Lecturer Higher Education

    If you are wondering how to become a lecturer, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of higher education, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Higher education lecturers teach and carry out research in universities and some colleges. They teach academic and vocational subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate level to students over the age of 18.

    Typical responsibilities:

    teaching (lectures, seminars, practical demonstrations and fieldwork)
    preparing for teaching sessions and developing teaching materials
    setting and marking assignments and exams
    assessing students’ work and progress
    acting as personal tutor to a number of students
    conducting research (often on behalf of sponsors) with the aim of publication
    supervising students’ research
    attending, and contributing to, professional conferences and seminars
    making contacts with commercial, industrial and public sector organisations
    carrying out administrative tasks.
    You could be employed in a joint teaching and research position. You would contribute to the research activities of your department and publish your work in journals and books.

    In a college the focus of your work is likely to be on teaching rather than research.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good higher education lecturers include:

    expertise in your subject area
    the ability to motivate and inspire students
    the confidence to lecture to large groups of students
    the ability to express yourself clearly, both in speech and in writing
    organisational skills
    commitment to your own professional development.

    How to become a higher education lecturer
    For most jobs you would need:

    a relevant degree (first class or 2.1)
    a PhD (or be working towards it)
    the ability to carry out original research and have work published.
    You would also need to have experience of teaching, or be able to demonstrate that you have potential to teach. You may be able to gain experience by taking on teaching duties (possibly being paid an hourly rate) whilst you are a research student. Some universities advertise opportunities under job titles such as Graduate Teaching Assistant.

    To teach vocational subjects, you would need a relevant degree or professional qualification and several years’ relevant work experience.

    Training and Development
    As a higher education lecturer you would usually have the opportunity to do a wide range of in-house training, and may also be supported in doing external courses if they are relevant to your work.

    Postgraduate qualifications, with titles such as Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching (Higher Education), are available. These are sometimes compulsory for new staff on permanent contracts and can be done alongside your lecturing work. The courses are accredited by the Higher Education Academy, and lead to Registered Practitioner status on successful completion.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Lecturers on a full-time contract can earn between £25,000 and £38,000 a year
    Senior lecturers can earn around £46,000 or more a year.

    Job Prospects
    You would usually be employed in universities and some colleges, but there are also positions in postgraduate institutions such as law and business schools.

    With experience you could have the opportunity for promotion to senior (or principal) lecturer with academic management responsibilities, and then to reader, with responsibility for high-level independent research. Promotion to these levels is very competitive, so your work would have to be of a very high standard.

    If you have an outstanding research and publishing record, you could be promoted to professor, with responsibility for furthering research, for example by setting up new research teams and bringing in new research funding. At this level you may also be head of a department, or a group of departments and would not do so much teaching.

    Useful education, teaching and training resources:
    University and College Union (UCU)
    A merger of NATFHE and AUT

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