Senior Research Assistant – Social Sciences


The RSPB Centre for Conservation Science is responsible for the science that informs delivery
of the RSPB’s conservation programmes for inspirational species, habitats and landscapes. We
are seeking an enthusiastic Senior Research Assistant (social sciences) to conduct qualitative
research on nature friendly farming in agricultural landscapes. Through participatory and
qualitative research, you will directly support the development of a landscape conservation
initiative with farmers in the Ely Nature Friendly Farming Zone. This and the wider research in
farming landscapes will inform RSPB’s food and farming portfolio on integrated strategies to
support farmers deliver nature friendly food.

What’s the role about?

This exciting 1-year position will provide research assistance to a project exploring the
social dimensions of nature friendly farming in three farming landscapes in the UK. One
landscape will be an arable farming landscape in the Fens, where you will work with farmers of
the Ely Nature Friendly Farming Zone, RSPB ecologists, GIS analysts and other experts to
develop a participatory landscape conservation map and plan. The other farming landscapes are
likely to include upland livestock or dairy in Wales, Scotland, or possibly Northern Ireland.
The successful candidate will collect data through interviews and participatory workshops on
the multiple factors that influence nature conservation on farmland, from individual farms to
whole landscapes. You will liaise with farmers and other stakeholders, organise and conduct
interviews, as well as assist in the facilitation of participatory mapping workshops. You will
assist in the management and analysis of qualitative data, support the development of a
landscape conservation plan and input into a report for one of the funders. The research
findings from the three farming landscapes will lead to advice and recommendations on how to
best support and facilitate wildlife conservation and sustainable farming across landscapes and
what leverage and support mechanisms are most appropriate. The successful candidate will be
based in Cambridgeshire, with an opportunity to work from the RSPB office at the Cambridge
Conservation Initiative’s David Attenborough Building, as, and if, required. The successful
candidate will be expected to travel to conduct research in other rural farming areas in the

Essential skills, knowledge and experience: 

  • A degree in social sciences (e.g. Anthropology, Human Geography or Sociology, or related
    fields) or equivalent experience.
  • Conducting qualitative interviews.
  • Managing qualitative data.
  • Organising stakeholder workshops.
  • Liaising and communicating with a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Excellent organisational and communication skills.
  • Self-motivated and able to work effectively alone, and as part of a team.
  • Ability to travel to remote, rural locations.

Desirable skills, knowledge and experience:

  • Facilitating participatory workshops or focus groups.
  • A knowledge of farming, farm wildlife and agricultural landscapes or ecosystems.
  • An understanding of the ethics associated with conducting research on human participants.
  • Report writing or contributing to scientific papers.
  • Analysing qualitative data.
  • Working in an interdisciplinary team.
  • Full driving licence.

This is a full time role for 37.5 hours per week, fixed term for 12 months.

The RSPB reserves the right to extend or make this role permanent without further
advertising dependent on business needs at the end of the contract term.

We are looking to conduct interviews for this position from 22 Jun 2023 . For further
information please contact [email protected]

As part of this application process you will be asked to provide a copy of your CV and complete
an application form including evidence on how you meet the skills, knowledge, and experience
listed above.

We are committed to developing an inclusive and diverse RSPB, in which everyone feels
supported, valued, and able to be their full selves. To achieve our vision of creating a world
richer in nature, we need more people, and more diverse people, on nature’s side. People of
colour and disabled people are currently underrepresented across the environment, climate,
sustainability, and conservation sector. If you identify as a person of colour and/or disabled,
we are particularly interested in receiving your application. Contact us to discuss any
additional support you may need to complete your application.

The RSPB is an equal opportunities employer. This role is covered by the Rehabilitation of
Offenders Act 1974.

The RSPB is a licenced sponsor. This role is eligible for UK Visa Sponsorship.

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