Example Cover Letter For Teaching Job Uk Academic

It’s also important to understand what will and won’t be acceptable to the organisation you’re hoping to join. Faced with a big pile of applications, an employer is looking for reasons to put most of them in the bin. If your application varies from the expected format or is difficult for the potential employer to understand you are giving them a reason to discard it - and all before they’ve had a chance to see that you’re perfect for the job!

Online advice on academic cover letters can be conflicting due to different expectations between disciplines and especially between countries: some examples are length of the letter, what it should include versus the CV/resume and type of supplementary documents to attach.

Getting your letter right

Other things to consider

Cultural differences - a few examples

Articles about academic cover letters or applications

Templates and examples

Will anyone read my cover letter?

Getting your letter right

There are some things everyone seems to agree on and which are not specific to applications for academic positions. Key points include:

  • The main purposes of your letter are to convey your enthusiasm, to make it clear why you’re a good fit for the position and why you want to work in that department or research group
  • Tailor your letter to the position and employer. If you use the same letter for all applications it will probably be obvious, could give the appearance that you are not as keen as other candidates and is likely to be detrimental to your application.  Remember that your covering letter might be the first thing that a potential employer reads
  • Try to address your letter to a specific individual. Do a bit of digging if you don’t already know who the appropriate person is
  • Rather than simply making assertions, give evidence to illustrate your strengths and your fit for the role
  • Don’t repeat what can easily be seen on your CV/resume
  • Get the tone right. Apart from being professional, the right tone can vary by culture so if you’re applying outside your home nation or your comfort zone, do some research. For example, what passes for a confident tone in one culture might appear to be arrogance in another
  • Make sure you use correct spelling and grammar and have made no mistakes.

Other things to consider

  • If the application is by online form, send a cover letter in addition unless this is specifically prohibited. If the entire application must be submitted via the online form, look for ways to incorporate what you would otherwise include in a cover letter
  • When sending your application by email, make sure that the titles of your email and of each attachment include your name and the title or reference for the position. Make it easy for your potential employer – they shouldn’t have to open your cover letter just to check who it’s from
  • Your email might be forwarded directly to the person who’s making decisions about applications so make sure that the email itself is clear and professional. It’s also important to consider your email address, for example if you are currently using funtimesjo@gmail.com don’t even think of using it – set up a new address with a more professional feel such as joannajones4@gmail.com
  • Unless you possess a good knowledge of a national language for the country you’re applying to, write in English which is a working language in academia in many countries. In cases where English might not be widely spoken you could send both English and translated versions of your cover letter and other documents
  • If you have a professional website, you could direct a potential employer to it for additional information about you, if it's relevant to the position.

Cultural differences – a few examples

Consider what your potential employer will expect from an application to ensure that you stand out in the right ways, not the wrong ways! If you’re not completely familiar with the culture and customs of the country or situation you’re applying to, seek specific advice. Universities, professional bodies and national careers services might offer information. There may be international expertise in your current institution’s advisory services or in your personal network but consider whether potential advisors also have specific knowledge of academic expectations.

Here are just a few examples of different expectations that might affect how you write your cover letter or put together your application as a whole:

  • If you are applying for a position in China, remember that Chinese names are written surname first. Also, in Chinese culture humility is appreciated far more than arrogance. Language that may not seem arrogant in Western culture may appear so in China
  • For many countries, in addition to a cover letter, CV/resume, statement of academic research interests and application form it’s usual to include a professional photograph. If it’s not usual, don’t include one. In other countries, including Germany, copies of educational certificates and written references may also be expected
  • UK advice may positively encourage you to contact a potential employer - to discuss the position and the sort of person they’re looking for - as part of your research on the role. Taking the initiative, showing an interest and drawing yourself to their attention is seen as complementary to your written application. If you’re applying to a university or institute in the USA, while asking for basic information may be acceptable appearing to promote yourself outside of the defined application process can be frowned upon
  • Be aware of variations in academic qualifications and job titles between countries and that some explanation from you may be necessary. For example Lecturer (level B) in Australia is equivalent to Assistant Professor in North American universities. If you are from France and have the Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches qualification, this might need further explanation if you are applying to work in a country where no similar qualification exists, such as the UK.

Articles about academic cover letters or applications

Templates and examples

Will anyone read my cover letter?

It’s impossible to say and probably in some cases no. However, in lots of cases your letter will be read or even prioritised so deciding not to bother is simply not worth it. If you do, that’s just the impression you could give – that you couldn’t be bothered.


Writing a cover letter can seem pointless when online application forms and CVs provide employers with plenty of information. However, for academic jobs, the cover letter is essential. This article explores why you need one and what you should include.

Why bother with a cover letter?

A cover letter can emphasise why you are perfect for the job. It gives you a second opportunity (as well as the ‘personal statement’ section of the application form) to match your skills and knowledge to the person requirements.

But also it gives you an opportunity to display your communications skills so it is vital that your cover letter be perfect in terms of proof reading. This means no silly spelling or grammar mistakes. Your letter will go straight in the bin if there are errors!

Like your application form, a cover letter should be about what you can do for the department and institution. So, don’t make your cover letter all about ‘me, me, me’, but instead talk about what you have to offer them.

What ‘tone’ should I use?

Cover letters must be professional and formal. Do not be tempted to adopt a chatty, colloquial style in order to seem friendly and approachable. The cover letter is not the place to do this.

Equally the font and layout should be in a standard business letter style. Do not try to do anything flash.

Address the letter to the interviewer by name if possible rather than using ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. If you are unsure, find out who the head of department is and address the letter to them.

How long should it be?

An academic cover letter should not be much more than two pages. Remember that the selection panel might have several hundred applications to look through: you want your letter to have immediate impact so no waffling!

What should be included?

You need to give a brief summary (a couple of sentences only) on why you should be considered for the job. Then outline your past expertise and your current and future plans in the areas of teaching and research including details and examples. These should be chosen based on the sorts of things the employers are interested in (you’ll find this out on their website and on the job advert). Finish with a snappy short paragraph on why you fit their requirements and asking for an interview.

How should this be laid out?

A cover letter should look like this:


or more like this if you are in a senior lectureship post:


Easy mistakes to make on a cover letter:

  • It’s too long: employers won’t bother reading it
  • It’s too short (or writing ‘refer to my CV or application’): this shows you haven’t bothered.
  • Failure to proofread: looks unprofessional and it will be discarded immediately
  • It’s too generic: always tailor it to one particular job rather than having a standard letter.

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