Senior Research Fellow/ Research Fellow focused on Afghanistan

Job Experience

Job Location

Expiration Date

30 Oct 2019

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) is one of the world’s leading research think-tanks in the fields of defence and security. RUSI’s Terrorism and Conflict Research Group includes research and related activities covering counter-terrorism (CT), countering violent extremism (CVE) and conflict. RUSI wishes to appoint a Senior Research Fellow or Research Fellow (depending on experience and capabilities) to work in RUSI’s Terrorism and Conflict Research Group. This role offers an exceptional opportunity for a researcher with a reputation and a record of achievement of working in and on Afghanistan to develop their profile in the field by leading on an influential and innovative research-led pilot CVE project in Afghanistan. 

RUSI will welcome applications from researchers specialising in Afghanistan and on conflict issues more generally. A strong applicant may also have focused on CVE policy, strategy or CVE practice (i.e. mentorship programmes, CVE strategic communications or education programmes).

They may have a Master’s degree or PhD in a relevant topic, or have made a contribution to the conflict field as a policy maker or practitioner and have recently turned to research.

About the Role

Afghanistan is a context of continuing conflict and fragility. The UN strategic review of 2017 reclassified Afghanistan from a post-conflict to one in active conflict. In the past few years, the Afghan government has also experienced a declining control of its territory, with the continued presence of the Taliban and other terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), adding to the deterioration in security. ISKP, in particular, has been targeting the Shia minority in what some observers believe are efforts to trigger sectarian violence. Also present are groups that may espouse similar ideologies but do not have armed cadres and have not been directly linked to violent attacks against the state or its supporters.

Whilst P/CVE is a relatively new field in Afghanistan, a range of civil society organisations have engaged in peacebuilding or conflict resolution activities throughout the years and are now moving into the field of P/CVE. RUSI has recently started a pilot CVE project working in Afghanistan. The project is designed to reduce the vulnerability of ‘at risk’ populations specifically focused on ‘high-risk’ returned migrants and host community members in Afghanistan to recruitment to violent extremist groups.

The successful candidate will assume overall management of this project, while reporting directly to the Director of RUSI’s Terrorism and Conflict Group. The role will require expert input into the design of CVE activities, close engagement with the Afghan government and the donor – the European Union and management of partner organisations and consultants working on the project. The Senior/Research Fellow will also have the opportunity to develop their own research interests into funded research projects.

RUSI’s Research Fellows are recognised experts in their fields, often with a list of significant publications, and a record of contributing to successful and highly regarded research projects. They are expected to make a significant contribution to RUSI’s research (projects, publications, events), to develop and attract funding for new projects, and to develop their academic and professional skills and knowledge when in post. These are busy, challenging and highly rewarding roles, offering the potential to become a high-profile, internationally recognised expert.      

The chosen candidate will be expected to demonstrate the following experience:

  • Demonstrated research expertise in an area of importance to RUSI, as measured by (a) record of significant publication outputs and (b) recognition by external peers (for example, invited to meetings because of expertise, cited in other publications)
  • Demonstrated ability to make a significant contribution to the development of major research project bids
  • Demonstrated success in contributing to the delivery of major research projects

Expectations when in position

  • Reports to the Head of the Terrorism and Conflict Research Group
  • Overall management of RUSI’s CVE project in Afghanistan
  • Expected to make a substantial contribution to RUSI’s other research programmes, and, within a research group, responsible for a significant part, of the Institute’s research
  • Opportunities to play a significant role in business development either in Afghanistan or elsewhere
  • Expected to have, and develop, specialised academic expertise within a relevant area
  • Expected to have some supervisory responsibility, for example partner organisations, consultants, other staff related to work in Afghanistan, project officers and interns

Job Specification

The Senior/Research Fellow will be responsible for the following:

a.            Conducting research on terrorism and conflict: specifically, overseeing research in Afghanistan in relation to CVE, more generally conducting primary and secondary research on terrorism, conflict and countering violent extremism for a range of customers/clients, such as the UK government or the European Commission; writing research outputs (published papers, analytical reports, commentaries, conference papers, presentations etc.); editing or supervising the outputs of other researchers (within RUSI and/or partner organisations); projecting RUSI’s research in academia, government, industry etc.

b.            CVE Interventions: Designing, in collaboration with the partner organisation/s, pilot CVE activities based around several key themes including but not limited to: building family, community and individual-resilience; preventive communications; building government understanding of, and capacity to implement, strategies to reduce recruitment to and risks posed by violent extremism in Afghanistan.

c.             Project management: ensuring that the project in Afghanistan and other projects are run effectively and efficiently, and achieve their desired outcomes; liaising with beneficiaries, partners and funders; supervising the organisation of events (such as research conferences) and publications.

d.            Communicating research and the results of the project in Afghanistan: presenting research to beneficiaries, interested stakeholders and other researchers; presenting RUSI’s work in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the media (print, broadcast and social media).

e.            Developing skills and expertise: maintaining and developing knowledge in particular in relation to the evolving situation in Afghanistan; developing research skills; developing a network of conflict/CT/CVE experts.

f.             Developing new research projects: identifying gaps in existing research and research questions that need to be answered; developing concepts for new research projects; identifying potential customers, stakeholders and sources of funding for new research; writing applications/proposals for research funding/tender responses; developing a network of potential funders and beneficiaries.

Person Specification

The job holder should be able to demonstrate the following essential and desirable knowledge, skills and experience:


  • Excellent qualitative or quantitative research skills, developed in post-graduate university research and/or a research institute (such as a think-tank) and/or a public, charitable or private sector organisatio
  • Working knowledge of Afghanistan including fieldwork experience in Afghanistan
  • Expert knowledge of conflict or counter-terrorism or countering violent extremism
  • A strong track record of contributing to research projects
  • Excellent interpersonal and teamworking skills, and the confidence to develop new relationships and maintain existing relationships
  • Excellent communication skills, orally and in writing (candidates must have fluent and idiomatic English, equivalent to C2 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages)
  • Excellent administrative and organisational skills.


  • Advanced skills in using applications such as Excel for research purposes, Atlas.ti and NVIVO
  • Experience of managing projects (of whatever size)
  • Confidence to present research in broadcast media.

Terms and Conditions

The Senior/Research Fellow will be a permanent, full-time position based in London.

A consultancy and/or part time position would be considered to oversee the project in Afghanistan. Please stipulate in your application if a consultancy is preferred outlining time availability for the next three years.

The Senior/Research Fellow will report to the Director of Terrorism and Conflict Team. Positions at this level are subject to a six-month probation period. Travel within Europe and to Afghanistan will be necessary. All travel for work purposes will be at RUSI’s expense.

Salary and Benefits

The salary will be in the range £40-60,000, depending on experience. Salaries are reviewed annually. RUSI offers several additional benefits, including:

  • Pension (6% employer contribution)
  • Season ticket loan and other benefits

RUSI London office is in Whitehall, close to Trafalgar Square. It is a short walk from several underground, rail and bus stops.

Equal Opportunities and Values

RUSI is an equal opportunity employer, and welcomes applications from all suitably qualified persons regardless of their race, sex, disability, religion/belief, sexual orientation or age.

RUSI’s values can be found here:

Application Process

To apply, please send your CV, a sample of your written work (preferably one which has been published) and a covering letter stating why you consider that you are suitable for the role to Michael Codner, Director of Personnel Services, at The closing date for applications is 30 October 2019. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interviews in London, and will be given a written test (no preparation required). Only shortlisted applicants will be informed.

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