Research Assistants (Fixed Term)

Cambridge, United Kingdom
Full-time and part-time available
Closing date: 04 October 2020

DEADLINE: Midnight (GMT) Sunday 4 October 2020

The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) invites applications for two Research Assistants, one full-time (37.5 hours per week) and one part-time 0.2-0.5FTE (7.5-18.75 hours per week) in the area of sustainable finance. The appointments are fixed term until 31 December 2021.

Centre for the Study of Existential Risk

CSER is an interdisciplinary research centre within the University of Cambridge dedicated to the study and mitigation of risks that could lead to human extinction or civilisational collapse.

The Centre  was founded by Lord Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal; Jaan Tallinn, the co-founder of Skype; and Huw Price, the Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy, to “steer a small fraction of Cambridge's great intellectual resources to the task of ensuring that our own species has a long-term future.” As Lord Rees says, “our century is special, because for the first time in 45 million centuries, one species holds the future of the planet in its hands – us.”

Our research focuses on how to manage extreme risks, including biological risks, environmental risks, and risks from artificial intelligence. We have a strong focus on delivering social impact and policy change. Our expertise has been sought by European, Asian and American governments, leading technology companies and the United Nations. Through our publications, expert workshops, and international conferences we have fostered a global community of academics, policy-makers and industry-leaders working to reduce existential risk.

The Role

The Research Assistants will support Dr Ellen Quigley, and other colleagues associated with the research project on sustainable finance, in investigating the ways in which the financial system can contribute to the transition to a zero-emissions economy. Project themes include climate, investment and universal ownership theory. The Research Assistants will undertake various research activities including assistance with literature reviews, workshop organisation, and fact-finding, and will contribute to the writing of research reports and publications.

We welcome candidates with a strong interest in addressing the climate crisis, and an understanding of how sustainable finance intersects with other systemic issues such as racism, colonialism, income and wealth disparities, and gender inequality. We encourage applications from those with knowledge of / interest in sustainable finance, climate science, energy systems, economics, or engineering, but degree-level experience is not essential. Financial analysis experience and / or quantitative skills is desirable. Ability to work collaboratively is essential, and experience of conference or workshop organisation is desirable.

Fixed term: Funding for these posts is available until 31 December 2021


  • Undertake basic research for the sustainable finance project, e.g. by conducting literature reviews or analysing data.
  • Assist the lead researcher in development and drafting of reports, academic publications, and other materials.
  • Provide administrative and organisational support for projects and events, liaising with the Centre’s administrative team.
  • Participate in relevant Centre-wide activities such as team meetings, work-in-progress seminars, and public events. This may include presentation of work of the project.
  • Liaise regularly with the lead researcher on research progress and event coordination.
  • Plan own day-to-day research activity within the framework of the project.

Candidates should have:

  • A degree or equivalent experience in a relevant field
  • Strong interest in addressing the climate crisis
  • Experience with or ability to quickly acquire knowledge of financial or quantitative data analysis
  • Capacity to work independently and conduct high quality research
  • Excellent written and oral communication and presentation skills

An enthusiasm and strong commitment to the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk’s core research aims is expected. The Research Assistants will be expected to undertake some work independently as well as participating in collaborative work with colleagues at the Centre. The Research Assistant is expected to conduct most of their research in Cambridge and be based there but may travel elsewhere for research, conferences and meetings.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying, please click on the 'Apply online' button on this webpage (or at the button below). This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System. Our hiring panel can only consider applications made through this system.

Interviews are planned for the last two weeks in October, subject to change.

The full job description can be found here.

If you have any questions about this vacancy you can contact Haydn Belfield; or about the application process, contact Helen Aston, HR Administrator on

Find out more & apply

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