Vacancies: Research associates and assistants for EARC heritage project

10 March 2022

We are currently seeking two Research Assistants and two Research Associates to work on a scoping project we are undertaking: ‘Heritage Engagement in a Regional Setting’. The deadline for applications is 28 March, and the project will start in April. 

  • The Research Assistants will help to identify the heritage organisations and assets in Kent, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, and to collate data relating to heritage in the counties. This information will be collected in a report to outline the state of heritage in the region.
  • The Research Associates will provide analysis of the regional Royal Society for Arts (RSA) and other relevant heritage data, and assist with the writing of the regional heritage report covering Kent, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. They will be expected to analyse key government policy areas relating to heritage, and to prepare a narrative around the data in order to explore themes such as coastal heritage; climate change and heritage; well-being and heritage; heritage protection; and the creative industries and heritage.


The project, Heritage Engagement in a Regional Setting, will identify the strengths of heritage across the Eastern Arc (EARC) region defined by the universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent. The project will seek to interrogate the data from the RSA Heritage Index (2020) to explore how the public can be encouraged to engage with heritage in a more meaningful way.

In 2021 a preliminary project prepared a series of three reports (Kent, Essex and East Anglia) that gathered information from the latest iteration of the RSA Heritage Index (2020). Eight local authorities across the EARC region were placed in the top 50 locations for heritage in England: Norwich was placed third after the City of London, and Kensington and Chelsea.

The region also contains the UNESCO World Heritage site of Canterbury. Seven authorities across the region are in the top 50 in the area of the Historic Built Environment.

The natural heritage and historic landscapes of the region are also recognised: twelve local authorities are in the top 50.  An overview of this analysis is available here (pdf).

The current project is particularly important for the museum and archives sectors, as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) Taking Part survey has identified a particularly low level of public engagement with them across England.

The growing use of digital resources by heritage organisations will be assessed to see how they are being used by the public at present, and how they can enrich the visitor experience especially through the use of virtual and augmented reality technologies.

The analysis of data relating to visitor numbers will allow the project to ascertain the varying perception of heritage across the region.

The data from the levelling up atlas will allow the project to demonstrate how heritage could contribute to well-being and other health benefits across the region.

The economic benefits from regional heritage will be explored through the data from Historic England (2020) that suggest that heritage in the south-east and the east of England is worth £8 billion GVA, ca. 20% of that for the whole of England.

The project will strengthen the heritage research interests and activities of the universities of East Anglia, Essex, and Kent. A separate, but parallel, project is underway at the University of Kent: it is expected that the EARC funded Research Assistants and Research Associates will collaborate with their counterparts at Kent.

The project will liaise with the heritage sector in the region by developing links with the regional Local Enterprise Partnerships (SELEP and NALEP), the RSA, the Heritage Alliance, and national heritage organisations such as English Heritage, the National Trust, and Historic Houses. The project will engage with key government priorities, such as levelling up, net zero, the research and development (R&D) roadmap, and the research will be used to inform heritage policies formulated by DCMS.

Project Aims

The main aims of the project are:

  1. To establish partnerships with local and national heritage bodies and organisations.
  2. To strengthen the regional academic interest in heritage under the auspices of Eastern Arc.
  3. To interrogate the RSA Heritage Index data for the Eastern ARC region to develop a regional heritage strategy.
  4. To inform public policy on heritage.

Project Output

The initial output from this project will be a report that will define and analyse the activities and contribution of the heritage sector across the EARC region. This strategic document will demonstrate the impact of heritage research for the region. It will reflect on the current state of heritage in the county by exploring three areas:

  1. The current challenges for heritage in the region.
  2. The actions needed to address the challenges for heritage in the region.
  3. The need to encourage public participation in and engagement with heritage in the region.

Person Specification

The person appointed as a Research Assistant will be expected to have the ability to identify and assess remote datasets for their relevance to the project. She/he will be required to present the data in a clear fashion using appropriate apps. Familiarity with the use of collaborative tools such as MS Teams and MS OneDrive would be an advantage.

The person appointed as a Research Associate will be expected to analyse and interpret data provided by the project. They will be required to present the analysis in a clearly presented narrative. Familiarity with the use of collaborative tools such as MS Teams and MS OneDrive would be an advantage.

Experience of, or interest in, archaeology, heritage or history would be welcome for both roles. Applicants should be current postgraduate research (PGR) students at one of the three participating institutions.

Time Commitment Each Research Assistant will be expected to contribute 15 hours at the standard university rate (currently £18.90 per hour).

Each Research Associate will be expected to contribute 24 hours at the standard university rate (currently £23.91 per hour).

Institutional Representation

It is hoped that each of the Eastern Arc institutions (the universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent) will be represented among the four EARC funded positions.


The project will commence during April 2022 and will be completed by 31 July 2022.

Expression of Interest

Applications for the roles should be emailed to Professor David Gill along with a short CV (not more than two pages) and a statement of interest in the project. Please state if you would like to be considered for one or both roles.


Monday 28 March at 12 noon. It is hoped to hold interviews by video during the week commencing Monday 4 April.

Further Information

For further information about the project or to discuss aspects of it, please contact:

A pdf of the job description and advert is available here.


Photos: Norwich Castle and Cathedral (c) David Gill

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