Applying for teaching only academic positions

Increasingly UK universities are advertising teaching only positions. What do you need to know? Where do you start?

Today’s blog is a topic that I know is top of mind when people are looking at those next career steps. So, we’re going to be looking at what a teaching only lectureship is from a UK point of view. 

All university systems have their own nuances so I would refer to resources in your own country, or the country that you’re looking to apply to. The resource I’m going to be referring to today is an academic job site, this is where you will find academic jobs at UK universities advertised. It’s a tried and tested job site that most universities use, you will also find academic related jobs and sometimes project work on the site.

Searching for positions

For the process of this blog, I’m going to use the search term ‘lecturer teaching’ and I’m going to choose UCL (University College London). This brings up a variety of things and including the institutions page. Head to the universities page for more details such as the job description and a person specification for the lecturer teaching role that you’re looking for. 

UCL always make their job descriptions attractive! When approaching job description for most British universities, you get a lot of context that tells you all about the university and various other things. By all means read this and familiarise yourself with the information. It will help you get a flavour for the university (good for tailoring your application). 

We are looking at teaching only lectureships. A standard lecturer post in the UK will consist of a third teaching, a third research and a third administration. Occasionally, you do get research only but you never get rid of the administration part! It’s important to double check all the job descriptions and really think about what the purpose of the job is telling you. 

The aim of the post is to ‘initiate, develop, design and be responsible for the delivery of program in accordance to the agreed curriculum.’ There is no mention of research there. You will be delivering a program of teaching and you will also have managerial responsibilities for example recruiting lead demonstrators who work in the labs, teaching and support staff. 

If you are sat there thinking, I could potentially apply for this job as a way into UCL and I could pick up my teaching role and then my research afterwards – don’t apply!  This role is a great role, if you love teaching and you want to go down that route. They are going to spot someone who wants a bridging post between research contracts a mile away. 

You therefore need to be very careful when you’re reading duties and responsibilities, make sure that it contains the elements that you want in a job, not that you hope would be in a job. This particular position is very teaching focused, UCL are looking for someone who wants a career in university teaching. They are not looking for someone who is interested in a quick stopgap. Why would they? They want the best teachers and I think this is partly why universities are going down this teaching only track. It’s a relatively recent development, certainly for our big research-intensive universities but it is a now a distinct career track.

Could I take a teaching job and then go back into research?

Like anything in life, never say never, nothing is impossible. However, if you took this job and you did it to the full breadth and length of the job description, there would be very little time for you to do anything else. 

There would be very little time to do research in your free time, we all know how long it takes to prepare, a presentation or to prepare new lecture courses. 

If teaching isn’t your bag, then don’t go for these posts, find something that is research and teaching or even research only depending on your particular desires. 

Use the job descriptions as a shopping list.  Ideally you want to be able to demonstrate or have knowledge of around 60-70% of it.  If you wait until you have 100% of the job description before you apply, you’re never going to apply for anything. 

That is a quick whistle stop tour of applying for different positions.  For more in-depth information or to see if I can help in any way through my career coaching online courses or if you just want to chat, then my websites will let you do that. So do get in contact.

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