Lecturer (higher education): job description

Higher education lecturers are employed by universities and higher education establishments to undertake teaching, research and administrative duties within a specialist subject area.
There is no legal requirement for higher education lecturers to gain formal teaching qualifications.

What does a higher education lecturer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • interviewing course applicants
  • lecture planning, preparation and research
  • contact/teaching time with students
  • checking and assessing students' work
  • encouraging personal development via tutorial/pastoral work
  • invigilating examinations
  • attending staff meetings
  • general administration
  • writing research proposals, papers and other publications
  • reading academic journals
  • supervising PhD students and research staff
  • managing research budgets
  • attending and speaking at conferences and seminars

The requirement to publish research work and general commitment to the job commonly results in higher education (HE) teachers working long hours, including evenings and weekends. An excellent teaching and research record is generally necessary for career progression as there is strong competition for senior positions.

Typical employers of higher education lecturers

  • Universities
  • Higher education establishments

Many people enter the profession via part-time teaching/temporary contracts. Vacancies are advertised via the internet, in local, regional and national newspapers, in the Times Higher Education and in publications relevant to the subject area to be taught. A few specialist recruitment agencies also handle vacancies.

Qualifications and training required

The minimum academic requirements for entry into HE teaching are a good degree (min 2:2) and a postgraduate qualification (often a PhD) that are relevant to the subject to be taught. Many HE teachers are mature candidates who have also gained several years' pertinent professional or industrial work experience.

Key skills for higher education lecturers

  • Highly motivated
  • Excellent presentation skills
  • Excellent research skills
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Expertise in a particular subject area or areas