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Lecturer is the name given to university teachers in most of the English-speaking world (but not at most universities in the U.S. or Canada) who do not hold a professorship. The term is used differently in the U.S., Canada, and other countries influenced by their educational systems.


[edit] United Kingdom

Lecturers in the UK hold permanent positions in a university which involve carrying out both teaching and research. The term was originally used in contrast to Professor, which was an extremely prestigious and high ranking position typically held by only one or a very few in a department, and Readers. Neither position traditionally required any teaching, although normally professors or readers would do so at least occasionally by choice. Because there was no promotion path for lecturers who did not excel at research, the position Senior Lecturer has more recently been developed.

Currently in most universities in the UK all of these positions require teaching. However, a professor is still the most prestigious and highly paid position, and is normally achieved as a promotion after a readership. The promotion to reader requires external letters of recommendation (as does a professor, similar to US tenure), a strong publication record and (often) a strong record of gaining research funding. A senior lectureship is theoretically equivalent to a readership and demands the same salary, but may reflect prowess in teaching or administration rather than research, and is far less likely to lead directly to promotion to professor.

"New" British universities (that is, universities that were until recently termed polytechnics) have a slightly different naming scheme than that just described, which can confuse naive or foreign academics looking for positions (see table.) Also, some established universities have recently began using somewhat more American terminology (see note on table.) Further, the oldest and most prestigious universities (e.g. Oxford and Cambridge) have more arcane arrangements. At Oxford in particular, lecturing is heavy teaching position, while most people who will eventually acquire the more senior academic ranks come into the university initially as research fellows, not lecturers.

Roughly equivalent academic positions as determined by prestige.
UK University UK "New" University US University or College
Lecturer (A) LecturerAssistant Professor
Lecturer (B) Senior Lecturer
Senior Lecturer Principal Lecturer (pre-tenure) Associate Professor
Reader<ref>As of 2006, a few British Universities are beginning to use the title Associate Professor instead of Reader in current job advertising. Warwick was the first to do so, and Exeter and Nottingham have followed. </ref> Reader Associate Professor (with tenure)
Professor Professor Full Professor (with a chair)

The UK has largely given up the tenure system. This means on the one hand that lecturers have permanent positions as soon as they pass a probation (which normally requires no more than three years and is much less arduous than tenure), but on the other that a University can decide to make an entire department redundant, laying off even senior academic staff such as professors. Because there is no tenure bottleneck, UK academics can spend their entire careers in the lower tiers of the academic hierarchy.

Most lecturers in the UK have Ph.D.s. In many fields this is now a prerequisite of the job, though historically this was not the case --- even senior academic positions such as readerships could be held on the basis of research merit alone without formal doctoral qualification.

In the UK, before a candidate is appointed to a lectureship, it is generally required that the candidate spend at least a term as a postdoctoral researcher, a position that carries a low salary but is a requirement to learn the ropes and to establish new research paths following a Ph.D. specialisation.

[edit] Australia and New Zealand

Australian and New Zealand (Aotearoa) University models are based on the United Kingdom (primarily English and Scottish) model. Their approach to promotion policies and rank are an obvious case in point. One difference however is their use of the North American "associate professor" role. Which in this context is equivalent to the British reader role not the North American Senior Lecturer equivalent, - and thus a more senior position than an North American associate professor. Some universities use associate professor and reader, while others use associate professor alone. Few now use reader alone. The use of the associate professor title is unfortunately highly misleading for academics familiar with the North American university system as it suggests a role that has a different meaning in their setting.

[edit] United States and Canada

Some American universities have Lecturers whose responsibility is only undergraduate education, especially for introductory/survey courses that attract large groups of students. In contrast, U.S. professors have permanent or tenure-track positions which include responsibility for research. The most common US terminology for these non-tenur track academic positions is "Instructor," or "Adjunct Professor". However, this non-British usage of the term "lecturer" is increasingly coming in to use (e.g. at Harvard and MIT), creating confusion on the term's meaning. Many US lecturers or adjuncts are themselves graduate students and may be taking courses and working towards Ph. D. dissertation. Some have already completed the Ph. D. but do not yet have a tenured position as a professor. A full-time lecturing position in North America (in contrast to part-time adjuncts performed during a PhD) usually involves courses with heavy teaching and/or marking loads and does not normally allow for time to do research. Such positions are also not normally permanent and therefore do not allow for hiring or formally advising other research group members or graduate students.

Academics desiring a position as junior faculty might choose to first work as lecturers in order to secure the teaching experience required to qualify them for a tenure-track position. The position is generally less prestigious than the entry-level assistant professorship (which is the equivalent of a UK lecturer). The salary is considerably lower than a US professorship, and tenure is generally impossible. US lecturing may not require a doctoral degree, depending on the university (see the article, "professor"), though a Master's degree (or at least 18 hours of graduate level work in a particular field) usually is required.

Many US universities are currently hiring more part-time and full-time lecturers to replace full professors who die or retire. Using lecturers to teach an increasing number of courses is viewed as a cost-saving measure by some university administrations, or as a means of reducing teaching load on professors so they can concentrate on research and fund raising. Many of these positions are being sponsored by regional studies programs for the purpose of training and specialization on a particular region[citation needed].

It should be noted, however, that the title is sometimes, paradoxically, used in just the opposite sense: in some institutions, a "lecturer" is actually a higher rank than full professor, a sort of "grand old man" of the college or university: Amherst College, for instance, long listed Henry Steele Commager as "lecturer," the only one in the college, placing him in a symbolic position of seniormost member of the faculty.

In some schools "lecturer" is a temporary post for visiting academic celebrities -- a famous writer may be made a "lecturer" for a term or a year, for instance, teaching a course and leading a lecture series, without regard to their academic degrees.

Thus, the sequence from juniormost to seniormost teaching faculty position in most US universities and colleges is:

  • teaching assistant (a graduate student)
  • instructor (usually a newly-minted Ph. D.; no tenure)
  • adjunct professor (a part-time, untenured post; often holds a doctorate but not always)
  • assistant professor (except for medical schools, usually a full-time post; doctorate necessary)
  • associate professor (a full-time post, usually with tenure)
  • professor ("full professor" -- only a few, usually, in each department)
  • "chaired professor" (a professor who holds a named, sometimes endowed, chair, as the "John Smith Professor of Economics" -- a step up in prestige from a "simple" full professor; sometimes called "distinguished professor" or "university professor")

with the term "lecturer" very flexible in its meaning and usage.

[edit] Germany, Austria, Switzerland

There are a kind of lecturers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, the Privatdozent. Privatdozent or PD is a purely academic title that gives the holder the right to teach at the university but is not necessarily linked to a function in a university department. In difference to PDs, the UK lecturer always leads his/her own research group like a professor and is a salaried position. In Switzerland and Germany, however, many PDs have permanent full-time appointments at universities and lead independent research groups with responsibilities very similar to a US associate professor. The teaching by PDs is normally paid with lecture fees, generating an additional income.

[edit] Other countries

In other countries, usage of lecturer may vary unpredictably. For example, in Indonesia, the term lektor is used for five different fairly senior research and teaching positions approximately equivalent to the US associate professor, while in Poland lektor is a term used for a teaching-only position, generally for teaching foreign languages.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes


[edit] External links

cs:Docent de:Lecturer he:מרצה


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