Postdoctoral Research Associate in Medieval History

Durham, United Kingdom
£34,304 - £36,382 per annum
26 May 2022
End of advertisement period
30 Jun 2022
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of History

Grade 7: - £34,304 - £36,382 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 2 years
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 30-June-2022, 23:59

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.

Our aim is to become a truly inclusive and diverse community, with a workforce as diverse as the landscape within which we operate. Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University. We are committed to equality: if for any reason you have taken a career break or periods of leave that may have impacted on your career path, such as maternity, adoption or parental leave, you may wish to disclose this in your application. The selection committee will recognise that this may have reduced the quantity of your research accordingly.

Durham University’s Athena Swan institutional award recognises and celebrates good practice in recruiting and supporting the development of women. We have also signed up to the Race Equality Charter, a national framework for improving the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education.

The Department

Following recent expansion, Durham University History Department is now one of the largest centres in the UK for the study of History. We are consistently ranked amongst the top departments in the country by the Complete University Guide, the Times and Sunday Times, and the Guardian University Guide. We place research at the very heart of our varied undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, inducting our students into a community of historians from the outset. Our research expertise and teaching provision extend from the late antiquity to the present day, and we are home to scholars of Europe, Africa, Asia and North America and of social, cultural, political, economic, religious, intellectual, environmental and gender history. We believe that this chronological range and breadth opens up possibilities of transnational, transhistorical and comparative work that tends to be the hallmark of ground-breaking research in our discipline. As a group of researchers, we are alive to the fact that historical questions constantly evolve, and we are committed to developing the intra- and inter-disciplinary breadth to respond to, initiate and shape the discipline and scholarship more broadly defined. This brings us together as historians and makes Durham an exciting place to work, research, and study. Current pre-modern research projects include: science in the Latin West and trans-cultural exchange with Islamicate thought; science and environmental change in the Mediterranean; the history of Christian theology; cities and urban communities; agriculture, social mobility and rural history; cultural exchange across the Indian Ocean; history of food; scientific study of manuscripts, and interreligious communications between the Latin-Christian and Arabic-Islamic sphere.

Durham University has an outstanding reputation in the field of medieval studies, and the Department is closely involved in the interdisciplinary Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, which brings together colleagues from across the University. There are also strong links with the Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures, the Centre for Catholic Studies and the Centre for Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, and the Centre for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East as well as with the departments of Classics and Ancient HistoryTheology and ReligionEnglish Studies and with the School of Modern Languages and Cultures (notably with Arabic, Spanish, Italian, French and German).

The Project

This is a project which examines Interreligious Communication in and between the Latin-Christian and the Arabic-Islamic Sphere: Macro-theories and Micro-settings. It is funded by the AHRC and the DFG (German Research Foundation) from February 2022 to January 2025 and directed by Dr Theresa Jäckh (Durham/Tübingen) and Prof Daniel König (Konstanz). Dr Chris Bahl (Durham) acts as Co-I of the group.

In the past thirty years, research has done much to refine our understanding of Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations in the wider Mediterranean by analysing political, economic, social, and cultural fields of interaction, by highlighting phenomena of mutual perception, transgression, and hybridity, and also by proposing models of interreligious interaction ranging from conflict to convivencia. Within these frameworks, scholars have formulated a large number of hypotheses to describe various settings and patterns of Jewish-Christian-Muslim communication. In light of the huge variety of interreligious communicative processes documented in the extant primary source evidence, these models and hypotheses have yet to be critically evaluated in terms of their complementary character, inherent contradictions, and plausibility.

Our project engages with the varieties of interreligious communication from a macro-historical and from several micro-historical perspectives. On the macro-historical level, it will collect, juxtapose, and systematize scholarly hypotheses on interreligious communication. On the micro-historical level, four sub-projects – of which this post forms one – will focus on a series of case-studies as a way of critically examining existing models and hypotheses dealing with Jewish-Christian-Muslim communication.

The Role

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Medieval History to work with PI Dr Jäckh as part of Interreligious Communication in and between the Latin-Christian and the Arabic-Islamic Sphere: Macro-theories and Micro-settings. The post-holder is employed to work on a research project which will be led by another colleague. The expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project through the development of their own research ideas. These ideas should relate to the history of Jewish-Muslim, Jewish-Christian or Jewish-Muslim-Christian relations in the Mediterranean. Researchers with experience of and/or interest in working with medieval legal texts are particularly encouraged to apply. Applicants should submit an outline of their proposed research and identify the corpus of sources which will form the basis for their project. They should also specify which language(s) (e.g. Hebrew, Latin, Arabic) they will use in their research.

Possible topics for projects could include, for example: Jewish communities in Muslim- or Christian-ruled territories; the corpora of surviving legal opinions and how these texts relate to, or provide evidence for, interreligious contact or dialogue; how different legal frameworks were chosen in different contexts; how the living conditions of minority groups differed from those of majority groups; how law functioned as a medium through which religious minority groups communicated, negotiated and arranged their affairs with other parts of society.

The post holder will work towards the publication of two high-quality, peer-reviewed articles, and they will contribute a handful of short articles to the online resource Transmediterranean History, a commented anthology of primary sources edited by the PIs. The post holder will share and discuss their work with the research group in order to present the outcomes of their research and to receive feedback on it. Furthermore, the post holder will support the research group in organising a three-day conference in Durham and work towards the publication of the conference proceedings. The post holder will (optionally) have the opportunity to spend three months of their time in Tübingen, Germany, in order to work more closely with the PI who is based in Germany. 


  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator
  • To prepare and publish high quality outputs, including two papers for submission to peer reviewed journals as well as a handful shorter entries to the Transmediterranean History Journal edited by the Principal Investigators.
  • To assist with the organisation of a three-day conference under the direction of the Principal Investigators and Co-Investigator, and to help work towards the publication of the proceedings.
  • To understand and convey material of a specialist nature to the research group through monthly discussions and presentations.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator and other colleagues in the research group to identify methodologies or areas for research and inquiry.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator, 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.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others.
  • 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 participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by attending relevant training and development courses.

This post is fixed term for two years. The funding period of the project ends in January 2025. Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by October 2022.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Theresa Jäckh (via theresa.jaeckh@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;
  • A 500-word summary of your past and current research
  • A 1000-word research proposal outlining the project that you would intend to contribute to the group (with a max two-pages bibliography including suggested source corpora), including anticipated publications.

Next Steps

Interviews for this post are anticipated to take place in week commencing 25 July 2022.

The Requirements



  • A good first degree in History or a closely related discipline (e.g. Islamic or Jewish studies).
  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in History or a related subject (e.g. Islamic or Jewish studies).


  • Experience in conducting high quality academic research.
  • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals.
  • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at national and/or international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Experience in working with research questions that relate to the rationale of the project.


  • A very good working knowledge in at least one of the relevant source-languages for this project (Arabic, Latin, Hebrew)
  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.



  • Working experience with legal sources
  • Publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.

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