Research Associate in Energy Attitudes, Behaviours and Change Potential

Edinburgh, United Kingdom
08 Jul 2018
End of advertisement period
30 Jul 2018
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Heriot-Watt University has five campuses: three in the UK (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Orkney), one in Dubai and one in Malaysia. The University offers a highly distinctive range of degree programmes in the specialist areas of science, engineering, design, business and languages.

With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, leading-edge research, which has made it one of the top UK universities for business and industry. We connect with industry at every level and develop programmes to match their needs – so employers get work-ready industry-fit graduates.

Heriot-Watt is also Scotland's most international university, boasting the largest international student cohort.

We have an established set of values that help us to nurture innovation and leadership, and show our commitment to continuous improvement and development in all our activities.

For full details on our University please view our Careers at Heriot-Watt http://www.hw.ac.uk/about/careers-at-heriot-watt.htm

About our Team

The School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society is one of the UK’s leading institutions for multidisciplinary research and teaching in areas critical to economic development and societal equity.  We aim to attain excellence in the teaching of the core disciplines that contribute to a sustainable, resource and energy efficient society and are committed to undertaking high value, high impact research and knowledge transfer in topics of relevance to global challenges.

The School enjoys facilities consistent with its location in modern, purpose-built accommodation on the Edinburgh campus. The School is well equipped in respect of laboratories for materials, structures, engineering, building services and hydraulics research and teaching.  Our research and teaching facilities in Dubai and Malaysia are contained within purpose-built campuses in Dubai Academic City and Putrajaya, respectively.


The School is one of the leading research centres in the UK. It has sustained a high reputation for the international standing of its research over two decades. Research within the School is organised into six Institutes, with the chosen candidate working within the Institute of Sustainable Building Design, but also closely affiliated with The Urban Institute. These Institutes support a wide range of research activities of relevance to a sustainable, resource and energy efficient society. Institute staff undertake research funded by research councils, charitable foundations, local and national government. Research outcomes are published in leading international and national journals and key findings are widely disseminated through other media and forms of output.

This research project is managed within the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society with input from the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Heriot-Watt. The Urban Energy Research Group comprises a team of experienced researchers in the field of energy and buildings, with a long track record in industry and research council funding. The individual will therefore be part of, and be expected to contribute to, a successful research team.

Our Institute of Sustainable Building Design (ISBD) aims to be world leading in architectural and building systems engineering, construction management and innovative building design. It delivers excellence in specialist areas of high value, high impact research, and postgraduate training across a wide range of fields covering sustainability, design and management in the built environment. Staff are currently working in building energy systems, acoustics, water and drainage, building simulation, low carbon innovations, construction management, and circular economy approaches, and are leading the way in providing research solutions to the challenges in these fields. Further information can be obtained at: http://www.hw.ac.uk/schools/energy-geoscience-infrastructure-society/research/cesbd.htm

The Urban Institute (TUI) brings together a number of related disciplines including urban planning, real estate and urban design. Academics and researchers in the Urban Institute are mainly social scientists, and work collaboratively with social scientists elsewhere in the University, and with colleagues based in the University of Edinburgh’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. This forms an important element of the strategic alliance between the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, including the joint submission of research outputs to the Built Environment, Architecture and Planning panel under REF14. Further information can be obtained at:  https://www.hw.ac.uk/schools/energy-geoscience-infrastructure-society/the-urban-institute.htm

Detailed Description

Community-level Energy Demand Reduction in India (CEDRI) is a three-year, £1.3M project led by Heriot-Watt University in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and Bombay, and NIT Tichy. Funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Indian Department of Science and Technology as part of the Newton-Bhabha scheme, the project will endeavour to find energy demand reduction solutions for communities in India that are sensitive to the operation of local energy networks, the evolution of the building stock, and behaviour and practices of Indian households.

The successful candidate will be involved in the work package that will be establishing occupant energy attitudes, behaviour patterns, and their change potential. The work will involve developing, conducting or assisting with a variety of methodologies, including interviews, questionnaires, and co-production workshops with Indian residents in two case study sites in India. The researcher will also contribute to report writing, oversee the ethical conduct of the research, assist in dissemination and knowledge mobilisation activities including publications, and support project management. The successful candidate will work in a multidisciplinary team and be expected to travel to India with the project team for meetings and sometimes by themselves to conduct research with Indian colleagues.

Key duties and responsibilities

The successful appointee will be expected to undertake the following:

  • Carry out research tasks independently and within a multidisciplinary project team
  • Help develop the social science research methodologies of the CEDRI project, considering data collection, analysis, and storage, and ensuring high standards of ethical conduct are maintained throughout
  • Develop and conduct interviews with Indian communities followed by qualitative data analysis, applying already established analytical frameworks and engaging in group analysis with project members
  • Help develop an energy behaviour and attitude questionnaire applicable to Indian residents
  • Develop and assist in co-production workshops for developing energy behaviour change strategies
  • Assist in management of the data generated, ensuring secure storage of all project data and project administration
  • Liaise with UK and Indian research colleagues on CEDRI and related projects
  • Publish papers and produce other output relating to the research
  • Assist academic duties of line manager as appropriate

Please note that this job description is not exhaustive, and the role holder may be required to undertake other relevant duties commensurate with the grading of the post. Activities may be subject to amendment over time as the role develops and/or priorities and requirements evolve. 

Education, qualifications and experience



  • A PhD, or near to completion, in a relevant social science area such as environmental psychology, social psychology, human geography , sociology


  • Experience in preparing, conducting, and analysing interviews
  • Significant experience in developing and statistically analysing, high quality, questionnaires
  • Research knowledge and understanding of environmental behaviours, attitudes, and/or identities

Competencies, Skills and Knowledge

  • Proficient in software tools for qualitative and quantitative data analysis such as NVivo, SPSS, or R
  • Good team-working and the ability to work independently
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Copes successfully with conflicting demands and pressures
  • Comfortable to travel to India for periods of time (potentially up to a month at a time)



  • Proficiency in a language of India


  • Research knowledge and understanding of household energy behaviours and attitudes
  • Research knowledge and understanding of behaviour change strategies (e.g. persuasive communications, social or environmental conditions)
  • Familiarity of organising and running co-production workshops
  • Familiarity with issues facing Indian residential communities, their energy related behaviours and energy systems

Competencies, Skills and Knowledge

  • Experience of working as part of a multi-disciplinary team
  • A developing track record of publications

How To Apply

Applications can be submitted up to midnight (UK time) on 8 August 2018

At Heriot-Watt University we understand that being diverse makes us better which is why we support a culture of respect and equal opportunity, and value diversity at the heart of what we do. We want to increase the diversity of our workplace to underpin a dynamic and creative environment.

Use our total rewards calculator: https://www.hw.ac.uk/about/work/total-rewards-calculator.htm to see the value of benefits provided by Heriot-Watt University.

You can find out more about the benefits of working for Heriot-Watt University at the following link - https://www.hw.ac.uk/about/work-for-heriot-watt.htm

Candidates can make informal enquiries to Dr Sarah Payne S.R.Payne@hw.ac.uk