Reader (HE)

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Job Description

Readers teach students at higher education institutions. Teaching usually takes place between 9am and 6pm although some Readers are also required to teach in the evenings. Readers divide them time between classroom hours and preparing for teaching or meeting students privately. The job will also involve research activities if based in a higher education establishment, including presenting research findings at conferences worldwide. Readers are also required to seek external funding for their research activities to enhance the prestige of their institution and to initiate research projects that involve connections with scholars at other institutions in the UK and overseas. They may also be involved in initiatives working with other public sector bodies and the private sector. Readers will be expected to take part in the strategic planning and decision making for their department. In many cases they will do less undergraduate teaching and focus more on teaching postgraduates.


  • Delivering large group lectures to between 20 and 200 students
  • Delivering small group teaching to between 1 and 20 students
  • Pastoral care of students
  • One to one advice on particular pieces of work
  • Course design
  • Lecture/seminar planning
  • Marking assessed work
  • Keeping student records of achievement
  • Attending planning meetings to ensure cross departmental parity
  • Leading research projects and managing research teams
  • Presenting research at conferences
  • Administration tasks (eg admissions tutor) within the department

Salary and Conditions

  • Starting salary usually c. £35,000-£60,000 in the UK.
  • Most readerships are permanent full-time positions, although part time posts and job shares are occasionally available.
  • Permanent staff can opt into a final salary pension scheme (Teachers Pension Scheme).
  • Sick pay allowance varies from institution to institution but is often more generous than the private sector.
  • Maternity and paternity leave also vary from institution to institution.
  • Staff can join the University and College Union.

Entry Criteria

Most Readers will have a PhD. They will have a very good bachelor’s degree: a first or upper second class. Some Readers have a separate masters degree, especially in the humanities fields. Very rarely a Reader with personal vocational experience will be taken on without a PhD.

Readers are expected to do take part in Continuing Professional Development activities throughout their career, run by their own university. This is done part time while working.

Career Path

There are steady annual salary increments in most jobs. After a few years a Reader can apply for promotion to Professor if a vacancy arises although this can be sought earlier in special cases.

The next scale is professor. Some scholars remain at that level for the rest of their career, others go into management and may take on the role of Head of Department or Dean of School.

To increase promotion chances Readers are advised to produce internationally renowned research, publishing their work in reputable journals and books and attending conferences, and being innovative in their teaching practice.

Major employers

HE Readers are mostly employed in publicly funded universities or HE colleges. There are many different sorts of these in the UK. Oxford and Cambridge are the most prestigious, followed by research-based institutions such as the Russell Group. The post-1992 group of universities, which used to be Polytechnics, are also large employers of lecturers. There is one private university in the UK, based in Buckingham. Every large town or city in the UK now has its own university.

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