaction team from Durham County Council, who are our collaborative partners in this project (acting as advisers).


The successful applicant will be expected to carry out the day-to-day coordination of the project. They will also be tasked with the co-ordination of the development of the manual for the training, its promotion, and running the trial with schools and analysing the evidence of impact. The work will be conducted primarily using online methods (e.g. video conferencing), although there may be some face-to-face work required with schools. Data analysis will be conducted in SPSS. The RA will also be involved in reporting the findings back to the relevant stakeholder groups involved in the project. The successful applicant will be expected to actively engage with the activities of the Centre for Neurodiversity and Development. Standard RA responsibilities and specific requirements are listed in more detail below.


  • To understand and convey information which needs careful explanation to the team or group of people through presentations, discussions and meetings which contribute to the production of research reports and publications.
  • To write up results of research work, present information on research progress and outcomes to bodies supervising research in a clear and accurate manner.
  • To analyse or undertake basic research by deciding how best to apply existing methodology according to overall context and objectives. This will include submitting ethics applications, recruiting participants to take part in focus groups and survey work, running focus groups and surveys with stakeholders, analysing the data from focus groups and workshops.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.This will include interacting with various stakeholder groups (teachers, Educational Psychologists, parents, autistic adults and young people) as well as the collaborative partner (Communication and Interaction team at Durham County Council).
  • To contribute to the planning of research project. 
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by attending relevant training and development courses.

This post is fixed term for 8 months and this is set by the level of fudning provided for this post by the sponsor ESRC IAA. The successful applicant will, ideally, be in post in May 2022 or as soon as possible therafter.

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Mary Hanley, mary.hanley@Durham.ac.uk. All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.

We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. https://www.dur.ac.uk/jobs/. As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University.

What to Submit

All applicants are asked to submit:

  • A CV and covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include an interview. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an online interview and assessment in May/June 2022. 

The Requirements



  • A good first degree in Psychology or Education 


  • Experience in conducting basic academic research or providing research assistance, including the use of standard research methods.
  • Demonstrable ability to produce concise and well-written reports for a range of stakeholders, including a non-academic audience.
  • Experience of conducting research with autistic people.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of translating research to practice.
  • Experience of working in schools (for reserch or as a practitioner/pupil support/teaching assistant/teacher)


  • Demonstrable ability to work as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Ability to manage time effectively and work to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.



  • Masters degree in Psychology
  • Experience in conducting online questionnaire studies and focus groups.
  • Experience of conducting research in /with schools, families, or public sector organisations.
  • Knowledge of research on Triple A difficulties in the classroom (i.e. difficulties with attention, arousal and anxiety relevant to learning in the classroom)


  • Ability to liaise with a range of stakeholders (e.g. including schools).
  • Ability to contribute to the planning and management of research.
  • Ability to communicate research across academic and non-academic boundaries.
  • Ability to convert research into practice.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.

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