Academia

Jobs in academia usually consist of a combination of teaching and research; the proportion, and the relative importance placed on these depends both on the post you take, and on the university where you work. The twenty most prominent universities in the UK – The Russell Group| – derive much of their prestige from the quality of research, so to secure an academic post at one of these you must be able to demonstrate a strong research pedigree. UK universities that are less "prestigious" do not necessarily reflect the quality of taught courses, and if you are primarily interested in teaching at university level this could be a good option to consider. 

 Academic positions that are primarily centred around teaching are:

  • Lectureships – permanent, or sometimes fixed term.
  • Post-doctoral teaching fellowships – typically last one or two years and are often part-time and /or temporary positions, covering maternity leave or sabbaticals.

 University salaries are verging towards a nationally agreed pay spine|. From the linked table you'll be able to see the range of salaries available for full-time lecturers to professors. However, be aware that part-time lectureships may, in practice, involve more input in terms of preparation and marking than the hours upon which the pro-rata salary is calculated.

In order to get a teaching position, you would ordinarily need a Doctorate and to have had some of your work published, or articles currently under peer review for publication. You would also need some teaching experience and a teaching qualification; you can acquire these while studying for your PhD.

Teaching experience

The best way to gain teaching experience in Higher Education whilst at LSE is by becoming a Graduate Teaching Assistant. This normally involves teaching a module under the guidance of a course convenor: delivering lessons, marking work and holding regular office hours where you can help undergraduate students individually. There will be payment for these positions, although there is no direct payment for the mandatory lesson preparation, weekly marking or the office hours.

The school employs approximately 500 GTAs every year. Technically you have to be a PhD student; MSc students are only employed in exceptional circumstances. A short initial training period is organised at the start of Michaelmas term. Hiring GTAs is organised through departments, which have varying conditions of employment, and as such you should contact your department directly if interested in finding out more. Further information is also available in the Teaching and Learning Centre|.

Teaching qualifications

Any new member of teaching staff hired by a university is now required to have a teaching qualification accredited by the external Higher Education Authority – or to study towards one during their probationary period. As such, LSE offers the Post-Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCertHE) – this is recognised throughout UK universities - to any Graduate Teaching Assistant or member of research staff.

There are two levels of the PGCertHE – "Associate" and "Full": "Associate" status can be gained after one year of study towards the qualification; the "Full" level typically requires two, though there is some flexibility. Both levels require teachers to collect a portfolio that evidences their teaching; to have attended forty hours of training; and also to have had a number of their lessons observed by an assessor.

Enrolment begins in October for the academic year. For more information see the Teaching and Learning Centre|.

Finding a position after LSE

It is unlikely that you will find an advertised lectureship that directly correlates to your PhD thesis. So, when looking through adverts, think laterally about what areas of your subject you could teach, including areas you covered in your Master's degree. Departments are likely to be interested in expanding the courses they offer, so any application should reflect both existing and new courses or themes you could teach. Research a department's existing courses carefully and consider how you would fit within that.

If you are interested in teaching in the USA, you should be aware that although the LSE is a strong international brand, your visibility in the research field is the factor which will weigh most favourably in your application. It is also helpful to have good contacts in the US university world, who can vouch informally for you. The US educational system has two tiers: larger state and private universities, and liberal arts colleges. To get a sense of how any institution is ranked, use the annual volumes published by US News and World Report or the Carnegie Foundation Classifications.

Job search websites

Jobs.ac.uk| is the main academic job site for the UK, and you should also regularly read the weekly Times Higher Education magazine to keep up to date with developments in the sector.

Job searching in other countries is not as unified, due to greater geographical spread, and varying recruitment systems. For example, in some Latin American countries, you are required to take an examination after which you will be ranked and then allocated a job as one becomes available.  Here is a selection of job search and research opportunities websites:

The LSE Careers PhD careers consultant offers careers advice to anybody looking to find a job in academia, and also practice academic interviews. To book an appointment log into LSE CareerHub| and for more information look at the PhD students and research staff| section of the LSE Careers website.

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