Case study

BRE lecturer — Angus Law

As a BRE lecturer in fire safety engineering at The University of Edinburgh, Angus's work includes lecturing, tutoring and undertaking industry research. Find out more about what motivates him

How did you get your job as a lecturer?

I studied civil engineering at The University of Edinburgh and stayed on to undertake a PhD in fire safety engineering, graduating in 2010.

At the end of my PhD I was keen to learn more about applied engineering, so I worked for a consulting engineer for four years on all kinds of construction projects. I then worked as a lecturer for two years in Australia. When my current role was advertised, I felt that my academic background and industry skills would fit well within the university.

What's a typical day like?

During semester time, my day revolves around our undergraduate students. I'm lecturing, tutoring and helping on a one-to-one basis.

The rest of the year, my days are filled with research activities and helping practitioners solve problems they've encountered on projects. This could involve anything from conducting experimental work in the lab to presenting our findings at a conference, to visiting sites with industry partners.

What do you most enjoy about being a lecturer?

The variety. During the course of a week, I can lecture undergraduates, deliver a conference presentation, help a practitioner with a technical problem, help students with pastoral matters, run an experiment and mop the lab floor (although my students would likely suggest that I don't do this enough!).

What are the challenges?

One of the most stimulating challenges is to find the best way of explaining an idea to a person. I spend most of my time either trying to understand things or trying to help other people understand things.

Is your degree relevant?

My undergraduate degree was (and remains) useful because it gave me a breadth of understanding. During my PhD I learnt how to focus my natural curiosity on a particular topic, and to keep digging until my curiosity was satisfied.

What are your career ambitions?

My career ambitions are, fundamentally, to understand more about the world and to share this with others. The pleasure of finding things out - whether learnt or discovered - is a big motivator for me.

What advice can you give to other aspiring lecturers?

I'd hesitate to give any advice about how to enter an academic career as the path is unique for each individual. Overall, however, my feeling is that the most important thing for you to have is a curiosity about the world and a willingness to help other people learn.

Find out more