Higher Education Lecturer

Job Description:

Higher education (HE) lecturers teach academic and vocational subjects at universities and further education colleges. They also carry out research.

Job Category:

What you will do:

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • developing teaching materials and preparing for lectures
  • delivering lectures, seminars, practical demonstrations and fieldwork
  • setting and marking assignments and exams
  • uploading materials and supporting student discussions
  • assessing students’ work and progress
  • acting as personal tutor to students
  • supervising student research
  • contributing to conferences and seminars
  • taking part in staff training
  • doing admin

You’ll carry out research and publish your work.

At a university the balance of time spent on teaching and research will vary. At a college the main focus will be on teaching.


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • excellent written communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative (drive)
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • organisational skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Higher Education Lecturer, you will typically need to pursue higher education and earn advanced degrees such as a master’s or a Ph.D. in your chosen field. However, achieving strong results in relevant subjects can help you gain admission to undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Below are some recommended subjects and skills that can prepare you for a career in higher education and academic lecturing:

  1. English Language and Literature: Strong written and verbal communication skills are essential for delivering lectures, publishing research, and interacting with students.
  2. Mathematics: While not directly related to lecturing, math skills can be useful in certain academic disciplines, and some courses may require mathematical proficiency.
  3. Science: Depending on your academic field, a background in science subjects (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics) may be relevant.
  4. Humanities and Social Sciences: If you plan to teach in fields like history, literature, sociology, or psychology, relevant subjects in these areas can be beneficial.
  5. Foreign Languages: Proficiency in foreign languages can be an asset, especially if you plan to teach language courses or conduct research in international contexts.
  6. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Proficiency in using computers and technology is essential for research, teaching, and administrative tasks in academia.

Post School

You’ll need a good degree (in the UK a 1st or 2:1) in the subject you want to teach. You may also need:

  • a Master’s degree
  • a PhD

You’ll need experience of teaching, or you’ll need to show you can teach. For vocational subjects like art or engineering you’ll need several years of relevant experience.

Working Hours and Environment:

Working hours will vary. You’ll often work long hours including evenings.

Part-time, hourly-paid jobs and fixed, short-term contracts are becoming more common.

After 3 years in your job, you could take up to a year out for research.

Career Path & Progression:

You could work for universities and colleges, law and business schools, or private sector universities and schools.

After 5 to 7 years you could become a senior lecturer. You could then become a principal lecturer, reader or professor. Competition is strong and promotion depends on how well you perform.