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Department of Computer Science

  • Grade 7: - £34,304 - £40,927 per annum
  • Fixed Term - Full Time
  • Contract Duration: 33 Months
  • Contracted Hours per Week: 35
  • Closing Date: 09-May-2022, 11:59:00 PM
  • Job Number: 22000546

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 Computer Science is rapidly expanding – it tripled in size over the last 4 years and now has around 50 academic faculty. A new building, joint with Mathematical Sciences, to house the expanded Department has recently been inaugurated, and it hosts all our academics, our students, and experimental kit. The current Department has research strengths in algorithms and complexity, in artificial intelligence and human systems, networks, scientific computing, and computer vision, visualisation, and imaging. The Department of Physics is the home department of the Institute of Computational Cosmology which is one of the international flagship research places for computational astrophysics and plays a pivotal role to obtain new scientific insight through (super-)computing. Hosted in an award-winning building, its researchers have access to the Tier-2 supercomputer COSMA as well as multiple experimental hardware cluster.

For more information, please visit our Department pages at https://www.durham.ac.uk/departments/academic/computer-science/

The Role

Durham University and Newcastle University seek to appoint a total of 9 postdoctoral researchers for the EPSRC funded project ‘AGENCY: Assuring Citizen Agency in a World with Complex Online Harms’. We invite applications of candidates from a variety of disciplines to become part of an exciting, multidisciplinary research project incorporating scholars from Computing (including AI, HCI, and Cyber Security), Sociology, Ethics, Business, and Law. The team’s research aims to protect citizens and society from online harms such as hate speech, misinformation, issues around self-image, and domestic violence during a pandemic. Specifically, AGENCY researches how to provide end-users with control (‘agency’) over their online experiences. The team will design new citizen-centred technologies, influence policy and contribute to new ethical frameworks.

See http://agencyresearch.net for more information on all available posts.

The ideal candidate for this role is a capable and independent researcher who has expert working knowledge in the field of Human-Centred Artificial Intelligence, with experience using human-centred approach to the design and development of AI-powered interactive systems with ethical, legal, and societal values. Your work explores an AI-based component that assists the end user (in a privacy and agency preserving manner), recommending tailored features of the platform and providing an adaptive and personalised user experience. You will work in an interdisciplinary team to iteratively test how tailored features can increase the usability of the platform and users’ motivation and engagement in performing these activities, as well as how performing these activities can deter and reduce the instances of online harms. You will become a member of Haii Lab (https://haii.webspace.durham.ac.uk) based in the AIHS Research Group (https://aihs.webspace.durham.ac.uk) in the Department of Computer Science at Durham University. You will work with Dr Lei Shi, who is available for informal inquiries at lei.shi@durham.ac.uk.

As member of the AGENCY project team, you will work in an inclusive, interdisciplinary team. You will be provided with individual career support and be part of a national network of related research projects (see http://agencyresearch.net). The research will be guided by case studies, including personal health devices, digital identity management, smart homes and online disinformation. You will help shape the specific research associated with the case studies in collaboration with a variety of external partners.


  • 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 or Grant-holder.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
  • 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 33 months.

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.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by 1st June 2022.

The Requirements


1. Qualifications

  • A good first degree in Computer Science, Data Science, Cognitive Science, Psychology, Design, Engineering, or similar.
  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in Artificial Intelligence, Human-Computer Interaction, or a related subject.

2. Experience

  • 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 international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Experience in design, development, and evaluation of AI-powered systems.

3. Skills

  • 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.


4. Experience

  • 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.
  • Experience of overseeing students with respect to the development of their practical/research skills e.g. acting as a demonstrator; supervising student projects/practicals.
  • Expertise in personalisation, adaptation, gamification, motivational theories, explainable machine learning, bias in machine learning, behavioural analysis, user modelling, interaction design, user experience design.

5. Skills

  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Lei Shi (lei.shi@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.durham.ac.uk/job-vacancies. 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.
  • A covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above.
  • Highlight contributions to scientific open-source code if appropriate.
  • Up to three scientific papers.

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include the reading of all submitted material and an analysis of any software referenced. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment.

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