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Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Geography

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Geography

Department of Geography

Grade 7: - 33,797 - 35,845 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 30 September 2022
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 12-Oct-2020, 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

About the Department Durham Geography is a vibrant community of over 60 academic staff (approximately equally divided between physical and human geography), a graduate school of around 100 research and 40 taught postgraduate students and more than 750 undergraduates.

It has ranked as one of the top ten in the world for 7 consecutive years according to the QS rankings and is recurrently ranked in the top handful of programmes in the UK by various league tables (currently 1st in the Times Good University Guide 2nd in the Guardian University Guide and 3rd in the Complete University Guide).

Our aim is to sustain and support hubs of leadership in geographical scholarship - broadly conceived. We will maintain our reputation for theoretical and conceptual innovation so that we are shaping and leading debates globally.

We will continue to engage concepts and materials from across disciplinary boundaries to renew geographical scholarship and bring geographical perspectives to bear in other domains. We work across every continent and most major oceans, and embrace the full diversity of methods and data available to the discipline.

We are further developing our core undergraduate programmes and will be recruiting world leading staff accordingly to ensure these programmes continue to offer the highest quality of education that develop students with skills to advance scholarly and public debates to which geography is central. The quality of our undergraduate students, and the degree programmes which ensue, combine with our large graduate school to provide a teaching experience for staff that is truly excellent.

Thinking, researching and studying globally

In Durham Geography we are committed to thinking, researching and studying globally - addressing the grand challenges of our age on issues such as climate change, security, sustainability, hazards and resilience, mobility, and urbanisation. We embrace different ways of working and thinking across the discipline and beyond that complement and extend the reach and impact of our geographical scholarship.

We seek people who are at the forefront of current key debates and will shape future ones. We seek people who value processes and outcomes, who hold the very highest standards in their research and teaching; who have a capacity and willingness for innovation and transformation in their research in ways that shape geographical understandings or who identify and pursue new areas of interdisciplinary enquiry.

We expect to appoint people who drive research agendas, while supporting a collegial culture of collective endeavour, openness and mutual respect; who demonstrate and welcome excellence across a diversity of theoretical and empirical approaches. Academics who inspire the students they teach and demand the best from them as they do from themselves. Scholars who, whilst delivering the highest quality education and research, also recognise the importance of the public benefit of their work through critical engagement with non-academic communities nationally and internationally.

Our research is organised around our seven research clusters: Culture & Economy, Geographies of Life, Politics-State-Space, Urban Worlds, Ice Sheets & Sea Level, Catchments and Rivers, and Hazards and Surface Change.

Across these clusters we engage in debates that move beyond disciplinary boundaries and actively engage with collaborators within and beyond the discipline, from the sciences, social sciences and humanities, in University Research Institutes (such as the Institute for Hazard Risk and Resilience, the Durham Energy Institute and the Institute for Medical Humanities) and Centres (such as the Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures). Our staff collaborate with colleagues in many other disciplines in Durham, and with other geographers and interdisciplinary teams internationally.

The department fosters a lively research culture, supporting workshops and events which draw in international guests and mobilise the talents of our doctoral students. It provides financial support to develop collaborations and projects, be they for seeking funding or creating outputs. We are engaged with a wide variety of local, national and international bodies in both designing and implementing work addressing many of the global challenges. The pages at describe our research organisation, cluster themes, staff and a range of active projects.

The Role

Applications are invited for a 24-month Postdoctoral Research Associate (Social Sciences, qualitative methods) to work on the ESRC-funded project 'Fraying Ties? Networks, Territory and Transformation in the UK oil sector.' Led by Professor Gavin Bridge, the project investigates the ongoing transformation of the UK's strategic position within global oil networks. The way the UK is 'plugged into' global oil networks is changing, in the context of a global shift in oil demand away from Europe, declining production in the North Sea, and growing action by governments and society to accelerate low carbon transition. Using social science methods, the project generates new knowledge about the changing role of UK territorial assets for international oil firms; and about the diversity, depth and durability of ties between these international firms and the UK.

The successful applicant will work with Professor Gavin Bridge (Durham University) and with Dr Gisa Weszkalnys (London School of Economics) to deliver one of the project's four work streams. They will join an interdisciplinary project team (economic geography, political science, anthropology) that also includes researchers at Platform (a third-sector organisation, based in London) and at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. The post involves fieldwork to conduct interviews and focus group research, and some limited participant observation at industry conferences and events. Travel will be primarily in the UK.

Responsibilities :

The successful applicant will make a key contribution to Work Stream 3 (Practices, Norms and Logics: case studies of transformation) which uses case study methods to investigate the practices through which oil firms with an international footprint establish and maintain ties to the UK. We anticipate case studies will focus on 2-3 key areas at the nexus of territory and international investment, with the focus determined in part by the skills and interests of the applicant. For example, candidate case studies include the evolution of the offshore licensing regime on the UK Continental Shelf, the development of oil trading practices in the UK, continuities and ruptures in offshore labour practices, and the development of an international supply chain headquartered in the UK. Each case will examine the intersection of actors, practices, institutions and values, and use a combination of desk-based methods, interviews, focus groups, and other qualitative methods. The successful applicant will be expected to organise and conduct case study research under the direction of Dr Weszkalnys who leads Work Stream 3. They will have responsibility for gathering and analysing data, and drafting reports and papers based on the research as part of the overall goals of the project.

The successful applicant will also contribute towards project management (Work Stream 4), including the preparation of outputs, liaison with stakeholders, and information dissemination in support of the project's scientific and impact goals.

  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator / Co Investigator.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator / Co Investigator.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator / 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 collaboration.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • 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 membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.

This post is fixed term for 24 months which reflects the availability of funding in Years 2 and 3 of the project. The post-holder will be employed to work on a research project, directed by Professor Bridge and Dr Weszkalnys. While this means the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in her/his 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.

Successful applicants will ideally be in post by 1 st October 2020.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Professor Gavin Bridge, Department of Geography, Durham University ( ). All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence

We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. . 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.

Please Note: Candidates applying via Redeployment are only eligible to apply for a post at the same Grade or lower.

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 sample of writing (e.g. research article, dissertation chapter)

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include a review of applications to establish a shortlist, and an interview with short-listed candidates. Letters of reference will be solicited at the time of short-listing. The assessment for the post will initially be based on the CV and covering letter. The cover letter must set out why you are particularly well suited to this position and be suitably evidenced.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment in Durham within 4 weeks of the closing date for applications.

The Requirements

Essential Criteria:

  • A good first degree.
  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in Anthropology, Human Geography, or a related subject.
  • Experience in conducting high quality academic research.
  • Experience in using qualitative data-gathering techniques, including organising and conducting research interviews.
  • Experience in researching issues related to energy and/or natural resource development and familiarity with the oil and/or gas sector relevant to the project
  • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals.
  • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Qualitative social science research skills suitable for political-economic and/or cultural analysis.
  • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

Desirable Criteria:

  • Ability to engage critically and creatively with relevant conceptual and methodological frameworks in anthropology and human geography
  • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.
  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including active participation in research meetings.

Realising Your Potential Approach

The Realising Your Potential Approach clarifies the behaviours expected to be demonstrated by all staff across Professional Services in the University regardless of their role. Along with the core responsibilities, role responsibilities and the person specification, the Realising Your Potential Approach behavioural indicators are used to inform the recruitment and selection process. Further information on the Realising Your Potential Approach is available here .

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.