Jobs with RFS Corporate Members

Senior Social Scientist


Job details


£45,260 - £49,062

Hours of work

Full Time



Closing date

June 9, 2024


The role can be based in Alice Holt Research Station, Farnham GU10 4LH or in Northern Research Station, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9SY or in Forestry Commission Office, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1EJ with blended working which gives you the option to work some of the week from home, and some of the week from the workplace. You will be asked to express a location preference during the application process. Please be aware that this role can only be worked in the UK and not overseas.

About the Job

Want to work at the cutting edge of environmental science? Passionate about making a difference and playing your part in tackling the climate and nature crisis?  Forest Research (FR) is all about giving top quality evidence and advice to policymakers and practitioners to make a positive impact on the ground. Internationally recognised, we need people who have the skills and passion to work on excellent science and provide practical solutions for nature.

We’re small enough that your voice is heard, yet large enough, as part of the Forestry Commission, that we have everything on hand to get the job done, as well as a variety of career pathways.  Our staff are dedicated to their work and sharing it with others to bring positive change for our planet.  And you will find us a flexible and inclusive employer, so you can have a work life balance that is tailor-made to your circumstances.   Diverse perspectives and experiences are critical to our success and we welcome applications from all people from all backgrounds with the experience and skills needed to perform this role.  To find out more about FR, visit

The postholder will be a member of the Society and Environment Research Group (SERG). Members of the group are based at Alice Holt Lodge near Farnham, at the Northern Research Station near Edinburgh, and at the Forestry Commission national office in Bristol.  SERG scientists are involved in interdisciplinary research with colleagues across FR, and with universities and other research institutes in the UK and overseas.

Job Description

SERG is a dynamic, agile group of twenty social scientists focusing on four broad thematic work areas: 

  • Well-being and woodlands
  • Land manager behaviours in relation to trees and woodlands
  • Social dimensions of forest disturbances including tree health
  • Social dimensions of wildlife management and reintroduction

Cross-cutting issues include climate change, urban forestry and project, programme and policy evaluation.

The group delivers evidence direct to policy and other research commissioners, presents at national and international conferences, as well as publishing in a range of high impact journals.

Person Specification

SERG is seeking to appoint a Senior Social Scientist to undertake research across the group but will have a particular emphasis on the forest disturbances theme, which includes consideration of the social dimensions of storms, floods and wildfire as well as tree health.

Key Work Areas

  1. Contribute to the management of SERG research at senior level and that fit with SERGs research theme of forest disturbances. Including leading multiple research projects; organising staff, partners and other resources within projects; supporting staff with procurement and contracting where needed; contribute to research design, interpretation and reporting of data; and ensuring the delivery of milestones and outputs on time and to budget.
  2. Drive forward business development opportunities that fit with SERGs research theme of forest disturbances including tree health and contribute to long term sustainability of the science group. Work with other senior member of SERG and FR business development support to lead on proposal writing and bid development for new science projects, collaborations and funding streams.
  3. Lead on the production of a variety of scientific outputs and dissemination mechanisms with the Communications team to actively promote the research of SERG to different stakeholders and wider audiences.
  4. Work with the other senior members of SERG to develop the strategic direction of the group and provide leadership in aligning its activities with the wider organisational priorities of FR.
  5. Work with the other senior members of SERG to support budgeting of the group’s finances, budget and staffing forecasts.
  6. Line manage and empower staff to effectively carry out their roles, and develop their full potential in support of their own, and the wider goals of SERG and those of FR.
  7. Work closely with existing networks of stakeholders and customers, to understand customers research needs and policy priorities, and to represent the work and capability of SERG and to develop new networks.

Essential Criteria

  •  PhD qualification with substantial social science content within an environmental setting.
  • Demonstrable track record of leading multiple social science and interdisciplinary research projects of different sizes, including multiple partners. Evidence of significant science project management skills including staff management, allocation of resources, and an understanding of the complexities associated with driving applied social science with policy makers.
  • Experience of line managing staff and science team members including supporting and developing staff, dealing with, and resolving difficult staff situations.
  • Demonstrable ability and experience in social science research drawing on relevant theories, identifying the most appropriate methods to be used to gather evidence, and experience in collection and analysis of data and the production of suitable high-quality outputs.
  • Track record, ability and experience of using appropriate IT including data collection packages, data analysis packages, collaboration platforms, and other research support tools and supporting staff to use such tools.
  • Demonstrable ability to develop new ideas, relationships and partnerships that meet the needs of SERG thematic areas, and that support long term planning.
  • The post holder will need to be able to travel across the UK and potentially overseas to attend meetings, conferences, and undertake or supervise fieldwork

Desirable Criteria

  • A substantial understanding and experience of applying social science theories and approaches and relating these to forestry and woodland issues, particularly forest disturbances including tree health in the wider environment.
  • Experience of managing evaluations and assessments of the outcomes and impacts of interventions, projects, programmes and policies.
  • Substantial knowledge and experience of working with land managers (including e.g. farmers, foresters, small woodland managers, land agents, local authorities, conservation and heritage organisations, National Parks and AONBs), and businesses servicing the woodland and forestry sector, (e.g. plant and tree nurseries and producers, plant and tree retailers, arboriculturalists and contractors, timber processing businesses).
  • Knowledge and experience of working with stakeholder organisations and agencies active in the development of strategic approaches to forest and woodland governance and management, (e.g. Forestry Commission, Defra, Scottish Forestry, NRW, Natural England, RHS, HTA, ICF, NFU, BALI, Woodland Trust, ConFor, Arboricultural Association)

Full job details and how to apply.