Thinking of applying for any of our Lectureships in African Studies and in International Development?
The following are some of my personal thoughts from 'the inside' of our recruitment process in the Centre of African Studies, within the School of Social and Political Science, where we seek to appoint to three Lecturers.
Details about the vacancies, and the application procedure, are outlined on our vacancies page - click here.
Here I attempt to address one aspect of the informal side of recruitment, where those in particular networks can sometimes be in a stronger position to take advantage of perceived privileged information. This in itself can at times be enough to put some people off from seeking information beyond that mentioned in the Vacancy Details text. (I know, because in the past I've been put off applying for posts elsewhere where I thought there was a clique that I wouldn't be able to join!)
What I am offering here is the kind of information I would give you if you did call me for a chat about applying for any of the posts. It is based, in part, on questions that have already come up from potential applicants for posts in the Centre of African Studies.
How many posts are being advertised?
These are three different jobs, which means we're looking for three different people. You can apply for any, or for all:
- Lecturer in African Studies (full-time, open-ended, from January 2019)
- Lecturer in Africa and International Development (full-time, open-ended, from January 2019)
- Lecturer in African Studies and Development (full-time, fixed-term duration, from January 2019 until end December 2020)
As in the Vacancy Details text, you should submit one application form and set of materials, whether you are applying for one, two, or all three of these posts. Your letter of application (more on this below) should begin with a bullet-pointed list specifying the post(s) for which you are applying.
Should you apply?
If you think you meet the criteria as outlined in the Vacancy Details text: yes! As the ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky (or his coach) said, 'You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.'
Note also that the Vacancy Details text mentions that the University holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. I know from my time in the School that Athena SWAN is taken very seriously.
The Vacancy Details text also points to the University's membership of the Race Equality Charter. This aims to improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education. The Centre of African Studies is fully committed to the Race Equality Charter.
What documents are required?
I've clicked on Apply at the bottom of the Vacancy Details text and, after a little protesting from the website – presumably wondering why I'm wanting to start this process again…! – I filled out the Personal Details and was then taken to the Application Checklist. Most of the links (Qualifications, Relevant Training, and so on) are straightforward. The Additional Questions section appears a bit daunting, but you should know the answers/replies without needing to delve into too many old files.
The Vacancy Details text reads that 'The application must also include, in addition to the letter of application, a CV and a sample of written work'. To clarify, this means that you need to upload:
- a letter of application (sometimes called a 'cover letter')
- your CV
- a writing sample
The Application Checklist also provides a link to a Supporting Statement, where you have a maximum of 2,000 Characters, including spaces, to 'state your reasons for applying and why you believe you meet the person specification set out in the further particulars'.
The letter of application would be the opportunity to expand on what you can offer CAS and the School. It would certainly be worth reflecting on the nature of our call for the post(s) you are applying for so that you can clearly show that you meet the criteria. The letter of application can be two or three pages in length, or even longer, but do try to also show your concise writing skills.
You can find advice online about how to write a cover letter. Do be wary of advice aimed (for example) towards a US market, where the assumptions and requirements may be very different.
Any text about what you plan to do as a lecturer will probably seem more realistic if there is already some sort of track record that shows delivery. If you've just finished your PhD, we'll of course take this into account and not expect you to have published a monograph, for example, or to have taught huge classes. But you should be able to show potential to publish material from your PhD, and have plenty of ideas about what your research experience can bring to being a lecturer in the Centre of African Studies.
What does the Centre of African Studies 'feel like' as a lecturer?
The Centre of African Studies is a fun and vibrant place with many gifted scholars. We are research active, and aim to bring our enthusiasm for research to our students. Students based in the Centre are all postgraduates, either at Masters level or working on a PhD, and we also teach some key undergraduate courses. You might think about how you would contribute in this context.
Our teaching takes place in two ten-week semesters: September to December, and January to March. From April until August our Masters students work on their dissertations, which involves supervision and then marking. During the academic year, our doctoral students are either preparing for fieldwork, conducting fieldwork, or writing up.
In very rough terms, the breakdown of tasks as a lecturer in the Centre is approximately 35% teaching, 35% research, and 30% administration; although this changes depending on the stage of the academic year, and on whether you are working on an externally-funded research project.
If you have any further questions that are not answered in the Vacancy Details text, please contact Hazel.Gray@ed.ac.uk (+44 (0)131 651 5534, until 31 August) or Thomas.Molony@ed.ac.uk (+44 (0)131 650 6976, 1 September to 11 September).
If you do apply, you will be notified by email whether you have been shortlisted for interview or not. If you are invited for an interview, definitely pick up the phone and give me a call!
Director, Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh