Research Associate in Computational Social Simulation

University of Glasgow

We have an exciting opportunity for a Research Associate in Computational Social Simulation to make a leading contribution to the research and data service activities of the UKRI-ESRC-funded Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC) working with Professor Alison Heppenstall.

Job Purpose

To make a leading contribution to the research and data service activities of the UKRI-ESRC-funded Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC). Specifically, working with Professor Alison Heppenstall, the job requires a background in computational modelling, particularly individual-based modelling approaches (agent-based modelling and microsimulation) within the area of urban analytics and social simulation. You will develop individual-level models, together with the underpinning methods, that capture and simulate the dynamic relationships between individuals and how these play out over time and space under a range of different scenarios.   You will play a leading role in the production of research publications and research proposals, and contribute to the development of UBDC’s Digital Footprints Data Service. You will help manage and direct complex and challenging projects, as opportunities allow.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

Perform the following activities in conjunction with the Principal Investigator (PI) as appropriate:

1. Take a leading role in the planning and conduct of assigned research and data service activities, taking responsibility for a core element as appropriate, in accordance with UBDC objectives and Centre/School/College/University research strategy.

2. Develop individual based models (microsimulation, agent-based modelling) to simulate the impact of different scenarios.

3. Deal with data from a range of partners, including undertaking data analytics, manipulation and linkage, maintaining records and databases, drafting progress reports and papers as appropriate.

4. Write up research findings/outcomes for publication in leading journals for disseminations as appropriate.  Document research output including analysis and interpretation of all data, maintaining records and databases, drafting progress reports and papers as appropriate.

5. Establish and maintain a personal research profile and reputation, and enhance that of the Centre/School/College/University.  Establish and sustain a track record of independent and joint publications of international quality in high profile/quality refereed journals, enhancing the research impact in terms of economic/societal benefit, gathering indicators of esteem and identifying opportunities for knowledge exchange.

6. Survey the research literature and environment, understand the research challenges associated with the project and subject area, and develop/implement a suitable research strategy.

7. Present work at international and national conferences, at internal and external seminars, colloquia and workshops to develop and enhance the research profile of the Centre/School/College/University.

8. Take a leading role in the identification of potential funding sources and assist in the development of proposals to secure funding from internal and external bodies, planning and developing a line of research activities.

9. Take a leading role in developing and maintaining collaborations with colleagues across the project and in the broader Centre/School/College/University and wider community (e.g. Academic and other collaborators/partners).

10. Take a leading role in team/group meetings/seminars/workshops and School research group activities to enhance the wider knowledge, outputs and culture of the Centre/School/College/University.

11. Take a leading role in the organisation, supervision, mentoring and training of undergraduate and/or postgraduate students and less experienced members of the project team to ensure their effective development.

12. Perform administrative tasks related to the activities of the project, Centre and School, including budgets/expenditure.

13. Contribute to elements of teaching within a clear and established programme and carry out associated admin as assigned by the Head of School and in consultation with PI.

14. Engage in personal, professional and career development, to enhance both specialist and transferable skills in accordance with desired career trajectory.

15. Undertake any other duties of equivalent standing as assigned by the Head of School and/or PI.

16. Contribute to the enhancement of the University’s international profile in line with the University’s Strategic Plan – Inspiring People – Changing the World.

Knowledge, Qualifications, Skills and Experience



A1 Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework level 12 (PhD) in computer science, statistics, mathematics, quantitative social science, or equivalent in professional qualifications and experience with evidence of personal development in similar role.

A2 Specialist theoretical and practical knowledge of computational modelling approaches within the area of urban analytics and social simulation.

A3 Sufficient breadth and/or depth of knowledge in specialist subject and of quantitative research methods and techniques to work within the subject area.


B1 Knowledge of project-specific data sources

B2 Knowledge of specialist IT software as appropriate

B3 Extensive IT and data analysis/interpretation skills as appropriate

B4 Self-motivation, initiative and independent thought/working



C1 Ability to analyse and organise resources in order to manage time and workload effectively.

C2 Research creativity and strong cross-discipline collaborative ability as appropriate.

C3 Ability to communicate material of a specialist or highly technical nature and to be effective both orally and in writing at a level appropriate to the activity, including public presentations. C4 Ability to apply policy, practice and procedures including broader University/sector external (e.g. commercial) awareness.

C5 Proven initiative and judgement to resolve problems independently and/or as part of a team. C6 Good leadership skills including demonstrable supervisory skills as appropriate.



E1 Sufficient depth of relevant research experience normally including sufficient postdoctoral experience in a related field

E2 Experience of planning and progressing work activities within professional guidelines or organisational policy, applying initiative and independent judgement.

E3 A track record of presentation and publication of research results in quality journals and/ or at conferences.

E4 Experience of independence as illustrated by identification of project objectives from assessment of literature, design and analysis of research data and drafting of papers.


F1 An emerging national or international reputation in research.

Terms and Conditions

Salary will be Grade 7, £37,474 – £42,155 per annum.

This post is full time and fixed term for up to 30 months.

As part of Team UofG you will be a member of a world changing, inclusive community, which values ambition, excellence, integrity and curiosity.

As a valued member of our team, you can expect:

1 A warm welcoming and engaging organisational culture, where your talents are developed and nurtured, and success is celebrated and shared.

2 An excellent employment package with generous terms and conditions including 41 days of leave for full time staff, pension – pensions handbook, benefits and discount packages.

3 A flexible approach to working.

4 A commitment to support your health and wellbeing

We believe that we can only reach our full potential through the talents of all. Equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of our values. Applications are particularly welcome from across our communities and in particular people from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community, and other protected characteristics who are under-represented within the University. Read more on how the University promotes and embeds all aspects of equality and diversity within our community

We endorse the principles of Athena Swan and hold bronze, silver and gold awards across the University.

We are investing in our organisation, and we will invest in you too. Please visit our website for more information.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Professor Alison Heppenstall, [email protected]

Vacancy Ref: 104969,    Closing Date: 10 April 2023.

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