This is a National Role

Job description

The team  

Do you have a passion for nature and the environment? Do you want to make a real difference and secure significant environmental gains in the present and the future? Do you enjoy working in a team? Can you see yourself advising communities and customers to maximise gains for the Natural Environment?

If this appeals to you, a career at Natural England offers rewarding opportunities to secure environmental improvements and play your part in creating a better future for people and nature.

The priority work Natural England is delivering includes:

  • Establishing a Nature Recovery Network to help wildlife thrive
  • Monitoring environmental changes to identify and help reduce the effects of climate change
  • Working with farmers and landowners to develop greener food production methods
  • Advising on plans for new developments to maximise gains for nature
  • Providing ways for people to better connect with nature, including green social prescribing

We are the Government’s advisor for the natural environment, playing a vital role in delivering the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, an ambitious vision which brings new opportunities to protect and enhance and to achieve real outcomes for the environment.

Find out more about the work of Natural England at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/natural-england

We are seeking Senior Specialists in social science to sit within Natural England’s Social Science Team, within Specialist Science and Evidence. We have an interdisciplinary team and welcome applications from candidates with different disciplinary backgrounds and specialisms within the social sciences. The team includes a number of social science senior specialists, specialists and a principal specialist.  Our mission, to build partnerships for nature’s recovery, reflects the need for us to work with and through a wide range of people. In order to do this effectively, we need to understand people: to work with diverse ways of knowing, experiencing and thinking about the natural environment; understand behaviour and what drives it; understand how we engage with nature (or why we don’t); as well as how best to work together towards achieving our vision. Understanding people – and the social, political, cultural, institutional, economic and technological contexts in which we live and operate – is therefore critical to delivering thriving nature for people and planet. Natural England’s (NE’s) Action plan for 21/22 can be viewed here: Natural England action plan 2021 to 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).  It contains information about the organisation’s priorities for the year and includes a description of NE’s four strategic programmes and its two supporting programmes.

The Protected Site Strategies development project draws on all four of the strategic programmes to develop the statutory guidance and advisory toolkit for Protected Site Strategies. The focus of the work involves: 1) Supporting the delivery of evidence projects related to Protected Sites Strategies; 2) Building partnerships and work together with external organisations to drive forward our aims and ambition for Protected Sites Strategies; 3) Scoping and developing social science projects addressing key needs for Protected Sites Strategies development. A particular focus will be ensuring the Evaluation and Social Science Insights contract for Protected Site Strategies development is well serviced by the pilots, related initiatives and targeting interventions to develop robust Evaluation Frameworks and deliver a comprehensive Evaluation Plan to inform Protected Site Strategies deployment.

Job description

The post holders will support a social science and evidence commission for the Natural England Protected Site Strategies development project.

Protected Site Strategies are a new set of powers for Natural England in the Environment Act 2021. We are currently gathering evidence and insights to inform the Statutory Guidance and accompanying Advisory Toolkits for Protected Site Strategies. Social Science insights are fundamental to the ensuring Protected Site Strategies become effective and highly valued mechanisms to address negative impacts on the biodiversity and/or geodiversity of Protected Sites

Work areas will include the following:

  • Contributing through Protected Site Strategies development to the delivery of NE’s four programmes: Greener Farming and Fisheries; Sustainable Development; Connecting People to Nature; and, Resilient Landscapes and Seas, including helping to scope opportunities where the social science impacts developed for Protected Site Strategies can support programme delivery.
  • Involvement in external networks to promote the use and impact of social science within the natural environment sector

The exact work areas to be supported by the successful candidates will depend on the successful candidate’s knowledge and expertise.

The role of the Protected Site Strategies Senior Specialist includes:

  • Providing advice and guidance on social science methods and techniques; supporting Protected Site Strategies pilot Senior Advisers to use and understand these to maximise the robustness of research delivered within the pilots; and helping colleagues to apply research recommendations.
  • Development, oversight/project management and quality assurance of research.
  • Evidence syntheses (including rapid evidence reviews) and authoring policy/summary briefings.
  • Delivery of workshops, webinars and presentations to raise awareness of social science research findings, theory and practice within the pilot partnerships.
  • Providing social science insights in relation to Protected Site Strategies development and implementation.
  • Primary research (e.g. quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods) including research design, data collection and analysis (methodological approach dependent on successful candidate’s knowledge and expertise).
  • Provision of analysis and synthesis of critical evidence to support Natural England Protected Site Strategies teams.
  • Maintaining their specialism, including contributing to relevant networks (for example, the cross-government Natural Environment Social Research Network) and building links with social researchers and analysts in the Government Social Research (GSR) community.

We are seeking applicants who are confident and capable of working at a strategic level and with the ability to quickly understand and respond to current needs and challenges.


Natural England is adopting hybrid working – which means that our staff will work from a flexible range of locations, encompassing home, offices (ours and our partners) and relevant sites. All new staff will be formally linked to one of our 25 offices across England and the expectation is that all new staff will be able to access their local office to be part of the community of staff in their geographic area. Staff members are required to carry out all their duties working in this way and cannot do so from an overseas location at any time. Travel expenses will be paid if work related travel is required but does not apply to travel between home and your associated office.

This is a national team role. National roles can be linked with any Natural England office.