We are recruiting two lecturers in Politics at the University of Stirling.

I am the pre-interview contact point and these are my personal thoughts on that process, which blend background information and some helpful advice. One lectureship is in Political Economy and the other is Comparative European Politics. Our department currently has 6.3 permanent lecturers, and three of us are fairly new, so you will have the chance to play an important part of a group which is small enough to act collectively – to, for example, influence its research direction. 5.3 of those lecturers are men and I would be happy if the best candidates proved to be women. At the very least, I hope that the current set up does not put off women or ethnic minorities from applying – particularly since two new appointments in such a small group can shift the balance considerably.

Here is some generic advice, to give you the chance to focus on specific follow-up questions:

  • At this stage, the main documents are the CV and the cover letter.
  • I think you should keep the cover letter short (1 or 2 pages), if only to show an ability for concise writing. Also remember that we are likely to read over 100 applications.
  • Shortlisted candidates will almost certainly have a PhD and a promising publication record. ‘Promising’ is hard to define at this early stage of your career, but things like publication in recognisable journals (perhaps with a mix between single and co-authored) may stand out.
  • My preference is to focus on what people have already done, rather than what they promise to do over the next five years. I find those plans more realistic if there is already some sort of track record.
  • Although research has a tendency to dominate University life, we take teaching very seriously. We plan an overall curriculum together, discuss regularly if it is working, and come to agreements about how to teach and assess work. We pride ourselves on being a small and friendly bunch of people, open to regular student contact and, for example, committed to meaningful and regular feedback. You might think about how you would contribute in that context.
  • The presentation and interview will be on separate dates. So, although the interview date is the 17th July, note that we will ask you to make a presentation to divisional staff on the 16th (and, if you are not local, stay in the nice campus hotel).
  • Again, I recommend keeping the presentation compact, to show that you can present complex information in a concise and clear way. Presentations are usually a mix of what you do in research and what you will contribute in a wider sense to the University.
  • The interview panel will be five people: me, the Head of Division of History and Politics, the Head of School of Arts and Humanities, a senior manager of the University (in the chair), and a senior academic in another School. It sounds daunting, but we are a friendly bunch and want you to do well.
  • ‘Why Stirling?’ or ‘Why this division?’ is usually the first question in an interview, so you should have a think about it in advance. I recommend doing some research on Stirling and the division/ school, to show in some detail that you have a considered reply (beyond ‘it is a beautiful campus’) (see here – rough idea – for an idea of what you may be expected to teach). You might also check, for example, who you might develop links with beyond the division (such as the new Centre for Gender & Feminist Studies in our school) or school (such as the School of Applied Social Science) – since this is likely to be a featured question too. Then you might think about what you would bring to the University in a wider sense, such as through well-established (domestic and international) links with other scholars in academic networks. Further, since ‘impact’ is of rising importance, you might discuss your links with people and organisations outside of the University, and how you have pursued meaningful engagement with the public or practitioners to maximise the wider contribution of your research.

I am happy to answer your questions. We can try email first – p.a.cairney@stir.ac.uk – and then phone or skype if you prefer. If appropriate, I can also use those questions to update this page.


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