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Centre of African Studies: News


Thinking of applying for one the two CAS lectureships?

Some thoughts from even deeper inside the recruitment process.

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 two Lecturers to start work in December 2019. This is an updated version of some notes I wrote last time we were recruiting. From that process we are pleased to have appointed four excellent new colleagues: Akin Iwilade, Kevin Donovan, Maggie Dwyer and Rama Dieng.

Details about the new 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 two jobs that hold the same title:

- Lecturer in African Studies and International Development (full-time, fixed-term duration, for a maximum of three years from December 2019)

The starting month of December 2019 is not negotiable. December will be for induction, settling in, learning the ropes, and preparing for teaching in January 2020.

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?

You're probably best asking Akin, Kevin, Maggie or Rama...! But from my perspective, 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 me at Thomas.Molony{AT}

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!


Tom Molony

Director, Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh

Grad School