Post-Doctoral Researcher (44-2020)

Hours per week: Full Time, 35 hours per week
Contract Type: Fixed Term (24 months)
Grade: Grade 7
Salary: £36810 to £48654  per annum
Closing Date: 23.59 hours GMT on Monday 16 November 2020
Interview Date: 11/12/2020

Who We Are

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) delivers world-class research, learning and teaching that transforms the knowledge, action and leadership needed for more equitable and sustainable development globally.

Our Vision

We want a more equitable and sustainable world, where people everywhere can live their lives free from poverty and injustice.

What We Do

Through equitable and sustainable partnerships, we work with governments, philanthropic foundations, non-governmental organisations, academics and civil society to transform approaches to progressive social, political and economic change in ways that ultimately make a difference to people’s lives. 

We have helped foster innovative new partnerships that have generated millions of dollars in additional tax revenues in Africa that can be reinvested in countries’ national development. We have worked to provide solutions to environmental problems that build on local people’s knowledge and practices. We have highlighted the role of local communities in bringing an end to deadly epidemics like the Ebola virus.  We have nurtured hundreds of exceptional development leaders and champions including political leaders, country Ambassadors and government officials, civil society leaders and entrepreneurs.

Our reputation for research and international outlook is second to none and reflected in our performance in the latest QS World University Rankings where we are ranked first in the world for development studies, together with the University of Sussex. We are also ranked as the number one international development think-tank by the 2019 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report.

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Job Description

IDS plans to appoint a Post-doctoral Researcher (PDR) to work on sanitation on the ESRC funded project: 'Towards Brown Gold? Re-imagining off grid sanitation in rapidly urbanising areas in Asia and Africa (Brown Gold)'. 

The PDR will be a member of the Resource Politics and Environmental Change Cluster, whose research seeks to tackle the complex challenges of climate disruption, environmental change and resource scarcity. Specifically, the Cluster’s research and engagement focuses on three overlapping themes: 1) Political economy and environmental change; 2) Climate and environmental justice; and 3) Scarcity, security and resilience. 

'Brown Gold' focuses on marginality, sanitation and wastewater challenges in five growing towns in Ethiopia, Ghana, India and Nepal. While toilet coverage has increased in all these towns due to massive and capital intensive sanitation campaigns, they have neglected a portion of the population, in particular, poor residents, migrants, lower castes, landless slum-dwellers and scavengers who are still denied their basic rights to clean water and safely managed sanitation. They live in areas not connected to centralised systems and are unlikely to be in the foreseeable future. This has important social and health consequences for these communities linked to the invisible flows of dangerous pathogens and water quality contamination. We view these challenges as an opportunity to rethink and reimagine these off-grid areas that fall beyond central urban planning as a fertile ground for social and technological innovations that are people centred, sustainable, equitable and in line with the idea of the circular economy. Indeed, faecal sludge is rich in water, nutrients and organic compounds, but the potential of this 'brown gold' remains hidden in the sludge and thus largely untapped. We will explore ways to re-use shit with the view to ensure that these innovations help address the sanitation crisis, enhance local livelihoods and the local and regional economies and the well-being of the excluded and marginalised. 

The PDR will work with IDS and the University of Brighton, and will be expected to work across the social science (IDS) and arts and humanities (University of Brighton) components of the project. 

Responsibilities will include: 

Research activities 

Collaborations and networking 

Teaching and learning 


The Post-doctoral Researcher position is a fixed term position for two years, with the possibility of extension for a further two. It is fully funded in the first year and 75% funded in year two, by which time individuals will be expected to start to diversify their funding and pursue funding opportunities. Some co-funding opportunities could emerge from other projects on sanitation (e.g the UEA/Warwick-led Gastropak project on Quantifying the Transmission Routes of Gastroenteritis in Pakistan and Developing Targeted Interventions). 

This project is funded by the MRC and IDS will provide some small qualitative social science inputs. With support and training the aim is for the Post-doctoral Researcher to develop their own portfolio of work. 

It is anticipated that for the right candidate this role could eventually lead to the possibility of application to a Fellowship position at IDS, subject to a vacancy arising and meeting the required standards as assessed by the Fellow Review and Promotion Board.


Person Specification

Skills and experience
Selection Criteria Description Essential [E] or
Desirable [D]
by *
• PhD in relevant discipline;
• Demonstrate appropriate record of academic outputs
• Broad, varied and in-depth knowledge of the theoretical and practical literature on urbanisation and sanitation
• Knowledge and skills in participatory arts-based research methods
• Fluency in spoken and written English
• Substantial work, research and/or programme experience on developing countries or relevant roles
• Experience of designing and conducting a research study including secondary and primary research
• Experience of conducting fieldwork in isolated conditions
• Experience of project managing participatory arts with community groups
• Experience of literature reviews and working with ‘grey literature’
• Experience of data management and analysis
• 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 creative methods) and writing skills, demonstrated by project experience and/or publications and reports
• Ability to translate academic knowledge into policy and practice-relevant outputs
• Strong interpersonal skills, including:
• Ability to work with researchers 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
• Strong organisational and time management skills, including the ability to manage a complex workload
• 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
• Languages (spoken and read beyond English)
• 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
• Willingness and ability to travel internationally E A/I
*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.