Research Professor (HE in the UK)

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Job Description

Research Professors have a primary responsibility for leading the research culture in their department. They may also teach students at higher education institutions. In many cases they will do less undergraduate teaching and focus more on teaching postgraduates. But the main focus of the job will involve their own research activities including presenting research findings at conferences worldwide. Research Professors 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. Research Professors will be expected to take part in the strategic planning and decision making for their department.


  • 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. £50,000 in the UK. This is often based on individual merit and is achieved by negotiation with the employer. There are opportunities to earn considerably more in international positions.

Most research professorships are permanent positions. Most are full time, 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 UCU union.

Entry Criteria

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

Career Path

There are steady annual salary increments in most jobs. Some scholars remain at Research Professorship 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 into management Research Professors 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. But they will also need to take an active part in the management of their department and faculty.

Major employers

HE Research Professors 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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