Frequently Asked Questions

This page includes frequently asked questions around Academic Career Pathways, in particular how the pathway, framework and expectations have been developed since 2017.

If you have any further questions please email

When did development of the pathways begin?

In April 2017 we announced a review of our career pathways for academic staff across the University. During 2017 we held a series of focus groups and consultation events with a wide range of academic and professional colleagues which have helped shape our new Academic Career Pathway framework.

What did we want to achieve?

From the outset we sought to create a pathway that built upon our shared understanding of what it means to be an academic in an ambitious, research intensive institution like the University of Sheffield. We deliberately did not seek to re-define the role of an academic, but instead built upon what already works, recognising the way in which academic roles have evolved in recent years, perhaps best exemplified by the increased importance of academic leadership.

Based on this feedback our aim was to create a new career pathway framework that built upon our existing understanding of the role and career progression of an academic but that provided greater clarity and transparency as well as recognising and rewarding all the elements of an academic role.

What were the outcomes of the focus groups?

The focus groups told us that:

• We needed to better define ‘excellence’ and that more clarity of expectation was required.
• Progression and reward for academics needed to be more transparent.
• Excellence in Teaching and Leadership needed to be recognised.
• All academics should make a contribution to leadership.
• Collegiality is valued by all, but not recognised or rewarded.

How do we define Teaching and Research, Research Specialist and Teaching Specialist?

If as part of your role you are routinely required to undertake research and teaching, then you are employed on a teaching and research contract.

If your role is solely focussed on research and there is no requirement to undertake teaching, then you are employed on a research specialist contract.

If your role is solely focussed on teaching and scholarship and there is no requirement to undertake research that leads to publications, grant capture and impact, then you are employed on a teaching specialist contract.

Why is the Reader career stage not included in the Academic Career Pathways?

One key element of the new Academic Career Pathway Framework is that Readerships will no longer form a career stage at the University, with the career progression route being directly from Senior Lecturer to Professor.

The Academic Career Pathways project was launched in 2017 with a open invite for colleagues to attend one of a series of focus groups designed to gather opinions and insights into the current promotions process. One of the key themes that emerged from these sessions was that there is a current inequality of value between teaching and research activities and inequality of esteem between teaching and research roles. In developing the framework the project steering group therefore sought to ensure that the expectations of teaching, research and leadership were clearly stated and the same at each career stage, regardless of the academic contract type. Given this approach, as the role of Reader is not universally available to all academic colleagues, this has not been included as a career stage in the Academic Career Pathway framework and no future Readers will be appointed.

What will change for current Readers?

There will be no detrimental impact for staff currently employed as a Reader; their duties will remain unchanged and they will retain their titles for as long as they are in the role. We are committed to supporting existing Readers to explore how they can progress within their career should they wish, and Readers who meet the criteria for Professor can be considered for promotion.

If you are a current Reader and would like to discuss your career progression in more detail, please contact your Faculty HR Team to arrange an individual career discussion.

I am an honourary member of staff. How does the Academic Career Pathways framework apply to me?

The Pathway aims to define expectations for teaching research and leadership activities for academics employed by the University of Sheffield. As such, it provides a useful tool for career development discussions. If you wish to discuss your career development please contact your Faculty HR Team.

I am a non-permanent member of staff. How does the Academic Career Pathways framework apply to me?

The pathway defines expectations for academics engaged on teaching and research, research intensive or teaching intensive contracts from grade 8 through to the professorial bands. As such, it can help to structure annual SRDS discussions and any career development discussions as part of your ongoing management arrangements.

I am a Clinical member of staff. How does the Academic Career Pathways framework apply to me?

The Academic Career Pathway framework applies to the academic element of clinical contracts, in terms of the criteria and evidence of achievement at each grade from Lecturer/Fellow to Professorial. However the pathway remains within the context and specifics of Clinical Academic contracts and as such, does not alter the existing contracts for Clinical progression.

Will the pay scales change as a result of the Academic Career Pathways framework?

The Academic Career Pathways framework aims to clarify the expectations for academic staff at each pay band, and does not alter the structure of the current pay grades. The existing pay bands therefore map across to the new expectations at each grade. See here for the existing pay scales.

Where can I find out more?

If you have any further queries please email