The first destination employment rates for LSE PhD graduates are consistently high at over 90% and about 60% of LSE PhD graduates tell us that they have jobs in teaching and or research in higher education six months after graduating. The majority of jobs in academia are advertised on the easily searchable Jobs.ac.uk.

What type of roles are available?

Alison C of Jobs.ac.uk recently presented on the academic labour market in the UK. 65,143 job vacancies were posted on the website last year; about 10,000 were in social science subjects and 49% of the total were in academic research and teaching roles. Others were in professional services, managerial, clerical and technical positions. Of the academic jobs nearly half were general academic (a mix of teaching and research), 46% were for teaching only, and 7% were for research positions. Job titles do not represent the role very clearly and contacting the named person in the job ad helps to determine the balance of the responsibilities. Always make that contact.

There are 150 universities in the UK and almost all will have departments where you could work. Getting to know the people you’d like to work with in your field and the institutions where they are employed will help narrow the field from 150 to a manageable number. Reading the work of others, checking their blogs, and attending conferences will help you get to know departments in your bit of academia better. Academic associations and learned societies will provide contacts and information to get you started.

Gaining experience/applying

Job descriptions in academia usually look for a mixture of research, teaching, public engagement and service. Research and teaching are the two main areas of focus and your experience and potential to grow in these will determine whether your job application makes the short list. Discussion at a recent LSE Careers seminar covered ways to gain these types of experiences and raised questions about the quality and/or quantity of experience required. Questions like: is a paper published in a ‘good’ journal likely to increase your chances of reaching the short list more than teaching a course? These are almost impossible to answer until you have a specific job description to refer to as each department will be looking for a different mix for a particular vacancy. Having some evidence of both teaching and publication means you are well prepared for the job market. Selection panels for academic jobs report that they are looking for potential for candidates to grow in both these areas.

In terms of timing, Alison reported peaks of job adverts appearing from December through the spring; and in terms of location, London is a ‘hot spot’ of vacancies. Jobs.ac.uk provides some useful material to help manage an academic career such as career planning for PhDs and salary checker.

Looking for inspiration?

Take a look at our relevant blogs: