Research Associate in the Department of Geography

London (Greater) (GB)
£40,386 per annum, including London Weighting Allowance
17 Nov 2022
End of advertisement period
03 Jan 2023
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Job description

This Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) position is up to 16 months (full time) and is based in the Department of Geography at King’s College London. We are looking for someone to begin in February 2023.


The PDRA will contribute to the Examining the long-term social legacy of mega urban projects research project which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council New Investigator Grant. The project examines the long-term social impacts of large-scale urban development projects by researching the social legacy of two mega projects in Shanghai and Dujiangyan (Sichuan province) more than a decade after their completion. The PDRA will be based in London and expected to go on extended field visits to Shanghai and Dujiangyan.


This project aims to offer a policy-relevant assessment of the long-term social harms, mitigated community damage and potential positive outcomes and experiences that stem from mega urban projects, which have become a dominant mode of urban expansion and renewal across the globe. By drawing on the case of China, this project seeks to deliver a more nuanced and long-term understanding of the social legacy of mega projects that focuses on whether and how residents are able to rebuild their material and social livelihoods.


As part of the project, the PDRA will be required to work closely with the project PI (Dr Zheng Wang) to develop two detailed case studies in Shanghai and Dujiangyan. The PDRA will be expected to contribute to the i) collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data in both cities ii) writing, publication and dissemination of key project findings iii) organisation of workshops and conference sessions. The PDRA will be an active member of the KCL Urban Futures Research Group.


This post will be offered on a full-time, fixed term contract for 16 months. However, the latest possible end date for this contract is 31 July 2024.


Key responsibilities

  • Interview key actors in both cities including policy-makers, developers, residents, community representatives etc.
  • Manage and participate in a household survey in Shanghai.
  • Undertake documentary research and collect secondary sources relevant to the case studies.
  • Analyse qualitative and quantitative data from both case studies.
  • Writing and disseminating project findings (including co-authored journal publications, policy briefs, presenting at conferences).
  • Meet the PI regularly to co-ordinate work across both case studies.
  • Arrange or assist in arranging meethings, seminars, conferences and workshop associated with the grant.
  • Contribute to the development and maintenance of a public-facing website.

The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive, and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks and responsibilities as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post.

Skills, knowledge, and experience

Essential criteria

1.       Hold a PhD degree (or equivalent) in urban planning, human geography, sociology or related discipline.

2.       Academic background and/or proven research ability in themes related to urban governance or community/neighbourhood studies.

3.       Excellent written and spoken command of both Chinese and English.

4.       Experience in conducting qualitative research (participant observations, ethnography or interviews) in China.

5.       Excellent oral, written and visual communication skills

6.       Good interpersonal and facilitation skills.

7.       Willingness to travel to China. You must have a RTW to work in China, this can include holding a Chinese Passport or eligible to apply for a Chinese Visa.


Desirable criteria

1.       Experience in researching residents in Chinese cities.

2.       Academic background in urban China research especially in relation to urban development or governance or neighbourhood and community studies.

3.       Experience in analysis survey data.


Please note that this is a PhD level role but candidates who have submitted their thesis and are awaiting award of their PhDs will be considered. In these circumstances the appointment will be made at Grade 5, spine point 30 with the title of Research Assistant. Upon confirmation of the award of the PhD, the job title will become Research Associate and the salary will increase to Grade 6. 

Further information

Shortlisted applicants will be expected to attend an online interview where the applicant will have to converse in Chinese for 10-15 minutes. The rest of the interview will be conducted in English. For short-listed applicants, interviews will be held in the 1-2 weeks following the application date submission


The Department of Geography at King’s College London ( was established independently in 1947 and is a vibrant community of over 700 students (including over 100 PhD students), and 100 academic, teaching and research staff. We host two undergraduate and six master’s programmes. We undertake field research in over 95 countries across seven continents. Our holistic approach encompasses both human and physical geography perspectives on global challenges and pressing environmental, geopolitical, urban and rural issues. Our research findings contribute to public debates and policy development at national and international scales, making important contributions to climate change, disasters, smart cities, risk regulation, water, human migration and wildfire hazards. We are also deeply committed to tackling pressing matters of social justice around the world.

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