SOAS University of London

Human Resources

Academic Promotion Procedure

Top
  1. General Information
  2. Criteria
  3. Promotion routes
  4. Referees
  5. Material to be provided by the Candidate
  6. Material to be provided by the Head of Department   
  7. Individual circumstances
  8. School Promotions Panel Procedure
  9. Feedback
  10. Timetable
  11. Staff Retention
  12. Appeals  
  13. 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 (exceptionally) to Professor
1.1.3. Senior Lecturer to Reader or Professor 
1.1.4. Reader to Professor. 

1.2. Candidates seeking promotion should apply via their Head of Department, who will provide an evaluation of the application. 

1.2.1. Where a member of staff does not feel it appropriate to make an application via their Head of Department, they may in exceptional circumstances make a direct application via the relevant Pro-Director. 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 a School Promotions Panel. Decisions are reported to Executive Board. 

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
  • Eight Professors who should not be Heads of Department or senior office holders.

1.5.1. A Professor from the University of London will 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.

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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 by three performance criteria:

  • Teaching & learning
  • Research & enterprise
  • Administration, management & outreach

2.2.1    Senior Lecturer

Promotion to Senior Lecturer will be on the basis of excellence in at least two of the above three performance criteria, as well as satisfactory performance in the third.

2.2.2    Reader

Promotion to Reader will be on the basis of standing and promise in the relevant subject or profession as established by excellence in at least two of the above three performance criteria, as well as satisfactory performance in the third.

2.2.3   Professor

Promotion to Professor will be on the basis of international standing in the relevant subject or profession as established by outstanding contributions to at least two of the above three performance criteria, as well as excellent performance in the third.

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

In addition, the panel may pay attention to the impact – academic or non-academic – achieved as a result of the candidate’s research or teaching.

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3. Promotion routes

3.1       All candidates will be asked to designate whether they are applying for promotion under a ‘research’ or ‘teaching’ route. 

3.2       Where candidates indicate that they are applying under the ‘research’ route, referees will be asked to pay particular attention to the excellence of the candidate’s published work. 

3.3       Where candidates indicate that they are applying under the ‘teaching’ route, referees will be asked to pay particular attention to the excellence of their teaching portfolio, and their contribution to advances in pedagogy.

4. Referees

The applicant and Head of Department are required to nominate referees as per the table below. 

An initial meeting of the Promotions Panel in the autumn term will decide whether there is a prima facie case for promotion, and if there is, 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 and
  • 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. 

The Panel will also nominate an internal reader (two for Professor) of the published work / reflective teaching portfolio.

External referees:
Senior Lecturer Reader Professor
Applicant nominated referees 2 4 4
Head of Department nominated referees 2 4 referees; to include 1 reader referee 4 referees; to include 1 reader referee
Total number of referees to be provided to the Chair of the Promotion Panel 4 8 8
Total number of referees to be contacted (as agreed by the Chair of the Promotion Panel) 2 (including 1 nominated by the applicant) 5 (including 2 nominated by the applicant)

One of the five must be the reader.

5 (including 2 nominated by the applicant)

One of the five must be the reader.

Internal referees:
Senior Lecturer Reader Professor
Referees to be agreed by the Chair of the Promotion Panel 1 1 2

 

  • 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.
  • Referees for promotions to Senior Lecturer should be at least at the status of Reader; referees for promotions to Reader or Professor should be of full Professorial status.
  • The Chair of the School Promotions Panel or designate will determine the referees to be approached in support of the application, in discussion with the relevant Head of Department or Pro-Director
  • All candidate-nominated referees should be contacted by the candidate in advance to ensure that they would be willing to provide a reference.
  • All Head of Department-nominated referees should be contacted by the Head of Department in advance to ensure that they would be willing to provide a reference.

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5. Material to be provided by the Candidate

5.1 Before putting forward an application, it is strongly recommended that candidates seek advice from their Head of Department and/or a Pro-Director as to the appropriateness of the application.

5.2 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.

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

5.4 The candidate should provide the following documentation:

  • Completed Academic Promotions Application Form (see section 13)
  • Personal Circumstances statement (see section 7 below)
  • Electronic copies of three examples of published work which the candidate considers to be representative of their best work to date. Research outputs other than monographs and articles in peer-reviewed journals will be considered, including performances, electronic media, exhibitions. Copies of work should be provided electronically; where electronic copies are unavailable, two hard copies of each example should be provided. The Promotions Panel will also be looking for evidence of continuing research activity. For this reason, 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 reflective teaching portfolio, including evidence against each category listed in the Academic Performance Framework under teaching and learning, and evidenced by reviews by colleagues, former students or external actors as appropriate. This portfolio should be provided electronically, should contain evidence of the sphere of impact in teaching and learning, including the impact of activity related to professional learning, student engagement and curriculum innovation suitable to the level of promotion applied for.  Candidates should give an indication of the likely future direction of their teaching and pedagogy. 
  • A full Publications List, with complete bibliographic information for each publication.
  • Details of suitable external referees (please refer to section 4), which have been agreed with the Head of Department (or Pro-Director in the case of a direct application).
    • The name, address, e-mail and telephone number of the proposed referees should be provided on the Academic Promotions Referee Nomination.
    • All referees should be contacted by the candidate in advance to ensure that they would be willing to provide a reference. 

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6. Material to be provided by the Head of Department

6.1 The Head of Department or Pro-Director should provide the following documentation:

  • Head of Department Evaluation Form. 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 a Pro-Director, it will be the responsibility of the Pro-Director 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.
    • The name, address, e-mail and telephone number of each of the potential referees should be provided on the Academic Promotions Referee Nomination.
    • All referees should be contacted by the Head of Department or Pro-Director in advance to ensure that they would be willing to provide a reference.

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7. Individual circumstances

7.1 The School recognises that some individuals may have serious circumstances that have affected/continue to affect their performance, whether by reduction in the volume or range of activities that they were/are able to undertake, or in other ways. 

7.2 Circumstances that may be taken into account include:

  1. Absences on maternity, paternity or adoption leave
  2. Periods of part time or other flexible working
  3. Breaks in employment due to non-consecutive fixed-term contracts
  4. Disability, injury or ill health (permanent or temporary lasting more than six months)
  5. Absence from the workforce whilst acting as a carer or undertaking domestic responsibilities
  6. Absence due to ill-health or injury
  7. Career breaks unconnected with academic responsibilities
  8. Time spent working in own professional discipline outside academia
  9. Substantive absences that the School is legally obliged to permit (including involvement as a representative of the workforce or for religious observance)
  10. Agreed special leave of absence on secondment to other organisations
  11. Other personal circumstances having comparable impact on an individual’s achievements to those listed above.

7.3 Individuals who feel that such information needs to be taken into account in accessing their performance should declare it on the Special Circumstances Form and submit this to Human Resources at the time they make their application.   Any information declared will remain confidential and will only be seen by the Individual Circumstances Panel.

7.4 Individuals are not obliged to declare any circumstances on the form if they do not wish to.  However, if not declared, such matters cannot be introduced in any subsequent appeal against the decision of the Promotions Panel

7.5 Those who feel there have been no special circumstances affecting their performance should simply ignore this form. 

7.6 Further advice and guidance on declaring individual circumstances is available from Human Resources.

7.7 An Individual Circumstances Panel, chaired by a Pro-Director and including a representative from Human Resources and a senior member of the academic staff, who may be an emeritus professor, will meet in the Autumn term to consider the individual special circumstances. 

7.8 The Individual Circumstances Panel will consider how much time has effectively been lost from normal work activities as a result of the circumstances involved.  An assessment of this time will be provided to the Promotions Panel by Human Resources.  No details of the circumstances involved will be released.

7.9 The time assessment may be given as time lost in months in any one or more of the three areas that form part of the Academic Performance Framework or as an estimate of a percentage of time lost in one or more of the three areas assessed.  The period of time over which the loss occurred must also be provided for the Promotions Panel.  No loss of fewer than 6 months in total will normally be reported to the Promotions Panel.

7.10 Time lost would usually be as a result of total reported absence from work for a period of time.  Percentage time lost would usually be the result of a loss of effectiveness or intermittent absence due to the circumstances involved.

7.11 The Promotions Panel will take the period of time since the individual’s appointment or last promotion (whichever is later) into consideration when deciding on the effect the lost time has had in relation to performance. In particular, Promotions Panel will see if candidates should be compensated for loss of quantity of work. The quality expected for promotion would still need to be present.

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8. School Promotions Panel Procedure

8.1 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 by the applicant and Head of Department or Pro-Director call for any further information, or take such other advice as it considers necessary at any stage in the process.

8.2 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.

8.3 The School Promotions Panel will report all promotions to Academic Board and Board of Trustees.

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9. Feedback

9.1 All applicants will receive written confirmation of the outcome of their application.

9.2 All unsuccessful applicants will initially be offered the opportunity to discuss the outcome with the relevant Pro-Director.

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

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10. Timetable

10.1 The Human Resources Directorate will issue an invitation for applications to Heads of Department and to all eligible academic staff prior to the start of the Autumn term.

10.2 All submissions must be submitted electronically to the Head of Department (or Pro-Director) by the date confirmed annually by Human Resources, usually mid-October.  

10.3 The Head of Department should forward the application, together with the additional material outlined in section 4, to Human Resources via rewards@soas.ac.uk by a date specified by Human Resources, usually the end of October.

10.4 The School Promotions Panel will make every reasonable effort to finalise outcomes by the end of May.

10.5 Promotions are implemented with effect from 1 September following the consideration of applications.

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11. Staff Retention

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

11.2. 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 Pro-Director and Head of Department (or Pro-Director and a senior academic in the relevant department, in the case of a Head of Department).

11.3. 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.

11.4. The process by which the application would be dealt with would reflect that of the regular promotions process. The candidate, Head of Department and Pro-Director 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.

11.5. 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.

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12. Appeals

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

12.2. Where an applicant believes such breach has occurred, they may make a written representation to the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees, outlining exactly why they believe a material breach of the promotions procedures has occurred. This appeal must be made within 40 days of the applicant being informed of the decision of the School Promotions Panel.

12.3. 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 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.

12.4. 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 outcome of the appeal will be communicated to the appellant in writing.

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13. Supporting Documents

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HR Directorate
[Last updated June 2017]