In England, in principle, there are three pathways to professorship, or in general to teaching permanent positions at universities. The third one is for academic staff whose responsibilities are primarily to cover essential teaching, educational needs and, for more senior grades, pedagogic research.

But, in practice, scientific faculties do not allow almost anyone to get a professorship that way. In Bristol, in particular, I only know of people in the Graduate School of Education having become professors through pathway 3.

Is there in Europe a real possibility, in disciplines like physics, mathematics, engineering, to work in academia as a university lecturer primarily?

One way of rephrasing this would be:

Are there in any European countries any teaching-oriented positions in scientific disciplines at universities?


Many places in Europe try to follow US examples, and that involves promoting research first, as a way of educating the faculty itself. Of course a acclaimed handbook author like Tom Cormen would almost always get the job anyway.

It is noted that there is many more postdoc positions than professorial positions worldwide. Even if there are professors that focus mostly on teaching, they would not be advertised by universities trying to attract research funding.

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  • 2
    Even Tom Cormen got his faculty position on the strength of his research, not on the fame of the textbook he wrote (with two and later three other coauthors whose names appear later in the alphabet). – JeffE Jun 30 '18 at 13:25
  • I'd note that the US has a wide spectrum of types of colleges & universities: those that stop at PhD, MS, BS and associates degrees. To a first-order approximation, only the doctoral-granting schools are historically "research first" with low teaching loads, the rest being mainly teaching-oriented. All types can have tenured faculty. Basically if you want to teach doctoral students, you will need to get the funding for them too. – A Simple Algorithm Jun 30 '18 at 13:54

In Poland, it is possible to work at a university primarily as a teacher, including STEM areas like physics or engineering classes. Such people are often not required to conduct scientific research at all, or they only need to contribute a little scientifically. However, they are not considered full professors and do not receive the same salary, even if their positions are permanent.

Unfortunately, if you are a researcher from another country, it would be probably quite difficult to find such a position. They are not very common (universities tend to prefer research-focused posts in order to attract more funding) and fluent Polish is practically always a requirement.

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