Further particulars 

Future of Humanity Institute

James Martin 21st Century School

Faculty of Philosophy 

Position:   Senior Research Fellow (Assistant Director): Ethics

Ref:   YD/JM/003

Discipline and AOS: Moral philosophy or applied ethics

Salary:   Research Staff Grade II (£27,929 – £36,959)


The Future of Humanity Institute is a new interdisciplinary research institute in the James Martin 21st Century School at the University of Oxford ( The Institute is part of the Faculty of Philosophy, which is recognized as one of the top philosophy departments in the world. In the latest edition of the independent “Philosophical Gourmet” report, it was ranked among the top 3 philosophy departments in the world. 

The Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford has more than 100 members, most of whom teach philosophy in the Faculty and colleges.  About 50 hold permanent posts within the Faculty.  Oxford thus contains the largest group of philosophers in the UK, and one of the largest in the world.  It has a vigorous research culture, and was given the top rating of 5* in the most recent research assessment exercise.  Each year, many distinguished philosophers from around the world visit Oxford for longer or shorter periods, to give lectures and seminars. Permanent members of the in the Faculty with research interests in moral philosophy include John Broome, Krister Bykvist, Roger Crisp, Alison Denham, Edward Harcourt, Kinch Hoekstra, Sabina Lovibond, Adrian Moore, Derek Parfit, Julian Savulescu, John Tasioulas and Ralph Wedgwood. The FHI Director, Nick Bostrom, also does work in moral philosophy and applied ethics. More information is available on the Faculty’s website at  

The mission of the Future of Humanity Institute is to understand and evaluate long-term prospects for humanity. The Institute will assess technologies that have the potential to radically transform the human condition, such as technologies flowing from the “NBIC convergence”: nanotechnology, biotechnology and biomedicine, information technology (including computing, communications, and artificial intelligence), and cognitive neuroscience. Particular attention will be given to human enhancement technology. FHI will also study threats to human survival and global catastrophic risk. The Institute will pay close attention to ethical as well as analytical and methodological issues that arise in these areas. 

The Institute will take a multi-disciplinary approach, using scientific research methods, philosophical techniques, and ethical analysis. It will focus on big picture issues for humanity, put them in perspective, and identify potential policy implications. FHI will pursue work of the highest scholarly excellence and academic rigour and will also work to facilitate public engagement and informed discussion among stakeholders in industry, academia, and the non-profit sector. The Institute will seek to create a dynamic and creative research team that will collaborate both internally and externally to advance the state-of-the-art in the focus areas. More information is available on the Institute’s website at

The Post

This post is a Senior Research Fellowship. The postholder will participate in work in all areas of the Institute, providing expertise, analytical skills and independent research. The postholder’s primary responsibility will be to conduct research on ethical issues related to the Institute’s research programs on human enhancement and human potential, and s/he will assume overall responsibility for these programs. These will include, for example, normative issues related to life-extension, enhancement of cognition or mood, genetic engineering, as well as more general philosophical and methodological problems arising in this area. The postholder will be expected to engage with scientific findings and public policy issues in relation to human enhancement and human potential, and to publish the results of his/her findings in academic journals and books. It is envisaged that further funding will be sought to enable the programs on human enhancement and human potential to be expanded and additional research personnel recruited. The postholder will be responsible for seeking funding to enable this expansion and to oversee the development of the programs. 

The postholder will also engage other aspects of the Institute’s research agenda, with a particular but not necessarily exclusive focus on normative issues. 

The postholder will be assisted by the Institute’s administrative personnel and might be able to utilize part of the time of a post-doctoral research assistant. 

Depending on the person appointed, the post could either be for a period of up to three years (or until 31 March 2009, whichever is the sooner), OR for one year renewable for a total of three years (or until 31 March 2009, whichever is the sooner). The post-holder will be based in the offices of the Future of Humanity Institute, currently located in central Oxford, in Littlegate House, St Ebbes Street, Oxford. Applicants will have the opportunity to take part in the activities of the Faculty of Philosophy, and may be asked to undertake some duties for the Faculty of Philosophy.


The duties of the post-holder will include the following: 

Selection Criteria


General Conditions

Depending on the person appointed, the post could either be for a period of up to three years (or until 31 March 2009, whichever is the sooner), OR for one year renewable for a total of three years (or until 31 March 2009, whichever is the sooner). 

The starting salary of the postholder will be decided according to experience, and progression is via yearly increments until the top of the scale is reached.  The appointment is subject to an initial probationary period of nine months, during which the appointment may be terminated by one month's notice on either side.  The normal notice period required once the probationary period has expired is three months.  

The appointee will be entitled to 38 days of annual leave (including 8 public holidays) to be taken by arrangement with the Director of the Institute. 

The post is pensionable and the postholder will be eligible for membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), a contributory scheme to which members pay 6.35 per cent of annual salary.  Subject to the Statement of Pensions Policy, which will be issued to the successful candidate, the appointee will be deemed to be in membership of the above pension scheme until such time he/she gives notice in writing to exercise the right not to be a member of the scheme. 

The University has a generous maternity leave scheme and operates three childcare nurseries.  The nurseries operate waiting lists for certain age groups but the University's Equal Opportunities Assistant is able to provide information about other childcare facilities in the local area. 

The policy and practice of the University of Oxford require that all staff are afforded equal opportunities within employment and that entry into employment with the University and progression within employment will be determined only by personal merit and the application of criteria which are related to the duties of each particular post and the relevant salary structure.  In all cases, ability to perform the job will be the primary consideration.  Subject to statutory provisions, no applicant or member of staff will be treated less favourably than another because of his or her sex, marital status, sexual orientation, racial group, or disability.  

All data supplied by applicants will be used only for the purposes of determining their suitability for the post, and will be held in accordance with the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the University's Data Protections Policy. 

Any offer of employment is subject to the satisfactory completion of a medical questionnaire.  All appointments are subject to the relevant provisions of the Statutes and Regulations of the University, as amended from time to time. 

Under the Immigration Act, 1971, overseas nationals coming to work in Great Britain who are subject to immigration control require work permits and these are applied for by the University.1  The University endeavours to complete the necessary procedures in advance of the date on which employment is to start, but the necessary consents must be obtained before paid employment can begin. 

Application Procedure

Applications, including a CV, a cover letter explaining how the candidate could contribute to the Program’s research, and the names and addresses of two referees, should be sent to: 

Ms Jo Armitage, James Martin Projects Co-ordinator, Faculty of Philosophy, 10 Merton Street, Oxford, OX1 4JJ. 


T: 01865 276934

Fax: 01865 276932

Web Sites: or  

There is no application form. Please do not send samples of written work or transcripts at this stage. Applications may be sent via e-mail. Please quote the reference number of the post on your cover letter. 

The closing date for applications is 12 noon Friday 17 March 2006.  Applicants should ask their referees to write directly to Ms Jo Armitage for receipt not later than 12 noon Friday 17 March 2006, and should supply each referee with a copy of these Further Particulars.  The Faculty of Philosophy and the Future of Humanity Institute wish to take this opportunity of thanking those referees who write on behalf of applicants.  Candidates who wish a referee or referees to be approached only with their specific permission and/or if they are being called for interview on the final shortlist or are in receipt of a conditional offer are asked to state such requirements explicitly alongside the details of the relevant referee(s). 

Interviews will be held between 27-29 March 2006. Please note that where possible, candidates from overseas will be interviewed by telephone or video link. 

If no suitable applicant is forthcoming, an appointment on the scale Grade D31 Research Staff 1(A) (£ 20,044- £30,002), with an appropriate adjustment of duties, may be considered.