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Pendaran Roberts

Here's a serious problem for many UK early career philosophers. To get a tenure-track position you need to have a decent amount of experience teaching, designing, and running courses. However, most PhD students in the UK don't get much if any chance to do this.

Those of us who work really hard though do have a chance to publish. So, the best of us graduate with a few publications. We thus stand a chance for a research position. Many of these in the UK also do not emphasise teaching, and many are rather short-term.

There are short-term teaching positions, but these tend to go to inside candidates. So, it's difficult unless you're the chosen inside candidate to get teaching experience.

It's doubly difficult because if you're applying to these teaching positions without much teaching experience, you don't stand a chance. It's a catch 22. You need teaching experience to get a teaching position, and you need a teaching position to get teaching experience.

This is my experience at least. I'm a great publisher but have really struggled to get teaching in the UK. Thus, I think my teaching experience is probably less than many of my US competitors. Of course, perhaps my publication list is longer? I don't know...

Joshua Mugg

Also, sometimes VAP positions can turn into permanent gigs. I was hired for a one year VAP on July 30 last year. They did a fly out too. They then offered me a permanent position as 'Lecturer' in October this last fall (at a regional campus in the Indiana University system).

This came really late in the game for me. I had one interview for a TT position in late March, then one for VAP positions in May (funding fell through on that one), and finally two skype interviews July, one of which panned out!

(B.N: I'm not claiming that VAP--> Permanent Position is the norm, and my position is 4-4 'Lecturer' instead of 3-3 'TT'.)

Joshua Mugg


Is there adjunct work in the UK in addition to the short-term teaching positions? My grad school union only allowed grad students to teach one course EVER during their PhD. Knowing that I needed a TONE of teaching exp, I started adjuncting at a local community college and a liberal arts college in a nearby city (2 hour commute). I ended up teaching a few online courses for them later one, which helped me land my current position.

Even if you don't need the cash for teaching, it's often worth it for the CV/exp.


Pendaran Roberts

Hi Dr Mugg ;)

I'm afraid adjunct positions don't exist here. (They'd probably be illegal) We do have part-time teaching positions though, which are similar.

Problem: My wife works at Warwick. So, I can't move to another city really. And it doesn't make much sense to do so for a part-time position.

I may eventually get some teaching at my fellowship at Warwick, but they need to find the money. They can't legally give me teaching and not pay me.

It's just difficult I think. Especially when your spouse is also an academic.

Pendaran Roberts

In fact, that'd be another interesting discussion: How to survive as an academic couple! haha!

Someone with a spouse

Your situation is a tough one. I am more familiar with the North American job market than the UK market. But, I frequently see young academics putting lots of constraints on where they will apply. I can understand this. One may be committing to live in a place for the next 30 or so years of one's life. And ... committing one's family to live there as well. But people must realize that as they put further constraints they drastically reduce their chances of getting a job. If I do not want to live in large parts of America - parts where 50 % of the jobs are - then I have effectively cut myself off of 50 % of the available jobs.
Now your predicament with teaching experience ... clearly this is an issue of balancing short term against long term benefits. It may be in your interest to be apart from your spouse for a year or so NOW, in order to get jobs where you can be together in the long run. Alternatively, you may find yourself choosing not to have an academic job at all, by default. And this may lead to resentment.

Pendaran Roberts

Lots of academic couples end up doing long distance. I did that for a year already. I'm not doing it again.

Maybe if I knew it would guarantee me a TT job, but it doesn't.


I had two Skype interviews for a postdoc position. The second interview was supposed to be in place of a fly out. I was told they would be making the decision in 1-2 weeks. Three weeks later I received a form rejection email. Is this an accepted norm? I would have thought that since we had two extensive conversations, I would get some sort of brief but personal email. But perhaps this is just how the game is played these days?

Marcus Arvan

Hi thoughts?: I don't know what is an accepted norm, and indeed, I'm not sure there are any. In my years on the market, I received bad news in just about every way you could imagine: personal phone calls, impersonal emails, and even no notification at all. For what it's worth, I'm not sure it would be working at a place that can't bother to give a personal phone call after a flyout.


Hey Marcus,

Yeah others have said what you have. That an institution who would not even bother with a personal call is not worth working for. (I would have settled for a personal email. The note they sent was one they sent to all applicants, "We had many qualified candidates this year...")

The thing is, for many on the market, we want to work for somebody, and if the only somebodys out there are jerks, we will put up with it.

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