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Higher education lecturer: Entry requirements

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To become a higher education (HE) lecturer you need to have a first or 2:1 degree in a subject that is relevant to what you want to lecture in. You also need to have, or be working towards, a relevant PhD along with:

  • demonstrable experience of, (or clear potential for), teaching;
  • the ability to produce original research for peers;
  • early publication of academic work.

If you do not have a PhD and want to teach an academic subject, you are likely to find it difficult to get work as a lecturer.

If you are still completing a PhD, you may be able to take on teaching duties in the role of a graduate teaching assistant, which will provide good experience.

In some research student positions, teaching and administrative responsibilities are given as a condition of receiving a bursary.

For more vocational courses it is often necessary to have several years' experience of working in the relevant field, as well as a degree or professional qualification. In these instances, expertise in the profession may be just as valuable as a PhD.

Candidates need to show evidence of the following:

  • the ability to sustain an interest in, and enthusiasm for, the specialist research area and to impart this to students and peers;
  • published research and willingness to participate at professional conferences and seminars;
  • a capacity for original thought;
  • expertise in the particular subject area;
  • the potential to expand knowledge in order to teach a broad curriculum;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • confidence in dealing with a range of people;
  • the ability to organise workload within competing demands;
  • the capability to work both independently and as part of a team;
  • excellent analytical skills;
  • commitment to the profession and continuing professional development (CPD);
  • a flexible approach to work;
  • good IT skills.

A formal teaching qualification is not essential for entry into the career but you may need to be able to demonstrate your capability for teaching. Any work experience that reflects this will be useful.

It is possible to study for a teaching qualification once in post, such as the Postgraduate Diploma in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education.

In the early stages of your career, it may be very difficult to gain a permanent contract as an HE lecturer and you may have to accept posts on a fixed-term contract.

For more information, see work experience and internships and search postgraduate courses.

Written by AGCAS editors
July 2015

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