SOAS University of London

Academic Promotion Procedure

Academic Promotions Procedures

  1. General Information
  2. Criteria  
  3. Material to be provided by the Candidate   
  4. Material to be provided by the Head of Department    
  5. Faculty Promotions Panel Procedure   
  6. School Promotions Panel Procedure  
  7. Feedback   
  8. Timetable   
  9. Staff Retention   
  10. Appeals   
  11. Supporting Documents
1. General Information
1.1. This document details School procedures for academic promotions from:
1.1.2. Lecturer to Senior Lecturer, Reader or Professor
1.1.3. Senior Lecturer to Reader or Professor
1.1.4. Reader to Professor.

1.2. The procedures approved by Academic Board incorporate the following principles:
  • A Lecturer may be promoted either to Senior Lecturer or to Reader, and exceptionally may be promoted to Professor
  • A Senior Lecturer may be promoted either to Reader or to Professor
  • Readers are eligible for promotion to Professor
  • The School Promotions Panel will consider applications for promotion from Faculty Promotion Panels either
    • via Heads of Department
    • by direct applications from individual members of staff to the appropriate Dean, following the approved procedures.
1.2.1. Candidates seeking promotion should apply via their Head of Department, who will provide an evaluation of the application.

1.2.2. Where a member of staff does not feel it appropriate to make an application via their Head of Department, they may make a direct application to the Dean of Faculty. An application made through either route will be given equal consideration.

1.3. Promotion from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer is subject to internal procedures, but appointments to Reader and Professor follow University of London procedures that have been devolved to the federal Colleges.

1.4. Academic promotions are considered by an advisory Faculty Promotions Panel and agreed by a School Promotions Panel. Decisions are put forward to Board of Trustees for formal endorsement.

1.5. The membership of the School Promotions Panel will reflect a gender balance as far as is reasonably possible, and comprise:
  • Director (Chair) ex officio
  • Pro-Directors ex officio
  • Chair of Equality & Diversity Committee ex officio
  • Three Deans ex officio
  • Six Professors, two from each Faculty, each of whom would normally be a member of a Faculty Promotions Panel, or have experience of being a member of a Faculty Promotions Panel or the School Promotions Panel. These members should not be Heads of Department or senior office holders.
1.5.1. A Professor from the University of London would normally sit in on meetings of the School Promotions Panel as an observer and report annually to the Board of Trustees.

1.5.2. The Director of Human Resources or nominee will act as Secretary.

2. Criteria

2.1 Candidates will be expected to have successfully performed the duties outlined in their current job description (Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Reader).

2.2 For purposes of promotion, candidates will be assessed by reference to their scholarly and other contribution to the School as evidenced in the Academic Performance Framework (a copy can also be found at Appendix A)

2.3 The academic performance framework sets out the required evidence of achievement under the following areas and sub-categories:

2.3.1 Teaching & Learning

  • Teaching delivery
  • Student experience
  • Pedagogy
  • Professional development

2.3.2 Research & Enterprise

  • Publications
  • Research planning
  • Research funding
  • PhD supervision
  • Professional development

2.3.3 Administration, Management & Outreach

  • Internal
  • External
3. Material to be provided by the Candidate

3.1 Before putting forward an application, it is strongly recommended that candidates seek advice from their Head of Department and/or Dean as to the appropriateness of the application.

3.2 It is the responsibility of each candidate to ensure that all paperwork provided by them is complete and compliant. Supplementary materials are not required and will not be provided to the Promotions panels.

3.3 Incomplete or non-compliant applications will be disqualified from consideration in that year’s promotions round. Applications can not be modified after the application deadline.

3.4 The candidate should provide their Head of Department or Dean (cc’d to their Faculty Administrator) with the following documentation by 13 October:

  • Academic Promotions Application Form (msword; 39kb)  
  • Personal Circumstances statement
    In order that consideration can be given to all relevant factors, candidates are encouraged to indicate any individual circumstances that they feel may have seriously affected their output. Specific details do not have to be described (e.g. it is not necessary to describe a disability). A range of personal circumstances can be taken into account

          Some examples are as follows:

  • Absences due to maternity, adoption, parental or carers leave
  • Periods of part-time working
  • Breaks in employment due to non-consecutive fixed term contracts
  • Disability, including temporary incapacity that lasts for more than six months
  • Absence due to ill-health or injury
  • Absences for more than six consecutive months (i.e. career breaks)
  • Special leave of absence on secondment to other organisations
  • This is not an exhaustive list. If candidates have any personal circumstances which they consider to have had an    impact on their output these should be detailed in the Academic Promotions Form.
  • Electronic copies of three examples of published work, with reviews where appropriate.
    These pieces of work should be those which the candidate considers to be representative of his or her best work to date. Please note that research outputs other than monographs and articles in peer reviewed journals will be considered, for example, performances, electronic media, exhibitions. Where electronic copies are unavailable, two hard copies of each example should be provided.
  • The Faculty Promotions Panel and the School Promotions Panel will also be looking for evidence of continuing research activity and, where possible, at least one of the pieces of work should give an indication of the likely future direction of the candidate’s research and publications.
  • A full Publications List, with complete bibliographic information for each publication.
  • Details of suitable external referees, which have been agreed with the Head of Department (or Dean in the case of a direct application).
  • Candidates applying for promotion to Senior Lecturer should provide details of two external referees.
  • Candidates applying for promotion to Reader/Professor should provide details of four external referees.
  • Referees should not normally be a candidates PhD supervisor or a close, present or past collaborator. If it is proposed to use a PhD supervisor or collaborator as a referee this must be approved by the Chair of the School Promotions Panel.
  • As a general rule, referees should be of a status at least equal to the promotion being sought.
  • The name, address, e-mail and telephone number of the proposed referees should be provided on the Academic Promotions Referee Nomination (msword; 40kb)  .
  • The Faculty Promotions Panel will determine the referees to be approached in support of the application.
  • All referees should be contacted by the candidate in advance to ensure that they would be willing to provide a reference.
4. Material to be provided by the Head of Department

4.1 The Head of Department or Dean should provide their Faculty Administrator with the following documentation by 28 October:

  • Head of Department Evaluation Form (msword; 41kb)  . The Head of Department should provide an evaluation of the application in relation to the applicable criteria.
  • In the case where a direct application is being made to the Dean of Faculty, it will be the responsibility of the Dean to ensure that they have sufficient evidence to complete the evaluation and to submit this along with the items provided by the candidate.
  • Details of supplementary external referees.
  • In the case of applications for promotion to Senior Lecturer, the Head of Department or Dean should nominate two additional external referees.
  • In the case of applications for promotion to Reader or Professor, the Head of Department or Dean should nominate four additional external referees, including at least one who can be asked to read and evaluate the three examples of published work.
  • Referees should not normally be a candidate’s PhD supervisor or a close, present or past collaborator. If it is proposed to use a PhD supervisor or collaborator as a referee this must be approved by the Chair of the School Promotions Panel.
  • As a general rule, referees should be of a status at least equal to the promotion being sought.
  • The name, address, e-mail and telephone number of each of the potential referees should be provided on the Academic Promotions Referee Nomination (msword; 40kb)  .
  • The Faculty Promotions Panel will determine the referees to be approached in support of the application.
  • All referees should be contacted by the Head of Department in advance to ensure that they would be willing to provide a reference.
5. Faculty Promotions Panel Procedure

5.1 Membership of the Faculty Promotions Panel will reflect a gender balance as far as is reasonably possible, and comprise:

  • Dean (Chair) ex officio
  • One Professor from each Department in the Faculty. Departments without Professors will be represented by a Professor of their choice from another Department of the School.

5.2 The Faculty Administrator will act as Secretary and is responsible for ensuring that no incomplete applications are forwarded to Faculty or School Promotions Panels.

5.3 The role of the Faculty Promotions Panel is to advise the Dean (who will summarise their own views in the Dean’s report) but not to rank applicants, or to refuse to put any forward to the next stage.

5.4 The Faculty Promotions Panel will agree which two referees, one of which will have been nominated by the applicant, should be approached by Human Resources in support of each application for Senior Lecturer in the November panel meeting.

5.5 The Faculty Promotions Panel will agree which five referees, two of which will have been nominated by the applicant, should be approached by Human Resources in support of each application for Reader/Professor in the November panel meeting.

5.6 The Faculty Promotions Panel will operate in accordance with the following main procedures, taking account of the School’s Guidance Notes on Equal Opportunities and the School's commitment to comply with all of the applicable equality and diversity legislation.

5.6.1 Submissions for discretionary increments:
With the implementation of the Framework Agreement, submissions for accelerated, additional increments or one-off non-consolidated payments can be made by self application or by the Head of Department. Please see Appendix 3 of the Framework Agreement ‘SOAS Recognition and Reward Procedure’ for further information.

5.6.2 Submissions for promotion to Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor
The Faculty Promotions Panel will take advice as it considers necessary. It will pass applications from within the Faculty to the School Promotions Panel.

6. School Promotions Panel Procedure

6.1 The School Promotions Panel will operate in accordance with the following main procedures, taking account of the School's Guidance Notes on Equal Opportunities and the School's commitment to comply with all of the applicable equality and diversity legislation. The Panel may, in addition to the information provided through the Faculty Promotions Panel, call for any further information, or take such other advice as it considers necessary at any stage in the process.

6.2 The Panel will consider all applications against criteria for all possible levels of promotion and not only for the one applied for. The panel will take a decision in all cases if it is considered that a prima facie case has been made for promotion to another level. This may mean that some applicants are promoted above the level they applied for, subject to additional satisfactory references being sought where this is necessary for the level of promotion proposed.

6.3 Promotion to Senior Lecturer

6.3.1. The School Promotions Panel will determine promotion to Senior Lecturer.

6.3.2. These results will be reported to Academic Board and Board of Trustees.

6.4 Promotion to Reader or Professor

6.4.1. The School Promotions Panel will determine promotion to Professor or Reader.

6.4.2. Successful applications for promotion to Professor or Reader shall be reported formally to Board of Trutees for endorsement.

6.5 In the case of an appeal against the decision of the promotion panel under paragraph 10, the panel will be asked to provide a response to the specified grounds of appeal.

7. Feedback

7.1 All applicants will be written to concerning the outcome of their application.

7.2 All unsuccessful applicants will initially be offered the opportunity to discuss the outcome with the relevant Dean.

7.3 All unsuccessful applicants for Reader will be offered the opportunity to discuss the outcome further with the relevant Dean and Pro-Director.

7.4 All unsuccessful Professorial applicants will be offered the opportunity to discuss the outcome further with the Chair of the School Promotions Panel and the relevant Dean.

8. Timetable ( Academic Promotions Timeline Flowchart (msword; 52kb) )

8.1. The Director of Human Resources will issue an invitation for applications to Heads of Department and to all eligible academic staff prior to the start of the Autumn term. All submissions must be submitted to the appropriate Faculty Administrator by the date indicated in the Director of Human Resources’ memorandum. The School Promotions Panel will make every reasonable effort to finalise outcomes by the end of May.

8.2. Promotions are implemented with effect from 1 September following the consideration of applications and the outcomes will be published in the School Calendar of that session.

9. Staff Retention

9.1. It is possible, in exceptional circumstances, for applications to be considered outside the promotion cycle as set out above. This would apply to individuals who had not applied for promotion in the current year, but who had been offered an appointment at a university elsewhere at a level that would involve a promotion.

9.2. The option to apply for promotion out of the normal cycle should not be seen as the right of everyone offered a post elsewhere. The decision to allow an application, should the individual wish to make one, would be made by the Chair of the Promotions Panel after discussion with the appropriate Dean and Head of Department (or Dean and a senior academic in the relevant department, in the case of a Head of Department).

9.3. Before such a decision could be made, the candidate would need to provide to the Chair of Promotions Panel with a copy of the offer letter from the relevant institution, confirming details of the appointment.

9.4. The process by which the application would be dealt with would reflect that of the regular promotions process. The candidate, Head of Department and Dean would need to provide information as set out above. The requisite number of referees would need to be selected, and references obtained, by the relevant Promotions Panel.

9.5. While the School would consider the application for promotion as quickly as possible, no guarantee could be made as to how long this process would take.

10. Appeals

10.1. Once the deadline for applications has passed, members of staff should not discuss their application for promotion with individual members of Faculty Promotions Panel or the School Promotions Panel. The decision of all of the promotions panels is final, except where there has been a material breach of these promotions procedures. It should be stressed that appeals may only be initiated on procedural grounds, and that the appeal process may not be used to challenge the academic judgment of the promotions panels.

10.2. Where an applicant believes such breach has occurred, he/she may make a written representation to the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees, outlining exactly why he/she believes a material breach of the promotions procedures has occurred. This appeal must be made within 28 days of the applicant being informed of the decision of the School Promotions Panel.

10.3. The Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees, in consultation with the Clerk to the Board of Trustees, will determine whether there is prima facie evidence of a material breach of the procedures. If prima facie evidence is found, Human Resources will set up Appeal Panel. This panel will be made up of three professors of the School, none of whom will have been a member of the School or Faculty Promotions Panels that originally considered the application. One of these professors will be appointed as Chair of the panel. A member of Human Resources will advise the panel.

10.4. The panel will consider a written submission from the appellant, giving full details of the reason for the appeal, and will call for any other evidence it feels necessary. The panel is not empowered to vary the decision of the promotions panel. However, if the panel finds that there has been a material breach of the procedures, it is within its power to ask the promotions panel to consider the application for promotion again. The oucome of the appeal will be communicated to the appellant in writing.

11. Supporting Documents

Academic Promotions Procedure (pdf; 75kb)  

Academic Job Descriptions (msword; 143kb)  
Academic Promotions Application Form (msword; 39kb)  
Academic Promotions Application Guidance Note (pdf; 78kb)  
Academic Promotions Timeline Flowchart (msword; 52kb)  
Head of Department Evaluation Form (msword; 41kb)  
Academic Promotions Referee Nomination (msword; 40kb)  

HR Directorate
[Last updated September 2016]