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To go into academia

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    What does it take to do this?

    Coming to the end of my first year and wondering about the future. I have always wanted to do this, but I'm coming to realise it may be more difficult than I first expected.

    Anyone who's gone onto masters or PhD, what do you intend to go into and how?
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    Let's take something like this as an example: http://www.ox.ac.uk/about_the_univer...0612/ac10016j/

    You're going to require a PhD really, or you'll be out-competed instantly by any applicants who have one, which I suppose is an initial vetting procedure. Alongside lecturing, you will be expected to perform your own research, to the standard expected by the University you're applying to.

    "You will have a higher degree in basic science and will be able to demonstrate a research record of international standing witnessed by peer reviewed publications"

    Essentially here you need a PhD and some peer-reviewed papers published.

    "as well as evidence of imaginative research plans and the potential to lead and manage new research initiatives. A record of success in securing research funding is desirable."

    As well as some ideas for future work (to show you aren't burnt out), and that you're able to bring in your own funding.

    You're typically going to need experience, which in turn should bring more papers, so I would expect people would have performed at least one post-doc after their PhD before getting a lecturing post (and if I'm blunt, I doubt anyone's going to achieve their first lecturing post at Oxford, though anything's possible!).

    Personally, I'm in Biology and I don't plan on going into academia, but I'd rather work for a pharmaceutical company or something.
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    Yeah I knew you needed a PhD at least.

    But in my naivety, typical of a first-year I guess, I assumed it was almost a linear path - BA, MA/equivalent, PhD > academia, but apparently it isn't so.

    My biggest fear is with fees; going for the masters (which I am already saving up for, and have a healthy amount) but after being stuck with a masters not applicable to the 'real world' (My interest is in political theory) and a load of debt, unable to get funding.

    I guess only time will tell.
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    (Original post by CUFCDan)
    Yeah I knew you needed a PhD at least.

    But in my naivety, typical of a first-year I guess, I assumed it was almost a linear path - BA, MA/equivalent, PhD > academia, but apparently it isn't so.

    My biggest fear is with fees; going for the masters (which I am already saving up for, and have a healthy amount) but after being stuck with a masters not applicable to the 'real world' (My interest is in political theory) and a load of debt, unable to get funding.

    I guess only time will tell.
    Funding for Political Theory isn't impossible to get (the ESRC is funding my PhD which is broadly a political theory one), so don't get too down about the prospects just yet!

    It does turn out to be a linear progression for many people. And I think that political theory is probably one of the more linear of the IR/Politics career paths into academia. You often find with specialisms like regional studies, security studies, development, etc, that 'field' experience is desirable for many positions, but it isn't a concrete requirement for academics (which is not to say that the experience wouldn't prove valuable for your teaching or research).

    For academic jobs in political theory the things that are most important after the PhD are peer-reviewed journal articles and teaching experience (giving some 'guest lectures' on an honours course can be a good addition to standard first year tutoring). Other things that look good are conference organisation (as well as attendance), having a proposal for a monograph in the works with a publisher (this looks great actually, but many people don't have this when they come to apply for their first position), and the ability to attract funding (funding is scarce in political theory so if you do secure funding then that's fantastic) - but this doesn't have to be only a studentship. Funding for conferences or workshops you organise also looks good.

    The sense I get from speaking with my Head of Department (who is interviewing potential candidates for open faculty positions) is that it is vital to be able to demonstrate not only your ability to teach undergraduates within your specialism, but to be able to contribute to general teaching in the department - for introductory IR or politics courses - to be able to supervise dissertations, and to be able to contribute to graduate level teaching. It is easy to get so caught up in your own specialism that you forget how it fits in with the broader subject area!

    It's great that you are giving so much thought to this already, but my advice would honestly be to enjoy your undergrad as much as possible!!! Work hard to get a First, but don't obsess so much about getting into academia in 8 years time that you forget to enjoy your carefree undergrad years
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    A good resource to check every now and then is

    http://www.jobs.ac.uk/

    You are years away from being able to apply for the faculty jobs listed on the site, but it is a good place to go and read the job adverts so that you can get an idea of the different requirements for different specialisms and departments.
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    Although there are exceptions, generally speaking you need a PhD from a top university (unless youre a superstar, or your advisor is very well known), and even then it isnt easy. The academic job market is extremely competitive in subjects that dont have direct real-world applicability (eg economics or computer science) and trying find a position without a stellar CV is difficult. It certainly isnt enough to just have a PhD.

    If youre serious then you need to get a 1st in your undergrad (unless youre at Oxbridge or equivalent in which case a 2:1 might be enough), have good letters of recommendation from faculty, and then apply for the best places you can get into.
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    (Original post by gumball)
    L
    You're typically going to need experience, which in turn should bring more papers, so I would expect people would have performed at least one post-doc after their PhD before getting a lecturing post (and if I'm blunt, I doubt anyone's going to achieve their first lecturing post at Oxford, though anything's possible!).
    Lecturers are usually appointed straight after postdoc (or from PhD depending on their subject); most lecturers at Oxford will not have had previous lecturing experience. Aside from personal issues (such as location changes), people typically only move universities to take more advanced positions, like senior lectureships or readerships.
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    (Original post by poohat)
    Although there are exceptions, generally speaking you need a PhD from a top university
    Why?

    Unfortuately due to family issues I have ended up at an average Uni for my undergrad, though this isn't a reflection of myself!

    Whilst most of the top lecturers went to the top Universities I'm not convinced having a PhD from them is necessary

    And as always, thanks to Tasha.
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    (Original post by gumball)
    Let's take something like this as an example: http://www.ox.ac.uk/about_the_univer...0612/ac10016j/
    Let's not. Oxford appointments are rather different from others and a University Lectureship, as opposed to a position offered through a college, is definitely not a first-jobber position. Quite apart from anything else you should be able to discern this much from the salary scale, which runs up to nearly 60 grand a year.

    That's a really bad example of what's required for getting into academia then. It's a mid-career position at what's one of the best universities in the world.
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    (Original post by CUFCDan)
    Why?
    .
    Trickle-down effect. There are far more PhD students produced than there are lectureships available. If Oxbridge produce (say) 10-15 PhDs a year and there are only 3-4 lecturer posts a year avialable at the top 10 universities, then the ones who want to stay in academia will have to find jobs lower down the ranking. This means even at low tier universities you get people with PhDs from top places applying. Its an incredibly competitive job market.

    A PhD from a top university isnt strictly necessary, but its harder if you dont have one. Generally speaking being at a good university makes it easier to build a contacts network and work with famous people, which in turn makes it easier to get papers published in good journals. Having a famous advisor makes it easier to get onto a good postdoc acter because they will have connections, etc. Finally having a brand name university on your CV makes it a lot easier to get a good private sector job if you end up having to leave academia. Again if youre a superstar then you'll be fine wherever you end up, but most people arent.

    It doesnt matter where you did your undergrad, just get a first and try to get into the best place you can for a PhD. It doesnt need to be Oxbridge but you ideally want to be somewhere top 5-10 in your subject area, unless you can work with someone very well known at a lower tier place.
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    (Original post by cambio wechsel)
    Let's not. Oxford appointments are rather different from others and a University Lectureship, as opposed to a position offered through a college, is definitely not a first-jobber position. Quite apart from anything else you should be able to discern this much from the salary scale, which runs up to nearly 60 grand a year.

    That's a really bad example of what's required for getting into academia then. It's a mid-career position at what's one of the best universities in the world.
    No, they arent. The difference between getting a lectureship at oxford and getting one at (say) Bristol or UCL is marginal - see above post. There are something like 3-4 lectureships a year available at 'good' places and there are many more more talented PhD students than that.

    A "university lecturer" at Oxford is the same as a "lecturer" anywhere else; Oxford just uses that title to distinguish between permanent staff and temporary staff; its nothing to do with college association, all permanent lecturers are appointed by the department rather than individual colleges. Also £50-60k is fairly standard for a lecturer in medical science. No other subjects will pay that high, except law and possibly economics.

    Finally its not a midcareer positoin. A lectureship is an entry level position no matter what university youre at, and academics rarely change universities for a lecturer position unless they have personal reasons to want to move cities, or were drastically underplaced. Most lecturers even at Oxbridge will be appointed straight from PhD/postdoc. WHen people move, its usually to take on a higher position like a senior lectureship/readership/chair.
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    (Original post by poohat)
    No, they arent. The difference between getting a lectureship at oxford and getting one at (say) Bristol or UCL is marginal
    that wasn't my point. I was talking specifically about naming conventions. A 'University Lectureship' at Oxford is not the first rung on the Oxford career ladder, was the point I was making. 'Stipendiary Lectureship' would perhaps be that. Those distinctions don't exist at Bristol or UCL, to use your examples. The CV of someone at Oxford will take in a 'junior research fellowship' or 'early career research fellowhip'.

    The job being suggested as representative of 'what you need to get in' asks for "...a research record of international standing witnessed by peer reviewed publications" and suggests that "[a] record of success in securing research funding is desirable". This isn't a first post for a 25 year old.
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    [QUOTE=poohat;37420890]

    Finally its not a midcareer positoin. A lectureship is an entry level position no matter what university youre at

    Most teaching posts in Oxford comprise a fellowship funded by the college and a lectureship paid by the university.

    I explained the reason why here

    However Oxford also has college lectureships which are entry level positions.



    St Catz is currently advertising the other half of the job you linked to:-

    http://www.stcatz.ox.ac.uk/vacancies/job-vacancies

    but is also advertising a college lectureship in philosophy.

    The tutorial loads for both posts are the same, six hours per week but one pays up to £57,581 whilst the other pays up to £17,307 if the candidate can both teach and lecture a new subject.
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    (Original post by poohat)
    Lecturers are usually appointed straight after postdoc (or from PhD depending on their subject); most lecturers at Oxford will not have had previous lecturing experience. Aside from personal issues (such as location changes), people typically only move universities to take more advanced positions, like senior lectureships or readerships.
    This is not my experience at all. Most contracts at the lower end seem to be very temporary at the moment (8, 12 or 24 month contracts) and so most of my peers are taking temporary lectureships for the first few years of their careers. A friend moved 5 times in 6 years before finally getting a permanent job. They're not selectively moving around for advancement; they're moving because that's the only way to keep a roof over their heads.
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    In my area; one can really only start a career* in academia four or five years after their PhD. Before that time - there are numerous opportunties at which one can be 'forced out of the market' so to speak. Halfway through my PhD, I still find it barely worth thinking about because it is so fraught with uncertainty. If you do two or three postdocs but then can't find a permanent job or temporary lectureship by the time your contract runs out; you might as well say goodbye to an academic career and start planning to do something else.

    For a first year undergrad, you are talking about twelve years into the future - it is barely worth thinking about at this stage - just find out what you enjoy and work hard at it and then you are bound to get something out of whatever you do.

    * - i.e. a permanent job.
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    No-one should decide to go into academia. Ever.

    At the end of your BA, you may or may not decide to do an MA.

    At the end of your MA, you may or may not decide to do a PhD.

    At the end of your PhD, you may or may not decide to get a postdoctoral job.

    Your postdoctoral job may or may not lead to a lectureship.

    And so on. Academia is a continuum and, indeed, you are already 'in academia' as a first year student. But you are are way to far removed from what you see as academia (eg 'being a lecturer') to have a firm idea of whether or not that should be your career.

    So - keep thinking about going on to postgraduate study, but make lots of other plans and see where life takes you.

    It may take you (further) into academia. In which case, great.
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    The careers service at the University of Manchester has won awards; here's a link to its guide to becoming an academic, applicable to any institution and subject area:
    http://www.academiccareer.manchester.ac.uk/
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    (Original post by poohat)

    A PhD from a top university isnt strictly necessary, but its harder if you dont have one. Generally speaking being at a good university makes it easier to build a contacts network and work with famous people, which in turn makes it easier to get papers published in good journals. Having a famous advisor makes it easier to get onto a good postdoc acter because they will have connections, etc. Finally having a brand name university on your CV makes it a lot easier to get a good private sector job if you end up having to leave academia. Again if youre a superstar then you'll be fine wherever you end up, but most people arent.
    I would be inclined to agree with you. I currently have two offers for MRes' from Birkbeck College and Imperial College. I want to do a PhD afterwards and go into academia. I've also got applications in at UCL and King's. Bearing that in mind, in your opinion, which institution would give me the best opportunities going forward? I have applied for funded PhD's but have been unsuccessful thus far, so I'm looking at research Masters courses first.

    (Original post by poohat)

    It doesnt matter where you did your undergrad, just get a first and try to get into the best place you can for a PhD. It doesnt need to be Oxbridge but you ideally want to be somewhere top 5-10 in your subject area, unless you can work with someone very well known at a lower tier place.
    Agree. I did my undergraduate degree at a low tier uni (Anglia Ruskin) and got a first and am trying to get into a top 10 uni to improve my chances of success in the future.
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    (Original post by VENIVIDIVICI)
    I would be inclined to agree with you. I currently have two offers for MRes' from Birkbeck College and Imperial College. I want to do a PhD afterwards and go into academia. I've also got applications in at UCL and King's. Bearing that in mind, in your opinion, which institution would give me the best opportunities going forward?
    Depends on your subject and the structure of the MSc, but most likely Imperial or UCL.
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    (Original post by poohat)
    Depends on your subject and the structure of the MSc, but most likely Imperial or UCL.
    Thanks for the reply and input.

    The MRes at Imperial is in Biomedical Research (Personalised Healthcare) and UCL is in Bioscience.

    Imperial's course is 2 x 5.5 month lab-based projects in basic and clinical science at either Imperial South Kensington's site or one of their Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust hospitals sites (http://www.imperial.nhs.uk/) with graduate development skills training in grant writing, research methods and skills, presentation skills, technical workshops, journal clubs, seminars, etc. throughout the year.

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