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This is probably a question quite opposite to the general vibe of people in academia, but oh well.

I am a UK-based PhD student and as I progress through my programme I notice more and more that my tutoring duties bring me a lot more enjoyment and fulfilment than research. Thus I started to wonder if there are ways of becoming a university lecturer without actually pursuing research.

I am observing many researchers who are, honestly, quite appalling lecturers and are quite vocal about not enjoying working with students anyway. At the same time, however, it seems that UK universities don't hire people who don't do research - at least I was unable to find any.

Most jobs I looked at involved research and, obviously, usually PhD-level jobs assume at least some level of research duties in them. At the same time I wouldn't want to be a teacher at a level lower than university, since I enjoy talking to students who chose the course more than to people who were forced to take it by the general curriculum. I was also a little bit afraid that in the academic world the job of a full-time tutor may be in the long run frowned upon, as "They is doing everything you are and ALSO doing research!"

So I guess the tl;dr version of my question would be: Is it possible to have a career as a full-time university lecturer in the UK without research activities?

  • Strongly related: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/40119/… – xLeitix Feb 24 '15 at 15:38
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    a side comment: when you are teaching somewhat advanced subjects, i think being an active researcher makes a huge difference, for the best, in the quality of the course (generally speaking, of course). – essay Feb 24 '15 at 16:00
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    @GuestLecturer so I am, and even though what you said is true, as a student I do feel like it is an important point. research gives you a sort of insight that you will hardly get otherwise. anyway, don't get me wrong: i am actually in a position pretty similar to yours (so I kind of have to play the devil's advocate ;) – essay Feb 24 '15 at 16:13
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    The relevance of even very basic "pure" mathematical things (to mathematics itself...) changes considerably, if not enormously, with time. Priorities, significance change. Being disconnected from good (as opposed to random) research sheds light on this. Probably bad/random research sheds darkness. And, of course, bad communicators will find many dubious rationalizations to make a virtue of their failing, etc. But, altogether, it's better to think actively about mathematics than treat it as a fixed canon. The specific details of job negotiations in the UK are not terribly familiar to me... – paul garrett Feb 24 '15 at 23:56
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    @Kimball, :) no, not consciously intended to be (completely) ambiguous, but merely opposite to "sheds light on". Meant to be in contrast to "illuminate"... "de-luminate"? – paul garrett Feb 25 '15 at 13:45
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My institution has policies that talk about 'teaching and scholarship' positions. These presumably require more teaching than the 'teaching and research' positions. So I believe the answer is yes. I don't know what the availability of such positions is though. It is conceivable that nowhere actually hires on that basis now.

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To add some more detail to @sevensevens answer, here is some detail from my UK institution (hidden inside our intranet, so I can't link):

The academic jobs have four areas where staff "contribute", one of which is education (the others are research, enterprise [consultancy or bringing in cash], and leadership and management [admin++]). All staff are expected to contribute to at least two at some level; an example they give for "education led" staff would be 70% education and 30% leadership.

As an example, to get to level 6 (senior lecturer / associate prof equivalent) on the education led path, the member of staff may (in addition to their standard teaching duties)

  • Develop and sustain major pedagogical and practitioner activity of high reputation in the UK and internationally, including through original research work.
  • Play a leading role in the debate nationally about teaching and learning policy, methods and practices through publications, conference activity and other appropriate media.
  • Act as coach and role model for teaching excellence locally through excellent practice and mentoring other less experienced teachers.
  • May disseminate and explain pedagogic research findings through leading peer reviewed national and international publications, conferences and exhibitions.
  • Develop links with external contacts such as other educational bodies, employers and professional bodies to foster collaboration.

and are

  • Able to develop and lead key communications strategies,
  • Able to represent the unit/faculty/university at national/international conference sessions or senior management meetings as a lead expert.
  • Able to develop significant new concepts and original ideas within their field in response to intractable issues of importance to the research or teaching area.

Those are a small selection of direct quotes (it's less than 20% of the set of points listed), which highlight the key point: if you want a career, with progression up the ladder and continued responsibility, then it is possible, but will require more than just being a good teacher/tutor to the students.

I would finally note: there is a strong belief (backed up with significant evidence) that the teaching led route is not valued at anything like the same level as research led or balanced routes: promotion is slower, and teaching led staff are more likely to get the tedious admin jobs. There's been a push from the top to address this, but as yet it's not clear if that's (a) been successful, or (b) much more than PR.

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Yes, it is possible to find universities in the UK that hire professor/lecturers who are only doing teaching. This is not very common, but do exist. These professors have no research responsibility, and so they usually teach twice than their research peers.


Example of such permanent teaching lectureship positions from the University of Manchester:

http://www.academiccareer.manchester.ac.uk/about/do/jobsandroles/

Could I focus on teaching-only posts?

Although teaching is part of the role of most academics, there are a number of teaching-only roles. The majority of these are associated with fixed-term positions, often part-time. However, some institutions have developed parallel career routes, allowing academics (in permanent roles) to remain focused on teaching and still progress through grades similar to the conventional 'Lecturer to Professor' route. This has traditionally been the case in the post-92 universities, but more recently has also been recognised within some Russell Group universities.

Job titles may differ to reflect the teaching focus of the job, with the term Teaching Fellow sometimes used to reflect a permanent teaching-focused academic role (as opposed to those Teaching Fellow posts which are fixed-term, teaching posts aimed at those aspiring to an academic career - check the job descriptions carefully).

As a teaching-focused academic, in addition to your discipline knowledge, you may be expected to conduct research and publish, but in the fields of teaching and education, either generally or specifically within your discipline. At senior levels, you would generally also be expected to take a lead in the development of educational methods and/or technologies based on relevant educational research.

  • Probably much more than twice, from what I gather from my friends in the UK... and maybe don't have job security... maybe no office space... In other words, not "yes", but "no". – paul garrett Aug 13 '16 at 23:34
  • Sorry Paul, but you are wrong on this. I have a first hand knowledge of these kinds of jobs in the UK. They exist, they have twice the teaching, and not much more, and they have permanent positions. (By the way, I like your lecture notes!) – Dilworth Aug 14 '16 at 12:12
  • well, in many regards I hope you're right. I admit that I've not made a careful quantitative study of the situation, but the occasional anecdotal stuff I've heard since 2008 has been awful... Maybe it was dramatized for entertainment value... (Thx! I do hope my notes are useful to people...) – paul garrett Aug 14 '16 at 12:41
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It is completely possible to be hired as a full-time lecturer without a Ph.D. You can also become a prof at a teaching university, which may be more what you want.

If you go the full-time lecturer route, most universities hire lectures on a contract bases, but a few will be promoted to full-time lecturing positions. You will likely not have as much choice in the classes you teach as profs in your department.

Your other option is to do research in teaching your subject. You get your Ph.D. by researching how best to teach the subject you are interested in, and once you've received it, you can apply to teaching universities that will pay you to teach without doing research. Teaching universities award tenure based on excellence in teaching, which encourages all faculty to have good lectures.

NOTE: I believe the UK does NOT have tenure, but its still worth thinking about as both America and several other european countries have some form of it.

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    You are conflating UK and US, and thus use the term "lecturer" to mean something else than it is in the UK (i.e., a research-assistant professor). Also, it is impossible in the UK to be hired as a full time lecturer without a PhD, except rare occasions. – Dilworth Aug 13 '16 at 21:25
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Absolutely. Such positions are called teaching fellowships. I don't know how common such positions are in general but we had two in the department where I did my PhD. There are certainly quite a number on jobs.ac.uk.

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    None of those jobs are in mathematics. UK teaching fellowships in (pure) math do exist but are rare and usually temporary positions. (also, despite the name, they sometimes have a research requirement) – Matthew Towers Feb 25 '15 at 11:40

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