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Higher education lecturer: Entry requirements

To become a higher education (HE) lecturer you need to have a good degree (a first or 2:1) that is relevant to the subject you want to lecture in. You usually also need 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. Teaching and administrative responsibilities may also be given to research students as a condition of their 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 their area of specialist research 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 their own subject area;
  • the potential to expand their knowledge in order to teach a broad curriculum;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • confidence in dealing with a wide range of people;
  • the ability to organise their own workload within competing demands;
  • the ability to work both independently and as part of a team;
  • excellent analytical skills;
  • commitment to the profession and to their own 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 2013

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