STEM teaching positions without research


I'm at a critical-decision point in life/career and I would really like some advice.

I want to teach and be involved in education, but I'd like to do this without the research. Indeed, I would like to do this part-time, allowing me to study independently and maintain other interests. Salary isn't so much of an issue.

I understand that a natural suggestion would be school teaching, which is a good career with good holidays. However, I feel that I would get bored teaching lower-level subject (it would be physics or maths or chemistry in my case) for many years, and would also not enjoy classroom-management side.

Another route I'd looked at is Associate Lecturer roles with the OU, which would let me study and teach at the same time. However, I've been put off by many negative reviews regarding workload/pay balance and negative structural change within the organisation (which many feel is destroying the OU).

I have a first class Masters in Chemical Engineering and further masters degree in membrane engineering. I'm studying standalone applied maths modules with the Open University.

If anyone can share anything at all that could help, I'd be very thankful.


You may be able to find teaching positions at universities (most likely lower tier ones) that don't require a PhD.

Many universities now are offering teaching only contracts, where you lecturer/tutor/teach undergrads but don't do research. These may be part time or term time only. It's essentially a lecturer-type role but with no research element.

Look for roles advertised as Teaching Assistant or Teaching Associate.


Hi, impasse,

I completely agree with TreeofLife. Tutoring is a great way to teach and you can set how many subjects and therefore how many tutoring sessions you will have. You can always negotiate with the head of subject.

Besides that, I do think that you should consider the Associate Lecture role. You can give it a try and if it does not suit, leave later. Better having tried than never at all.

Good luck.


I should clarify that the teaching roles I am talking about are essentially lecturer roles. At Senior Teaching Associate level, you are an academic member of staff on the same grade and pay as a lecturer. You can usually progress to this from the more junior assistant and associate levels.


Quite surprised by Treeoflife's posts - is it really the norm for STEM depts. to employ unqualified people like the OP on a FT basis as lecturer equivs? It would be v v unlikely in my area. What about eg TEF?


Well, I'm in a top UK university and I wouldn't say it's the norm, but there's a couple of people I know in these positions without PhDs that aren't planning to get one. From looking at job descriptions of jobs advertised in other unis, I've seen PhDs listed as desirable rather than essential in these types of jobs. I'm guessing that in lower tier unis it's more likely that people in these teaching roles don't necessarily need a PhD, but the norm still is to have one.

There's many people in my department that don't like this, but sometimes people are excellent teachers without a PhD and students love them because of the way they lecture and support them in tutorials and practicals. Plus they come from outside academia with a load of enthusiasm for teaching and real world experience - this is quite often more than lecturers with PhDs have got, because they are more focused on research.

Personally I question the whole premise of a lecturer who doesn't do research but that seems to be the way my department is going.

I'm not sure how this impacts the TEF to be honest.


Wow that's really surprising to hear! My RG employer is going in the opposite direction and panicking about anyone teaching without both a PhD and a HE teaching qualification / HEA fellowship. Even our hourly paid staff (i.e. basically our PhD students) have to have completed the first module of the teaching qualification in order to run stage 1 seminars. We've been told this is because the TEF is likely to penalise institutions with noticeable numbers of 'unqualified' staff (apparently something the students and their parents have been complaining about to the government), so they are upping the incentives for older staff to get HEA fellowships (for anyone appointed in the last 15 years passing a teaching qualification was essential to get through probation). The PhD expectation has been around ever since they started badging our 'undergraduate offer' as featuring research-led teaching.
I had assumed the TEF effect was universal, and this is why I questioned your claim about lower ranked universities, because the lower ranked ones in this region are properly advertising jobs these days (they never used to do that - recruitment was very much 'who you knew') and saying PhD plus preferably HE teaching qualification as essential qualities. I've also heard that existing staff are being put under pressure to register for a PhD or lose their jobs.


Yes, my department is pushing everyone to be a FHEA too, but not PhD students yet. The only requirement they need to have in order to teach is to be registered on to a PhD. Some PhD students are also giving lectures, leading practicals and running tutorials, but they are on hourly paid contracts.

Not having a PhD is definitely the exception, my department wouldn't have an issue of 'non-qualified staff' because 95% of full-time teaching staff have PhDs and most, if not all, will have or will be working towards FHEA status. I'm guessing they have ways of getting around listing PhDs students as teaching staff, maybe by not listing hourly paid contracts, I'm not sure.

We are the same as you - advertising to prospective undergrads that they they will be taught by world class researchers, it's just that increasingly this is not the case, and students are being taught by less experienced academics as most of the high profile researchers have grants and fellowships that minimize their teaching obligations.