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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

Working in Academia

Many students who continue their education after they graduate next go into a career within academia. This field is more than just lecturing, with positions including Postdoctoral research, research fellows and, further up the ladder, professors. Working in academia is a great way of furthering and expanding the skills you have learned in your degree, allowing you to specialise and teach others.


The work of an academic typically combines research, teaching, administrative and leadership responsibilities. An academic will no doubt at some point have to balance these roles in what can be a diverse and rewarding career.

Roles could vary from teaching at an Undergraduate or Postgraduate level, to making applications for funding, attending conferences, building collaborations with other institutions and taking part in research with other academics.

Administrative tasks typically range from the preparation and design of courses, setting examinations and marking, through to attending meetings and involvement in policy decisions.


Skills Required:

•A passion for your subject is crucial for a role in academia. You will need to be enthusiastic about what you do and instil this passion in everyone that you teach and supervise.

•Good organisational skills, since the workload can be heavy and varied.

•Must be able to communicate effectively, especially in lectures, but also in team meetings and when communicating with other lecturers or other, external academics.

•Patience, as with any role in teaching, since it will require helping students grasp sometimes complex subjects and ideas.

Things to Consider:

A career in academia can be a great way of furthering your learning and using your skills to help others. Furthermore you can specialise in a topic of interest to you.

It is important to realize that the workload can be very heavy at times, especially around essay hand-in dates and examination periods. A academic also must organise how to balance their own research with their teaching commitments.  In addition academics are required to manage their own workload and to take responsibility for their own self-management and motivation.

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Prospects- Academic job

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Tom Lawrence

Tom Lawrence studied BSc Sociology at the University of Southampton and is now a Teaching Assistant.

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