We are recruiting a lecturer in Politics at the University of Stirling (open ended contract)

‘The Division of History, Heritage and Politics wishes to appoint a suitably qualified and experienced Grade 7/8 Lecturer in Politics. The appointee will pursue a programme of research, including research outputs and funding applications, in the field of Scottish or UK politics and governance. We are open to different ways to approach this field, including to relate UK and devolved politics to comparative or multi-level analysis, and/ or a critical focus on gendered and racialised dimensions of politics. The appointee will be joining a team producing interdisciplinary research, which includes politics and policies related to human rights, justice, climate change, energy, security, resource conflict, health and sustainable development’.

Vacancy details | University of Stirling

I am one of the pre-interview contacts and these are my personal thoughts on that process, which blend background information and some helpful advice. These notes are also there to address a potentially major imbalance in the informal side to recruitment: if you do not have the contacts and networks that help give you the confidence to seek information (on the things not mentioned in the further particulars), here is the next best thing: the information I would otherwise give you on the phone. This approach is also handy under the current circumstances, in which (a) the vacancy will run for a short period (3 weeks, with a deadline of 14th June, and interviews on 30th June), because (b) we need someone to start in September. I am out of the office until the 1st June, but happy to chat (or reply to your emailed – p.a.cairney at stir.ac.uk – questions soon after).

Here are some general tips on the application and interview processes.

The application process:

  • At this stage, the main documents are the CV and the cover letter.
  • You should keep the cover letter short to show your skills at concise writing (I suggest 1-page). Focus on what you can offer the Division specifically, given the nature of our call and further particulars. For example, we need someone to coordinate our first Politics module for undergraduates.
  • Lecturers will be competing with many people who have completed a PhD and have some publications – so what makes your CV stand out?
  • We take teaching very seriously. Within our division, 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. In your case, we will also contribute lectures to the module that you would coordinate.
  • You might think generally about how you would contribute to teaching and learning in that context. In particular, you should think about how, for example, you would deliver large undergraduate modules (in which you may only be an expert on some of the material) as well as the smaller, more specialist and advanced, modules closer to your expertise. However, please also note that your main initial contribution is specific:

The appointee will contribute to our successful Masters Programmes – in International Conflict and Cooperation (ICC) or Master of Public Policy (MPP) – and BA programmes in Politics, as well as doctoral and dissertation supervision. An ability to coordinate and deliver the first undergraduate module – POLU9A1 People, Power, and the State: An Introduction to Politics –  as well as design an advanced undergraduate and postgraduate module, is essential. The ability to teach qualitative or quantitative research methods is welcome’.

The interview process

The shortlisting should be finished by the 22nd June so, all going well, you will know if you have reached the interview stage by 26th June. The presentations and interviews will take place – ideally in person, but possibly on Teams – on 30th June. 

The interview stage

By the interview stage, here are the things that you should normally know:

  • The teaching and research specialisms of the division and their links to cross-divisional research.
  • The kinds of courses that the division would expect you to teach.

Perhaps most importantly, you need to be able to articulate why you want to come and work at Stirling. ‘Why Stirling?’ or ‘Why this division?’ is usually the first question in an interview, so you should think about it in advance. We recommend doing some research on Stirling and the division/ faculty, to show in some detail that you have a considered reply (beyond the usual ‘it is a beautiful campus’ and ‘I need a job’). Since it is the first question, your answer will set the tone for the rest of the interview. You might check, for example, who you might share interests with in the Division, and how you might develop links beyond the division or faculty, 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.

The interview format

For open-ended contracts, we tend to combine (a) presentations to divisional staff in the morning, with (b) interviews in the afternoon. They will be in person if possible (but Teams if need be). The usual expectation is that if you can’t make the date, you can’t get the job. In addition:

  • We 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. Please note that most of your interview panel will not attend the presentation.
  • The usual interview panel format at this level is four members: one subject specialist from the Division (in this case, me), one member of the Faculty (in this case, our Head of Division), the Dean of Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and a senior academic in another Faculty.
  • So, only 1 member of your panel will be a specialist in Politics. This means that (at the very least) you need to describe your success in a way that a wider audience will appreciate. For example, you would have to explain the significance of a single-author article in the top-rated journal in your field.

It sounds daunting, but we are a friendly bunch and want you to do well. You might struggle to retain all of our names (nerves), so focus on the types of question we ask – for example, the general question to get you started will be from the senior manager, and the research question from the divisional representative. Our 4-person panels tend to be gender balanced but are often all-white panels. I hope that you can see other more useful signals about our commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion.

I am happy to answer your questions, via email in the first instance  p.a.cairney@stir.ac.uk

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