UCL Human Resources


Academic Promotions Guidance

Guidance applicable to all academic promotions



1. This document defines the promotion procedures for staff on academic, research and teaching contracts at UCL. The criteria and procedures apply to clinical and non-clinical roles. There are no qualifying time restrictions on applying or reapplying for promotion or any designated period from which evidence can be bought forward. Candidates should, however, give careful consideration to addressing any feedback received if reapplying for promotion following a previous unsuccessful attempt.

2. Cases for promotion will be assessed against the criteria set out in the Academic Careers Framework. The Academic Careers Framework is a single document to be used by all academic, research and teaching staff.

3. Staff should build their own case for promotion based on their personal achievements and impact and should use the criteria set out in the framework as a guide. No member of staff will be expected to meet all the criteria in any area of activity. The criteria are representative examples and are not meant to cover every activity across UCL. They are representative criteria, aimed at setting levels of expectation but they could never be totally comprehensive across such a large and complex organisation. Panels will also use the framework as a guide. Candidates should familiarise themselves with the framework and ensure that they select activities in their own promotions case that reflect their own experience, providing indicators of success and personal impact relevant to their own discipline, department and career. Research active staff are expected to keep their IRIS profile up to date and to refer to the impact and achievements section of their profile when completing their application for promotion. Research active staff should also confirm that their publications are openly accessible as part of their promotion application.

4. The framework seeks to recognise the plurality of academic careers and allows for staff to build a case based on a range of areas of academic and university life. It also allows staff with specialist careers to build a strong case for promotion.

5. As applicable this guidance should be read in conjunction with the procedures contained at the bottom of this page and linked below:

  • Process for Senior Academic Promotion (to Grades 9 and 10)
  • Process for promotion to grades 7 or 8

Further guidance on Building a Case for Promotion is contained here and case studies will be added in due course.

6. The standard academic promotion routes, based on the specific contract of employment held by members of academic staff at UCL, are outlined below. Staff who joined IOE prior to the merger with UCL, who remain on IOE terms, can apply across the various routes. Upon promotion UCL terms apply.

Standard academic promotion route. Research Assistant Grade 6, Research Fellow Grade 7, Senior Research Fellow Grade 8, Principle Research Fellow Grade 9, Professorial Research Fellow Grade 10
Standard academic promotion route. Associate Lecturers (Teaching) Grade 7, Lecturer (Teaching) Grade 8, Associate Professor (Teaching) Grade 9, Professor (Teaching) Grade 10
Standard academic promotion route. Lecturer Grade 8, Associate Professor Grade 9, Professor Grade 10 – bands 1-4

7. Staff should apply for promotion through the route applicable to their own current contract of employment (academic, research or teaching). This is important for workforce planning. An exception to this are research staff with proleptic appointments who are expected to transfer to academic positions at the end of their fellowship (see para 23).

8. In addition, as an important part of the commitment in the Teaching Concordat, it has been agreed that on occasion it may be appropriate to consider whether teaching roles remain the most appropriate career path for staff engaged in those positions. This may occur where, due to departmental or Faculty need, an individual has started to undertake more research and may meet the criteria in the academic careers framework. If this occurs the employee and their Head of Department should discuss this as part of career planning, ideally in appraisals. The HoD will need to discuss any potential move with the Faculty Dean and Director of Operations before signalling approval for an application for promotion and transfer to the academic track. Faculties will have a number of considerations, including how any teaching may be covered if an employee transfers to an academic role. Where the transfer is supported by the HoD and Dean/Director of Operations a teaching employee may apply for a promotion to an academic role at the next level up within the senior promotions application form. For example a Lecturer (Teaching) may apply to become an Associate Professor on an academic contract. In addition, Professors (Teaching) can apply to transfer to the role of Professor and the senior promotion process will be followed to consider these cases. The success of the application will depend on a consideration of the employee’s application by the panels against the relevant criteria in the academic careers framework.

Role of Heads of Department (HoDs) and Line Managers

9. HoDs play a crucial and pivotal role in academic career development and the provision of advice to staff who are considering applying for promotion. All HoDs should have attended an academic promotions workshop for Deans and HoDs and should have familiarised themselves with this guidance document and the Academic Careers Framework.

10. Aspiration for promotion should be discussed as a matter of course in annual appraisal. Appraisal gives an opportunity to review trajectory against the Academic Careers Framework and discuss any areas of further development. Constructive feedback and recommendations for development should be an integral part of this process. Consideration should be given to any specific initiatives/areas of work that could be taken on which would best ensure career development over time. All line managers of academic staff should therefore familiarise themselves with the Academic Careers Framework.

11. HoDs and other senior academic managers must be aware of equality and diversity issues. Promotion is a key mechanism by which staff progress through UCL and outcomes have a significant impact on UCL’s equalities objective to increase diversity at its highest grades. HoDs should ensure that institutional citizenship roles are allocated openly, fairly and transparently. Consideration should be given to enable all staff (including staff with caring responsibilities, disabled staff and part time staff) to undertake these roles, so that they are not disadvantaged in developing their careers. It is particularly important that attention is paid to the career progression of female, BAME staff or any other groups that are underrepresented at senior levels. More information is contained in the personal circumstances section later in this guide.

12. It is recommended that HoDs ensure that appropriate mentoring opportunities are made available to colleagues in order to help develop their academic careers. Mentoring opportunities can be discussed at annual appraisals and they should be clearly communicated within departments to all academic staff.

13. To ensure consistency, it is recommended that each HoD should convene a yearly review panel consisting of senior members of the department to ensure that all staff are considered and assessed as to whether or not they should be encouraged to apply for promotion that year. EDI should be a core consideration and it is important to ensure that panel membership includes staff with protected characteristics. The expertise of the panel members should cover the broad spectrum of academic life including education, research, enterprise, external engagement and institutional citizenship. This is very important to ensure that staff have confidence that all cases will be considered fairly and equitably.

Personal circumstances

14. Candidates are encouraged to indicate any specific personal circumstances that may have affected their output. A range of personal circumstances can be taken into account, some examples are as follows:

  • absences due to maternity, adoption, parental or carer’s 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;
  • career breaks of more than six consecutive months.

Similarly, applicants should get in touch if they require a reasonable adjustment to the application process itself. Please contact snrproms@ucl.ac.uk with your request.

15. If candidates have any personal circumstances these should be detailed with their application. Invitations for example to supervise students or give talks which could not be taken up, should also be clearly listed in the Personal Circumstances document which can be found in the Supporting Documentation section (paragraph 27). Whilst the various committees may take account of a reduced quantity of output, quality must be maintained. Evidence of a candidate's work trajectory is important. Individual circumstances should be taken into account when career development is discussed to ensure no members of academic staff are overlooked for development opportunities or to undertake key departmental management roles. It is the responsibility of HoDs to ensure such matters are proactively addressed in their Department.

Covid 19 and no detriment

16. This year additional questions have been added to allow candidates to outline the specific effect of the pandemic on their work. Clearly most staff will have been affected in some way by the pandemic and it is our expectation that staff will answer the first question ‘What has been the impact of covid-19 on your work?’ Candidates are asked to outline briefly, but as specifically as possible, how the pandemic has affected their work since March this year. Examples could be the effect of homeworking balanced with additional caring responsibilities, or the effect on research if lab space was not accessible. In contrast others may have found that opportunities for collaboration have increased. There will be other examples. Candidates should outline the specific result on their output, which panels will consider in their deliberations.

17. We are aware that colleagues have made significant and varied additional contributions which have enabled UCL to operate effectively during the pandemic. A second question focuses on how applicants may have taken on important additional duties, roles or responsibilities during the pandemic. This may have influenced the amount of time dedicated to, for example, research. These roles can lend themselves to the important citizenship criteria of the academic careers framework. Panels will again consider this as part of an assessment of the overall weight of an applicant’s case.

Direct route cases (self-proposals)

18. Every member of academic staff has the right to propose themselves for promotion without going through the HoD. The procedure will be the same as that for standard applications except that the candidate will deal directly with the Faculty Dean. The HoD will have no direct role in such an application but will be informed by the Dean that a direct route application has been made. The Dean will consult with whomever they consider appropriate when preparing the case for presentation to the School Committee. It is important to note the points in Paragraph 12 above, in terms of ensuring that appropriate expertise should be involved to cover the broad spectrum of academic life including education, research, enterprise, external engagement and institutional citizenship – as appropriate to the case.

Restrictions on applying

19. Where an employee is subject to a disciplinary sanction they may be restricted from being promoted. Specifically:

  • If a member of staff is the subject of an investigation then the promotion is suspended until the investigation is completed;
  • Anyone with a final written warning cannot be considered for promotion that year;
  • If a member of staff has received a verbal or written warning then the nature of the warning is considered by the HoD and/or Dean, taking advice from UCL HR. 

Publishing results

20. It is important that all successful candidates are recognised for their achievements and UCL HR will publish a list of all promoted staff on an annual basis.

Process for Senior Academic Promotion (to Grades 9 and 10)

21. All applications for promotion to Grades 9 and 10 (Associate Professor, Professor, Principal Research Fellow, Professorial Research Fellow, Associate Professor (Teaching) and Professor (Teaching)) are considered by the UCL Academic Promotions Committee annually, following the meetings and recommendations of four School Promotion Sub-Committees.  

22. The membership of the School Sub-Committees comprise of the relevant Executive Deans from each School, and nominated professorial members of staff from the Faculties. In the IOE, it comprises of the Pro-Directors plus nominated professorial members of staff from academic departments.


23. For promotion to Associate Professor or Professor, eligibility is restricted to:

  • Staff currently employed in an academic post, i.e. Lecturer (to Associate Professor), Senior Lecturer/Reader/Associate Professor (to Professor);
  • Senior/Principal Research Fellows with external Fellowships to whom UCL has made a contractual commitment of assimilation into an academic post on cessation of their Fellowship. To note, irrespective of promotion, the transfer to an academic role will only occur at the end of the Fellowship, although a candidate may be promoted to a higher graded Research role during the Fellowship;
  • Staff on teaching contracts in line with the process outlined in paragraph 8;
  • NHS Consultants holding an appropriate and current honorary academic appointment at UCL; and
  • Research Council employees holding an appropriate and current honorary academic appointment at UCL.

24. For promotion to Principal Research Fellow or Professorial Research Fellow (Grades 9 or 10), eligibility is restricted to staff currently employed in a research post (and where staff are externally funded, dependent upon funding being available).

25. For promotion to Associate Professor (Teaching) or Professor (Teaching) (Grades 9 or 10), eligibility is restricted to staff currently employed in a Senior Teaching Fellow/Lecturer (Teaching) or Principal Teaching Fellow/Associate Professor (Teaching) post.  

Senior Academic Promotions System

26. Applicants should use the Senior Academic Promotions system which is  accessible when the annual process is live.

Access Senior Promotions System

Key stages and timeline 2022/23 Promotions Round

Key stages and timeline 2021/22 Promotions Round


Proposed Date

Launch 2022/23 Promotions application process. Online system to open for applications: www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/senior_promotions/

11am 17 October 2022

Closing date for finalised applications. After this point, edits cannot be made

11pm 28 November 2022

Head of Department supporting documentation submission date

5pm 13 December 2022

Referees contacted and references collated

January-March 2023

Two weeks additional information windows opens

February 2023

Packs sent out to committee members

March-April 2023

School Committees meet

April-May 2023

Academic Promotions Committee meets

June/July 2023

Results confirmed

July 2023

New Contracts issued

August - September 2023

Promotions implements and new titles apply

1 October 2023

Supporting documentation

27. Electronic copies of the following documents are required.

  • CV - Candidates should note that all information must be presented using the template (see below).  Please try and restrict your CV to a maximum of 20 pages of A4 with a font size of Arial. 

  • Personal circumstances – Specific personal circumstances that might have affected your output, including the effects of Covid 19. 

  • Personal Statement - The candidate's personal statement should indicate how they have demonstrated personal impact in relation to the criteria set out in the Academic Careers Framework. All candidates should refer to the Framework and to the Building a case for academic promotion document.  The statement may involve cross-reference to the CV and IRIS where appropriate. The personal statement should be restricted to two sides of A4 with a font size of Arial 11.  Do not include reference quotes or make comparisons to other individuals.
  • Publications List - The candidate's publications list should be produced via UCL's Research Publications System (RPS) database and listed in the order indicated in Promotions Annexure C - Publications list Preparation in the IOE, where historical RPS records may not be complete, a supplementary list of publications may also be submitted. 

  • Referees - Referees nominated by the candidate (see paragraphs 26-28 below for further guidance).

28. Follow the guidance on the promotions system and please note that once the application is submitted no further edits will be permitted. There will be a final opportunity for candidates to submit any additional information occurring after the initial deadline.  This will be in February.

Referee nominations

29. External and internal referees act as advisors to UCL. It is important that candidates and Heads of Department ensure in advance that the nominated referees are willing and available to act in this capacity.  Failure to do so may lead to problems in obtaining a reference.  Referees should be impartial/independent and should not include the immediate Head of Department, PhD supervisor, close active collaborators friends and relatives. It is recommended that all academic references are from existing professors where possible.

30. Letters from the Provost seeking the confidential opinion of referees will:

  • refer to the relevant criteria
  • request an estimation of the strength of the case
  • enclose a copy of the candidate's CV, personal statement, publication list and the criteria for promotion.
  • State whether they are a HoD or candidate reference

31. Please note that for promotion to Professor or Professorial Research Fellow at least 1 candidate and 1 HoD reference must be from an international source. This is important to demonstrate an international profile. It is recommended that all applicants give consideration to including international referees as an additional method of outlining their international profile.

The number of references required for each particular role are outlined below. While this sets out the normal number of references required, we are aware that obtaining references in the current environment is likely to be challenging. Therefore, where there is difficulty in obtaining a reference the panel may move forward with their assessments:

The number of references required for each particular role are outlined below:

The number of references required for each particular role


Associate Professor

Principal Research Fellow

Associate Professor (Teaching)


Professorial Research Fellow

Professor (Teaching)

Candidate- internal referees







Candidate- external referees







HoD- internal referees







HoD- external referees







Total Referees







32.    Head of Department's supporting documentation (Dean if direct route case)

The Head of Department's supporting documentation should be uploaded by the Head of Department via the Senior Promotions Application by 5pm on the 13 December 2022. The documents required are as follows:

  • A Head of Department's statement, signed and dated, not normally exceeding one side of A4 in length must include:
    • An assessment of the candidate against the promotion criteria with reference to the norms of the discipline particularly to innovation and dissemination beyond UCL;
    • If applicable and not included on CV, a statement regarding personal circumstances that have had an impact on the candidate's output.

In Direct Route cases, a Head of Department's statement is not applicable.

Access Senior Promotions System

Processes for Promotion to Grades 7 and 8

33. The following guidance outlines the arrangement for consideration of promotion to all academic roles below grade 9. This includes promotion to:

  • Research Fellow (7)
  • Senior Research Fellow (8)
  • Lecturer (Teaching) (8)

34. Information on eligibility and career routes for academic, research and teaching staff can be found in section 6. Whatever the route, the process by which promotions are considered is consistent. Promotion decisions taken by HoDs should always relate to an assessment of impact using the criteria in the Academic Careers Framework.  

35. Local variations in practice exist to promote equitable treatment for staff, including in the IOE and SLMS – where applications are reviewed at fixed points in the year. Staff should consult their Faculty Intranet pages for details. 

36. Automatic Promotion from Research Assistant (grade 6) to Research Fellow (grade 7) will take place when the member of staff obtains a relevant PhD. The promotion will be effected once the PhD has been awarded, and will be backdated to the date the PhD thesis was finally submitted (including corrections).  The department must complete the regrade form, to submit the request to UCL HR Services requesting a regrading on this basis, confirming respective dates of submission and award, and supplying appropriate supporting paperwork from the awarding body.

37. In all other cases, where promotion is not on the basis of gaining a relevant PhD, promotion should be based on a consideration of profile by the Head of Department, guided by the relevant academic careers framework criteria. The materials to be provided by the candidate to the Head of Department are listed below:

  • A Curriculum Vitae which must contain at least the required elements specified in the Curriculum Vitae template 

  • a brief self-assessment indicating how the candidate's activity matches the criteria for promotion contained within the academic career framework. This should be no longer than one side of A4; a detailed description is not required in this statement, but the candidate may wish to indicate the impact of their work and their future direction.  

38. The Head of Department should then assess the case using the relevant criteria held in the academic careers framework. Once agreed, they should complete the regrade form, requesting formal confirmation of the promotion. HR Services will send a new contract variation letter to the individual and arrange for payroll action to be taken.

39. Promotion from Research Assistant (grade 6) to Research Fellow (grade 7) can be considered at any time, either on the HoD's positive recommendation or following direct application by the individual to the HoD. In all other cases the member of staff will be promoted to the applicable grade 8 role (Research, Teaching or Academic) with effect from 1st October following confirmation being received.

Annual reports

40. UCL HR will write annually to Directors of Operations to indicate those individuals, whose grade should be actively reviewed, using the relevant criteria, as follows: 

  • A review of all staff who have served for 12 (or more) months on the highest point of grade 6 for Research Staff (which is point 26) will be undertaken by each HoD, using the Academic Careers Framework to assess whether they should be regraded to grade 7. 

  • Staff on Research Assistant (grade 6) for four or more years will be regraded to grade 7 automatically unless the duties undertaken do not fulfil the criteria for grade 7, or when in exceptional circumstances a recommendation to the contrary is made. Where the promotion is not supported, the individual should be informed of the reason for remaining on grade 6 and a written report should be forwarded to UCL HR (the relevant HR Advisory Services contact). 

  • HR will inform Directors of Operations of staff who have reached the maximum spine point of grade 7 in their Associate Lecturer (Teaching) or Research Fellow role.


1 Staff who joined the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) before its merger with UCL, and who remain on IOE terms and conditions, can apply across the various routes. Upon promotion UCL terms will apply (however, research staff with “protected academic status” will retain it).

Last updated October 2022