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Head of Evaluation

ESRC’s aim is to support excellent economic and social research, and to ensure that social science makes a full contribution to understanding and addressing societal challenges and opportunities. ESRC's total budget for 2019/20 was over £200million. ESRC is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) which brings all the Research Councils, Research England and Innovate UK under one umbrella, with one mission and overall set of strategic objectives.

The Head of Evaluation post is located within the ESRC’s Strategy and Partnerships group, which leads on developing the overall strategic direction of the Council, working closely with other parts of UKRI and a range of external stakeholders. Evaluation forms an important part of the group’s work, both to measure the success of key activities and to inform future strategic thinking. You will report to the Director of Strategy and Partnerships, Jeremy Neathey. 

You will be one of 16 grade F colleagues who lead teams across the various ESRC functions. This role will involve engaging directly with other team heads to develop and deliver specific evaluations. You will also be expected to contribute more generally to team head discussions through our grade F network. You will work particularly closely with the Head of Insights team, Dr Alex Hulkes. You will also report regularly to the Senior Leadership Team, including agreement of an annual evaluation plan.

You will be expected to represent the ESRC on relevant UKRI wide groups which are working on developing evaluation frameworks and protocols. This may involve leading specific UKRI projects as part of this activity.

The role of Head of Evaluation is a newly created post. At present it will be supported by and line manage one grade E, Senior Evaluation Manager. Our ambition is to expand the team over the coming 12 months, and you will play a key role in recruitment.

The post is based in Swindon but will involve occasional travel.

Job Purpose

You will take lead responsibility for designing, commissioning and delivering the ESRC’s programme of strategic evaluations. The evaluation programme will concentrate on the ESRC’s key largescale investments and selective strategic scheme-level evaluations.  The focus will be on the development of a rigorous and credible evidence base relating to the scale, nature and determinants of the impacts of social science investments. You will also develop new approaches to understanding ‘what works’ in research funding.

Key Responsibilities

The role will involve:

  • Working closely with colleagues across ESRC and UKRI to develop rigorous monitoring and evaluation plans for ESRC business cases funded through the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) and other funding sources
  • Working with the resulting investments to ensure the availability of the evidence needed for their effective evaluation through compliance with agreed monitoring and evaluation plans
  • Leading evaluations of selected activities and investments to determine their effects, strengths and weaknesses, and to identify actionable lessons to feed into the scoping of future activities. Most commonly this will be achieved through oversight of projects delivered by external contractors, and you will have day to day responsibility for associated budget management
  • Building a strong evidence base around current evaluation approaches by identifying, synthesising and assessing existing methods and techniques and exploring how they might be used to drive continuous improvement in the evaluation of ESRC activities.  This may include attendance at external evaluation events and conferences to stay abreast of latest approaches to evaluation
  • Working closely with UKRI evaluation and performance leaders to shape and inform the broader approach to evaluation, including representing the ESRC on UKRI wide evaluation groups
  • Day to day management of an evaluation budget, both for internal resourcing (staff and related costs) and external delivery (external contracting of evaluation specialists) ensuring value for money at all times.

Key Relationships

  • Director of Strategy and Partnerships
  • Director of Research and Director of Strategic Projects
  • Other members of ESRC’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT)
  • ESRC Team Head Network
  • Senior UKRI evaluation colleagues
  • Key external evaluation specialists.

Organization Description

UK Research and Innovation is a new entity that brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, and a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. More information can be found at

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s leading research agency for funding research and training in the social sciences. Investing over £180 million a year every year our mission is to enable government, business and the public to learn about social change and the reasons behind it. Further details can be found here.

More information
United Kingdom
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)