Written by Kevin Tai
This section is for anyone who is considering an academic career! If you are interested in both research and teaching university students, then perhaps becoming a university lecturer is a choice for you to consider.
In order to become a university lecturer, you need a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree. PhD normally lasts for 3-4 years and in order to apply for PhD, you are required to have a good Master degree. However, this is not always the case. There are some academics gain direct entry to PhD after their completion of their undergraduate degrees. This is not an ‘easy-step’ because you need to have some impressive research experience and excellent academic results (at least a First class honours degree) when you are undertaking your undergrad degree. Therefore, you will normally spend 3 years for your undergraduate degree, then a year for your master and finally another 3 years (possibly 4 years too) for your PhD. This will eventually require 7-8 years for you to complete this whole ‘mission’.
My suggestion to all of you is that you need to think seriously about what it is you are hoping for from an academic career, and talk it over with your peers, mentors or a careers adviser. Most of the academics at the SELLL enjoy their teaching very much and almost everyone engage with their research on a very personal level, stressing that this is precisely the type of work they want to do.
Moreover, there are research scholarships for Newcastle University 2nd year students and this is an excellent chance for you to get a better insight about research methodologies. This will, of course, look good on your CV and this is also something you can talk about when you are having interviews for your Post-grad degree applications (Both Universities of Oxford and Cambridge require prospective candidates to go to their universities for interviews). The research scholarships aim to ‘provide undergraduates who have research potential with experience of research and to encourage them to take further postgraduate study’. Please find more information in this website: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/students/wellbeing/finance/funding/ukstudents/vacation/
It is also important to bear in mind that getting involved in student representation allows you to understand more about higher education and get to know more academic staff across the whole university! I am a SELLL course rep and I am eligible to sign up as members of university management committees. I recently joined the Learning and Teaching Review (LTR) Visit Committee which is under the University Learning and Teaching Development Centre and I was so excited that l had the opportunity to work with a group of professors. You get to learn more about higher education, management of teaching and learning, quality assurance and quality enhancement. There is a lot to gain from being a student member of an LTR review team. You are expected to prepare for the visit, speak to other student’s representatives, attend meetings, and interact with the other members of the team. This will give student panel members to enhance employability, as your CV will benefit from gaining communication, team working, decision making and governance awareness skills. It also provides a chance for you to influence university decisions. Additionally, you have the opportunity to gain new perspectives on student experience and university life by working alongside experienced academic staff and meeting students on other courses.