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Academic Promotion Procedure

Contents 
Introduction and Scope

1.  This document details School procedures for academic promotions from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer, Reader or Professor, from Senior Lecturer to Reader or Professor and from Reader to Professor.  It does not deal with initial appointments, transfers from Grade G7/Ac2 to G8/Ac3 scale or transfers from fixed-term contracts to appointments to the permanent staff.  The School has always made promotions from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer a matter of internal procedures, but appointments to Reader and Professor involve University of London procedures which have been devolved to Schools but which still require an element of central compliance.

2. Academic promotions are considered by a Faculty Promotions Advisory Panel and School Promotion Panel whose decisions are then put forward to Governing Body for formal endorsement.

The membership of the School Promotions Panel consists of the Director and senior Professors recommended to and approved by Academic Board, and comprises:

  • 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.

The Panel should include at least one member from each gender.

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 Governing Body.

The Director of Human Resources will act as Secretary.

3. The procedures approved by Academic Board incorporate the following principles:

  • A Lecturer may be promoted either to Senior Lecturer or to Reader, but 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

a) via Heads of Department or

b) by direct applications from individual members of staff to the appropriate Dean,

following the approved procedures.

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Criteria

4. Candidates will be expected to have successfully performed the duties outlined in their current job description (Lecturer, Senior Lecturer/Reader) attached at Annex 1.

For purposes of promotion they will be assessed by reference to their scholarly and other contribution to the School as evidenced by:

(a) Research:  Contribution to the advancement of the subject by research and scholarship through the acquisition and synthesis of knowledge and understanding, and resulting in publication.

For the purposes of any promotion the term ‘research’ is understood to mean publications of international quality.

(b) Teaching:  Contribution to the advancement of a particular subject area by teaching, and by educational innovation where appropriate;

(c) Academic leadership:  Contribution to a subject through the development of research projects, award of external grants and research supervision, and / or to the administration of a faculty, department, centre, programme of study or research team which facilitates the academic contribution of colleagues and enhances the reputation of the School.

(d)Knowledge transfer and enterprise activity: contribution to society and the economy through the application of knowledge to the benefit of the broader community (i.e. NGOs, business, government and the general public).

In evaluating cases for promotion, the School will place great weight on peer judgments, as reflected in contribution to research assessment exercises and objective criteria relating to research output.  Since criteria vary from discipline to discipline, there is good reason to rely on discipline-specific norms, expectations and processes.  

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Specific criteria for Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor

5. The specific criteria for Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor are as follows:

Senior Lecturer: A prerequisite for promotion to Senior Lecturer is academic
achievement in both research and teaching.  Academic leadership and overall contribution to the work of a department, faculty and the School, including through enterprise activity, will also be taken into consideration.

Reader:  In considering a Lecturer or Senior Lecturer for the conferment of the title of Reader, regard shall be had to the person’s standing and promise in the relevant subject or profession as established by important contributions to its advancement through publications, creative work or other appropriate forms of scholarship or performance, and through teaching.  Academic leadership and other contributions to the work of the School as above, the University, learned societies and other relevant bodies may also be taken into account.

Professor:  In considering a proposal for the conferment of the title of Professor regard shall be had to the person's international standing in the relevant subject or profession as established by outstanding contributions to its advancement through publications, creative work, or other appropriate forms of scholarship or performance, and through academic leadership, teaching and administration and other contributions to the work of the School as above.

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Candidates

6. Candidates seeking promotion should apply via their Head of Department, who will provide an evaluation of the application.   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. Applications through either route will be given equal consideration.   

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Material to be provided by the Candidate

7. It is the responsibility of each candidate to ensure that all paperwork provided by them is complete and compliant.  Materials not required should NOT be submitted.  Incomplete or non-compliant applications will be disqualified from consideration in that year’s promotions round.  Applications may not be modified after the application deadline.

Before putting forward an application, it is suggested that candidates seek advice from senior colleagues as to the appropriateness of the application.

8. In all cases the candidate should supply to the Head of Department, or Dean, as appropriate, the following information:

(a) Academic Promotions Form (Form APF1/Annex 3)

(b)    Personal Circumstances 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. do not have 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. careers 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 (Form APF1/Annex 3).  

(c) Two 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 review journals will be considered, for example, performances, electronic media, exhibitions.

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.  

(d) The candidate should agree with their Head of Department (or Dean in the case of a direct application) a list of two suitable potential external referees, both of whom should be contacted by the candidate in advance, to ensure that they would be willing to provide a reference if asked to do so.  These refererees 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 Committee.  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 two potential referees should be provided.  

In the case of applications for promotion to Senior Lecturer, the Faculty Promotions Panel will initially contact two referees.  One of these will be taken from the agreed list of names.  The Faculty Promotions Panel will normally nominate a second referee who is not  on the candidate’s list.  The name of the referee who does not appear on the candidate’s list should be agreed with the Head of Department (or Dean in the case of a direct application). 

In the case of applications for promotion to Reader or Professor, the Faculty Promotions Panel will initially contact three referees. The name of the referee who does not appear on the candidate’s list should be agreed with the Head of Department (or Dean in the case of a direct application).  

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Material to be provided by the Head of Department

9. The Head of Department should supply an evaluation of the application on the attached form having regard to the applicable criteria and the additional guidance notes set out in Annex 4.  This should be submitted along with the items provided by the candidate.

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 he/she has sufficient evidence to complete the form at Annex 4, and to submit this along with the items provided by the candidate.

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Faculty Promotions Panel Procedure

10.  Membership of the Faculty Promotions Panel will 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.

The Panel should include at least one member from each gender.

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

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

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.

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(a) 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  Reward and Recognition Procedure’ for further information.  

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(b) Submissions for promotion to Senior Lecturer.

The Faculty Promotions Panel will take up references and may take such other advice as it considers necessary.  It will pass applications from within the Faculty to the School Promotions Panel.

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(c) Submissions for promotion to Reader or to Professor.

The Faculty Promotions Panel will take up references and may take such other advice as it considers necessary.  Having taken into account all aspects of each candidate’s career to date, the Faculty Promotions Panel will pass applications from within the Faculty to the School Promotions Panel.

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School Promotions Panel Procedure

11. 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.

At is first meeting the Panel will consider all applications against criteria for all possible promotions and not only for the one applied for, and will take a decision in all cases whether or not to go to a next stage if it is considered that a prima facie case has been made for promotion to another level, even if this is not the promotion applied for.

At subsequent meetings the Panel will decide on those reaching the final stage, on the basis of further information.  This may mean that some applicants are promoted above the level they applied for, and may also mean that the Panel may decide to decline promotion for some applying for Readership or Chair without having gone through the final stage of these processes.

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(a) Promotion to Senior Lecturer.  


The School Promotions Panel will determine promotion to Senior Lecturer.  These results will be reported to Academic Board and Governing Body.

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(b) Promotion to Reader or Professor.


The School Promotions Panel will determine which two additional external references will be sought.  One of these referees will be asked to read the three pieces of work submitted by the candidate.

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

Successful applications for promotion to Professor or Reader shall be reported formally to Governing Body for endorsement.

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Feedback

12. All applicants will be written to concerning the outcome of their application for promotion.  All unsuccessful Professorial applicants will be offered the opportunity to discuss the outcome further with the Chair of the School Promotion Panel and the relevant Dean. All unsuccessful applicants for Reader will be offered the opportunity to discuss the outcome further with the relevant Dean and Pro-Director

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Timetable

13. The School Promotions Panel will make every reasonable effort to complete all cases by the end of May.  The Director of Human Resources will issue a notice to Heads of Department and to all eligible academic staff early in the Autumn Term and all submissions must be forwarded to the appropriate Faculty Administrator by the date indicated in the Director of Human Resources’ memorandum.  

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

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Staff Retention

14.  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.

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 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).

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

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.

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.

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Appeals

15. 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.

16. Where an applicant believes such breach has occurred, he/she may make a written representation to the Vice-Chair of Governing Body, 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.

17. The Vice-Chair of Governing Body, in consultation with the Clerk to the Governing Body, will determine whether there is prima facie evidence of a material breach of the procedures.  If prima facie evidence is found, an Appeal Panel will be set up.  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.

18. The panel will consider a written submission from the applicant, 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.

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