Post-Doctoral Researcher (38-2019)

Hours per week: Full Time, 35 hours per week
Contract Type: Fixed Term (24 months)
Grade: Grade 7
Salary: £36159 to £41196  per annum
Closing Date: 23.59 hours GMT on Thursday 05 December 2019
Interview Date: 03/01/2020

Who We Are

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is a global research and learning organisation for equitable and sustainable change.

Our Vision

Our vision is of equal and sustainable societies, locally and globally, where everyone can live secure, fulfilling lives free from poverty and injustice.

What We Do

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is a global research and learning organisation for equitable and sustainable change. 

In partnership with the University of Sussex, IDS is ranked first in the world for development studies by the QS University Rankings.

We believe passionately that cutting-edge research, knowledge and mutual learning are crucial in shaping the transformations needed to reduce inequalities, accelerate sustainability and build more inclusive and secure societies. In line with our engaged excellence approach, we are committed to collaborating closely with local civil society, governments, international NGOs, citizens, donors and many others to realise this positive change.

IDS has been working with partners to tackle complex development challenges in this way since 1966.  Our partnership with the University of Sussex supports and accredits our master’s degrees and PhD research programmes.  We also offer a range of thematically and approach-focused professional development courses, learning journeys and online and blended learning.  Through our learning offer we aim to strengthen the skills and capabilities of those already working within the development sector, as well as nurture a new generation of development thought, policy and practice leaders.  

IDS publishes a wide range of high quality and high impact outputs, including our flagship publication, the IDS Bulletin, an open access, peer-reviewed journal exploring emerging international development challenges.  

The Institute is home to over 200 staff and 200 students at any one time. But the IDS community extends far beyond, encompassing an extensive global network of over 360 partners, 3,000 alumni and hundreds of former staff.

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Job Description

Overall purpose of the role:

Post-doctoral research posts at IDS provide the opportunity for recent PhD graduates to develop further research experience, in collaboration with more senior colleagues. This is seen as a transitional position between a PhD and a longer-term research career. The position should also provide opportunity for the Post-doctoral post holder to write and publish, either collaboratively with others, or drawing from their own work, but the time and structure of this will depend on the nature of the funding for the post. 

The post-doctoral Researcher will undertake an agreed programme of work, normally over a two year period, suitable to their funding source. This particular post involves a post-doctoral research position in the project titled ‘Sustaining Power: Women’s struggles against backlash in contemporary South Asia’, an ESRC-funded five year project. He or she will also contribute to the development of new research projects, and may also undertake consultancy assignments directly related to their area of expertise.

The SuPWR project aims to understand the strategies and mechanisms through which women’s movements are able to retain power and sustain gains against backlash and counter attacks. This is especially pertinent to capture in the South Asian context of deep patriarchal structures and persistent gender inequalities, yet also containing activism and a diversity of on-going and highly contentious women’s struggles. Accordingly, the project will examine 16 cases of women’s struggles across four countries: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan; working collaboratively with these struggles to deliver contextualised and relevant knowledge that is co-constructed with women’s struggles and research partners. We will track normative and institutional change processes in four institutional spaces of struggle vital to the empowerment of women – family, community, market and the state. This research is particularly interested in women’s own understandings of power and struggle in these four institutional spaces, and how these change over time. The project’s work and ambit is deeply political, and the post-doctoral researcher will contribute to our conceptualisation of how power is gained, sustained and retained in the face of backlash, as well as creating learning opportunities across women’s struggles. 

The work will be under the direction and line management of the Principal Investigator of this project. The line manager is responsible for induction, appraisal, support and ongoing management to support excellent performance, though these activities can be designated to other senior colleagues by agreement. 

The line manager will support the Post-doctoral Researcher to achieve a programme of published work and in the second year of the post, to identify and pursue suitable future funding opportunities, building up independent fundraising skills. The income target is currently 192 days. In the event that funding at the expected level is not secured, a number of supportive steps will be followed, as set out in the RARO/PDR policy.

The Post-doctoral Researcher will also be a member of the Governance Cluster, whose leader and members can be expected to provide broader intellectual support, but who are not responsible for fundraising or career progression. The Governance research cluster works across a number of thematic areas that are focused on ensuring citizens are represented and governed fairly in a world of changing state authorities. Members of the cluster have an interest in the politics of public policy, tax and public finance management, gender and politics, decentralisation, democratisation and accountability.

Postdoctoral Researchers will have a ‘career progression review’ towards the end of their two years in post, conducted by a designated small group of IDS research leaders and managers, to take stock of performance and advise on career development prospects.  

All post-doctoral Researchers are additionally welcome to take advantage of the Institute’s mentoring scheme. 


The responsibilities of the Postdoctoral Researcher include: 

Research activities


Person Specification

Skills and experience
Selection Criteria Description Essential [E] or
Desirable [D]
by *
• PhD in relevant discipline;
• Demonstrate appropriate record of academic outputs
• Any training/ module in Gender Studies; Feminist theory D A/I
• Broad, varied and in-depth knowledge of the theoretical and practical literature on women’s rights and gender justice
• Fluency in spoken and written English
• Strong grounding in the understanding of power (including your own positionality)
• Specific knowledge of literature on backlash and power struggles D A/I
• Substantial work, research and/or programme/ fieldwork experience on developing countries or relevant roles
• Research experience in South Asia
• Experience of production of research outputs, demonstrated by appropriate record of working papers and reports.
• Experience of designing and conducting a research study including secondary and primary research – involving primarily qualitative methods (including interviews, participatory tools and political economy analysis)
• Experience of conducting fieldwork in isolated conditions
• Experience of literature review and working with ‘grey literature’
• Experience of data management and analysis – including use of software such as Nvivo and Endnote/Zotero
• Experience of writing for a variety of audiences – including academic (journals, book reviews) and non-academic (reports, papers, online material)
• Experience of quantitative research (including comparative research)
• Experience in the development of research proposals
• Experience of teaching at university level and development of teaching materials
• Experience of turning research findings into policy-relevant outputs (eg policy briefings; effective communication or dissemination events or products)
• Excellent analytical, research methods (qualitative and quantitative) and writing skills, demonstrated by a record of projects, publications and reports
• Ability to translate academic knowledge into policy and practice-relevant outputs
• Strong organizational and time management skills, including the ability to manage a complex workload, and work with budgets.
• Strong interpersonal skills, including:
- Ability to work with researchers and women’s struggles from a variety of backgrounds and in a variety of contexts, including overseas
- Ability to work collaboratively in multi-disciplinary and mixed skill teams (e.g. researchers and practitioners);
- Skills in negotiation, problem-solving and decision-making – especially with partners
• Production of teaching materials for post-graduate students
• Use of ICTs for dissemination of research methods and findings
• Spoken and written communication abilities for a range of audiences
• Language skills for working in South Asia (preferably a reasonable working grasp of spoken Hindi/ Urdu)
• Self-motivated, goal-oriented, enthusiastic and entrepreneurial attitude
• Demonstrated capacity for leadership and innovation in the field
• Commitment to team and collaborative working
• Problem-solving approach
• Ability and initiative to work autonomously, with minimal supervision, in a fast-paced environment, working to rapid deadlines, with the ability to prioritise, communicate and manage
• Passionate about women’s rights and gender justice
• Sensitive and agile to be able to work with women’s struggles and research partners.
*A - Application I - Interview

Information to Candidates

Benefits At IDS we offer a number of additional benefits to staff. These include:

The successful candidate will be based at the Institute of Development Studies on the University of Sussex campus. The University of Sussex is located 10 minutes away from the lively and cosmopolitan seaside city of Brighton on the UK South Coast, 60 minutes away from central London, 30 minutes away from London Gatwick Airport and is surrounded by the beautiful countryside of the Sussex South Downs. Situated between the sea and the South Downs, Brighton is one of the most vibrant and unique cities on the South Coast, for more information please go to

How to apply

Please apply using the online application form.