2 New Job Vacancies: Lecturer at Sociology and Policy Group

Please note, this post is advertised in conjunction with R160096 (Senior Lecturer – Sociology and Policy Group).  If you would like to be considered for the Lecturer and Senior Lecturer post, then you will need to submit two applications (Lecturer – Reference number R160095; Senior Lecturer – Reference number R160096). 

The School of Languages and Social Sciences is an ambitious, expanding, multidisciplinary School with an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research. We are seeking up to two enthusiastic and successful scholars with a strong commitment to teaching and learning and an appropriate research profile to join our Sociology and Policy Group. Up to one appointment will be at Senior Lecturer level. It is anticipated that one of these posts will be in social and/or public policy.

You will have a research profile that fits within the broad themes of Inequality, Diversity and Social Justice, and/or Critical Policy Analysis. Ability and/or willingness to teach in the area of the sociology of crime and deviancy/criminology may be an advantage. Applications from candidates able to contribute further to our expertise in quantitative skills would also be welcome.

You will have started to establish a record of high quality scholarly publications or have the potential to do so and you will have, or expect to obtain in the near future, a relevant PhD.

Further informal guidance for potential applicants can be found below:

Working in Sociology and Policy at Aston

We are excited to be recruiting two new full-­‐time permanent academic posts in Sociology and Policy at Aston University. One appointment will be in social or public policy. One appointment may be made at Senior Lecturer level. This blog is intended to provide informal information and advice to prospective applicants regarding what we do, who we are and the sorts of things we hope our new colleagues will be able to add to our department.

First, a bit about the staff group in Sociology and Policy. We are a medium-­‐sized sociology and policy group, and we have expanded rapidly in the past 5 years. We currently consist of 15 academic members of staff, 14 of who are permanent and one who is providing maternity cover. One of our members of academic staff is also currently on parliamentary leave of absence after she was elected as an MEP. Of this staff group of 15, 9 are females and 6 are males. Of the promoted staff – senior lecturer and above – 3 are females and 4 are males. Both professors are male. Twelve of us can be described as white European and we would welcome greater ethnic diversity in our group. We would also be very positive about employing an applicant with a disability and Aston is a “two ticks” employer, so disabled applicants meeting the essential criteria will be shortlisted.

Most of us are also relatively new to Aston University; in fact, only two of us have been at Aston for longer than 4 years. So, while sociology and policy has a long and distinguished presence at Aston University, for some of us it sometimes feels that we are creating something new and exciting. A number of us live either in Birmingham or within easy commuting distance of Aston. Some staff do live further away but tend to find overnight accommodation close to the University for two or three nights a week to ease the strain of commuting long distances. A number of staff have young families or other caring responsibilities.

Second, a bit about our students. Our student body has grown rapidly over the past 6 years and we now have a sizeable body of undergraduate students. These students are very diverse ethnically and socially, with female students in the majority. We are proud of this diversity and we are strong supporters of the University’s widening participation activities and of an inclusive higher education more generally. A large proportion of our students come from the West Midlands, with many others coming from other large cities around the United Kingdom. They are overwhelmingly state educated. We have a small number of non-­‐ UK students, including students from outside of the EU. We have a much smaller number of students on our two taught postgraduate programmes and we feel we could do much better here. We also have a small number of research students and we feel we could do better here as well.

Our students are very positive about our programmes and the teaching we provide. We tend to do very well in the National Student Survey in Sociology, but less well in Social Policy. This difference perplexes us but student evaluations of our policy programmes seem to be moving in the right direction. Student assessment of individual modules also tends to be very positive and our teaching seems to be valued highly. Although our classes can be large, we still manage to maintain good everyday relations with our students. We would nevertheless like more student involvement in what we do outside of teaching and we have recently begun a series of regular lunchtime ‘conversations’ focused on pressing contemporary issues.

Third, a bit about working here. All academic members of staff are active researchers. We research in a variety of fields and our research interests are diverse – take a look at the staff profiles. As a staff group we share a commitment to research that is concerned with matters of (in)equality and social justice, and we have a strong and critical interest in policy, defined in quite broad terms. All of us are interested in the policy or ‘applied’ dimensions to research, and we share an active and growing interest in social research methods and social theory. We are therefore open to applications from candidates working in any field/area so long as its contribution to the above is clear. We are also all committed to developing the Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture. The Centre provides a focus for our research and allows gives us access to resources to support this, such as those needed for preparing bids for external research funding, or for organising workshops and seminars. We also enjoy the School’s generous study leave entitlement.

We are also committed teachers and routinely seek to improve our practice. We regularly observe each other’s teaching, many of us hold higher education teaching qualifications or are working towards one, and we are beginning to organise staff teaching workshops to help us reflect upon what we do and to disseminate good practice. Several colleagues have won teaching prizes, as did the group as a whole when it won an excellence award from the BSA and Higher Education Academy in 2013. We have taken our students on study trips in the past and would like to do so again in the future. Our aim is to ensure that all staff can teach at least one module in their specialist areas and we have an open and pluralistic orientation to how we teach and assess our students. There is no ‘typical’ teaching load, but the allocation of work is very carefully monitored to ensure transparency and fairness over time. It is usually the case that a full workload involves one teaching period (semester) with a heavier teaching load than the other. A full workload also involves taking on administrative responsibilities which are allocated on a rotating basis and according to stage of career. We try to ensure that Early Career Staff have a graduated pathway to a full workload. Our teaching can be to large or small groups, and can involve lectures, seminars or workshops. We also schedule 4 office hours each week for student consultations, plus time for dissertation supervision and meetings with personal tutees. Every staff member is entitled to a research day each week during term time and free of teaching and other commitments.

If you are interested in applying for our posts, here are some things to consider:

  •  The key documents in shortlisting will be your answers to the questions on the online application form, which will be scored according to how well you meet the criteria, as well as your CV. Make sure you look carefully at the person specification before applying;
  •  We anticipate receiving a large number of applications for these posts. This is one of the reasons why candidates must have a completed PhD or will have submitted their thesis for examination. It is also the reason why we ask for a record of academic publications to a high standard. These expectations clearly depend upon stage of academic career and any career breaks;
  •  Remember, we consider our teaching to be very important, so it is worth thinking carefully about how you would ensure Aston students have a challenging and positive learning experience;
  •  When thinking about external income generation, by all means include your plans for research grants (we particularly like collaborative projects with other academic staff outside of Aston) but don’t exclude any other income streams that you might be interested in;
  •  We will involve the whole academic staff group in the recruitment process. If you are short-­‐listed, this will involve circulating examples of your published research and staff will be able to view your CV. We will try to complete the appointments in one (long) day and so we appreciate your patience if you are asked to wait around. On the appointment day, you can expect to be asked to undertake a short presentation in the morning, where you will meet the staff group and field their questions. We will also organise a sandwich lunch where candidates can chat to staff from the department and wider School on an informal basis. The formal interviews will take place in the afternoon and it is expected that the interview panel will consist of myself, Prof Simon Green (LSS Executive Dean), Prof Jonathan Tritter, Dr Karen West and Prof Gertrud Reershemius (LSS Associate Dean for Research);
  •  In both the morning presentations and afternoon interview, you will want to show how you can communicate your research and teaching in a clear and succinct way, how you would engage students and colleagues, and how you would see yourself fitting in with, and adding further to, our department. Normally the first question will be about why you want to work at Aston and so it would be worth giving serious thought to this in advance. You are also highly likely to be asked about your research and teaching.

If you have any questions then please feel free to contact me using the address: P.Mizen@Aston.ac.uk.  I’m also happy to chat with you further over the telephone or Skype.

Professor Phil Mizen, on behalf of the Aston Sociology and Policy Group (March 2016).

Further details:    Job Details


Languages & Social Sciences

Salary: £33,574 to £46,414 per annum
Grade: Grade 08
Basis: Full Time
Closing Date: Monday 18 April 2016
Interview Date: See advert
Reference: R160095