UCL Department of Economics


Role Description

Director and Head of Department

  • Department: UCL Urban Laboratory
  • Experience: Between 3 to 5 years preferred
  • Location: UCL Bloomsbury & UCL East Campuses
  • How to apply: Full academic CV and statement of interest to be sent to Tracey Cresswell 
  • Deadline: Friday 6 November 2023

Reports to

Dean of The Bartlett, UCL Faculty of the Built Environment

In addition, in accordance with UCL Regulations for Management 11, the Head of Department is responsible to the Council of UCL, via the Dean of The Bartlett Faculty, for the organisation and general conduct of UCL Urban Laboratory.

Responsible for

All staff and students within the department.

Key working relationships

Staff and students within UCL Urban Laboratory; Urban Laboratory cross-faculty Co-Directors' team and Steering Committee; The Bartlett Faculty Dean, Faculty Director of Operations; Departmental Manager; Faculty Tutor; Vice-Deans of Faculty; School-facing Business Partners and Service Managers within Professional Services (Finance, Human Resources, Information Services Division, Marketing and Communications, Research, Registry); peers across the Departments of the Faculty and UCL; external funding agencies and industrial and institutional partners.


The Bartlett, UCL’s Faculty of the Built Environment, is the UK’s largest and leading multidisciplinary faculty of the built environment, covering architecture, construction and project management, planning and environmental design as well as other specialist fields.

UCL Urban Laboratory (UL) is a dynamic, cross-disciplinary department within the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, which actively promotes research, teaching and public participation across a broadly defined field of engaged urbanism. Established in 2005, we investigate, propose, and disseminate critical approaches to a wide range of socio-cultural, material and technological urban and built environment issues, with a focus on the grand challenges of our time. We draw on a wide range of urban expertise and research methodologies, based on exchange and collaboration between researchers from across the institution, including the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, and UCL's faculties of Social and Historical Sciences, Engineering, and Arts and Humanities. We actively promote participatory approaches to urban research, working in partnership with numerous non-academic and community-based organisations. Urban Laboratory delivers the MASc Global Urbanism programme, a transdisciplinary degree that cuts radically across built environment, arts and humanities, social sciences and technology studies, and co-manages the UCL Urban Room on behalf of the Bartlett at UCL East, with our colleagues in the School for Creative and Cultural Industries. Find out more about us.

Urban Laboratory’s focus is to continue developing its profile as a centre for urban research excellence nationally and internationally, and to enhance its critical contribution to public and policy discourse in the urban realm and its measurable impact on positive urban change. In the next five years we will consolidate and grow our teaching and research presence at UCL East, extend our international partnerships and networks, and continue to deliver the creative and inclusive public programme for which we are known, in partnership with our collaborators. This is an exciting opportunity to play a strategic role in shaping the next phase of Urban Laboratory’s work, to support the varied forms of urban scholarship and practice at UCL, and ensure the university maintains and increases its profile for critical and creative urbanism.

Main purpose of the role:

The Director and Head of Department of UCL Urban Laboratory is a 0.4FTE appointment for a full-time member of UCL staff, with potential for secondment from another department or faculty. In line with UCL Regulations on Management 11, the Head of Department is responsible to the Council of UCL, via the President and Provost, for the organisation and general conduct of the department.

The successful applicant will have a strong track record of publication, research and teaching in the urban field, broadly defined, and demonstrate a commitment to developing Urban Laboratory’s reputation and profile as a dynamic, public-facing, transdisciplinary urban research centre, with a base at UCL East and UCL Urban Room. Some management experience is also desirable.

To provide strategic leadership and management of UCL Urban Laboratory, including co-ordination of its cross-faculty network, and contribute to the delivery of strategic objectives of the UCL Urban Laboratory, Faculty and UCL.

To determine and implement the UCL Urban Laboratory strategic operating plan.

As a member of the Dean’s Faculty Leadership Team, proactively contribute to and lead on Faculty and UCL initiatives.

To be responsible for the implementation and general overview of processes within UCL Urban Laboratory to ensure the educational progress and welfare of registered students.

To champion equality, diversity and inclusion policies and practices within the Department and wider faculty.

Duties and responsibilities

Strategic Development and Planning:

  • Advise and lead on academic matters (strategic developments, research initiatives and research funding bids, Research Excellence Framework (REF) submissions etc.
  • Lead on the annual budgeting cycle and prepare budgetary submissions in consultation with the Centre Manager and other senior colleagues and key faculty and finance personnel.
  • Proactively develop strategic alliances with other relevant organisations.
  • Develop and maintain effective working relationships with key senior internal and external partners
  • Work in partnership with the Dean and other senior colleagues with the highest level of knowledge and understanding of the department’s business.

Leadership and Staff Management:

  • Participate in the strategic management of The Bartlett Faculty as a member of the Faculty Leadership Team.
  • Be responsible for the effective management and performance of staff within the UCL Urban Laboratory, in accordance with UCL’s behaviours framework (www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/osd/core-behaviours/behaviours.php) and UCL Ways of working (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/human-resources/policies-advice/ways-working).
  • Ensure the completion of appraisals for all staff within the Department and undertake the annual appraisals of direct line reports, in accordance with UCL’s performance management framework.
  • Review and report annually on probationers’ progress and performance in respect of academic staff, and review the probationary service of non-academic staff, in accordance with UCL induction and probation procedures.
  • Proactively identify academic talent, both internally and externally, in pursuit of the academic vision of the UCL Urban Laboratory and ensure the retention of high performing staff.
  • Advise the Faculty Dean on Senior Academic Promotions.
  • Participate in appointments to all academic positions within the UCL Urban Laboratory.
  • Participate in the strategic management of UCL as a member of the Provost’s Leadership Forum, attending termly meetings.
  • Ensure that the committee structure and governance of the UCL Urban Laboratory is aligned with that of The Bartlett Faculty and UCL.
  • Work closely with the Centre Manager, Faculty Director of Operations and Faculty Operations Manager to develop, agree and maintain an appropriate professional and technical staffing structure within the UCL Urban Laboratory.
  • Work with academic and non-academic managers to ensure that all staff within the department are well managed and motivated and have opportunities for development.
  • Ensure that staff and students are appropriately advised in order to ensure compliance with UCL policies and procedures affecting them.

Equality and Diversity:

  • Work closely with the Faculty Dean and Vice-Dean Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) to champion and facilitate both an operational and cultural shift in the School and Faculty which prioritises addressing the challenges that the School faces in regard to EDI, including diversifying the student cohort, curriculum and teaching team.
  • Be accountable for meeting the UCL Urban Laboratory equality and diversity objectives and providing visible leadership on the delivery of an effective annual diversity action plan.

Finance / Resource Management:

  • Work with the Faculty Dean to take responsibility for the overall planning and implementation of the Department’s budget and the achievement of agreed budgetary targets.
  • Work with the Centre Manager and School Finance Team to set budgets, monitor in-year expenditure and communicate positions within the UCL Urban Laboratory to ensure that annual financial performance targets are met.
  • In consultation with the Faculty Dean, and in accordance with the Faculty’s Estates Plan, lead on the development of business cases in conjunction with the Faculty Director of Operations, Faculty Operations Manager and Senior Space and Feasibility Manager (BEAMS).
  • Manage the Department’s estate footprint in conjunction with the Centre Manager.


  • Establish appropriate channels of communication within the Department, promoting a common sense of purpose and collegiality.


  • Ensure that UCL Urban Laboratory continues to deliver a suite of academically excellent, viable and competitive degree programmes at all levels.
  • Ensure that UCL Urban Laboratory provides an appropriate learning environment to fully optimise the student experience.
  • Ensure appropriate levels of support in accordance with UCL policies for the academic progression and welfare of students registered within the Bartlett Urban Laboratory.

Research, Enterprise and Knowledge Exchange:

  • Champion research in the Department, fostering cross disciplinary research across the Department, Faculty and UCL.
  • In liaison with the Vice-Dean Research, ensure that UCL Urban Laboratory’ academic vision is in line with UCL’s research strategy. Take the lead on research governance and the associated procedures.
  • In liaison with the Vice-Dean Enterprise, ensure provision of and support of CPD and Enterprise activities.

Safety and Environmental Sustainability:

  • Demonstrate commitment to UCL’s published Health and Safety and Environmental Sustainability Policies by making, recording and ensuring the implementation of arrangements to meet the policies and UCL requirements.
  • Ensure that the Departmental arrangements will be implemented to meet UCL requirements for Safety and Environmental Sustainability.
  • Maintain an awareness and observation of Fire and Health and Safety Regulations.

Other Duties:

  • Promote good working practice throughout UCL Urban Laboratory and champion UCL management competences.
  • UCL Committee serving as required. Contribute to Faculty meetings, committees and working parties.
  • Engage with the Office for the Vice-President (Advancement) to identify and pursue fundraising opportunities.
  • Act as an ambassador for the Department and Faculty, both within the institution and with funders and other external stakeholders, seeking opportunities to enhance the business of the Department and the Faculty.
  • Be responsible for the maintenance of the business continuity of UCL Urban Laboratory and for working with UCL’s major incident team in the event of a major incident or emergency at UCL. This will require being contactable, if necessary, outside working hours.
  • Any other duties commensurate with the grade, spirit and purpose of the role as requested by the Faculty Dean.

This role description reflects the present requirements of the role, and as duties and responsibilities change/develop, the role description will be reviewed and be subject to amendment in consultation with the role holder. The role holder will actively promote UCL equalities and diversity policies and be expected to give consideration within their role as to how they can actively advance equality of opportunity and good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it.