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Career paths within research and teaching at Lund University

On this page you can learn more about possible career paths within research and teaching at Lund University.

The image shows possible career paths for academic staff within Lund university
Click on the image to enlarge

The image shows a possible career path within research and teaching at Lund University. 

Building an academic career 

Good, clear career paths are contingent upon there being a need within the organisation and funding in the relevant organisation. Opportunities for building an academic career are diverse. It may be straightforward, but is often somewhat more complex. Even within Lund University, career paths vary between the different faculties.

Four stages of academic career development

Within the EU, academic career paths are divided into four stages. Read more about each stage in the accordion below. Note that the various phases do not need to be completed within the same university, but the description is based on the teaching positions that exist at Lund University.

Lund University strives to offer four-year doctoral studentships (employment is sometimes up to five years when significant departmental duties are involved, such as teaching). The majority of doctoral students then leave academia to take up employment in the private or public sector.

If you are employed elsewhere, you may still complete third-cycle education through an agreement between Lund University and your employer. You then become what is known as an externally employed doctoral student. As an externally employed doctoral student, you are not employed by Lund University, but are instead subject to your employer’s terms of employment.

If you have a third-cycle education from a higher education institution outside of Sweden that is equivalent to doctoral studies, you are well-placed to be able to continue to develop your career at Lund University. International experience is often valued.

There are two different formal career development positions at Lund University. A two to three-year-long postdoc position, and employment lasting four to six years as an associate senior lecturer. Recruitment to both positions is through open competition. The purpose of the career development positions is to gain experience of both teaching and research.

Postdoctoral fellow

If you are employed as a postdoctoral fellow (postdoc) within Sweden, you are to primarily focus on development within research, according to the central collective agreement. However, developing teaching skills can be equally important for a subsequent career, particularly within academia.

In the development stage, there may often be one or more periods of postdoc employment. They may be at a university or universities within Sweden and/or abroad. This is to equip postdocs to deal with competition in a future academic career. Networking through work at other higher education institutions and the experience gained are valuable in a continuing academic career. Other ways of developing one’s career might be through applying for a (fixed-term) position as a researcher/equivalent, working in industry, volunteering, or applying for employment as a lecturer to gain further qualifications within education. This period might be experienced by some as insecure and uncertain, yet enriching. The length of the career development stage varies according to the research subject and level of competition for positions. 

Associate senior lecturer

As an associate senior lecturer, meanwhile, you have a fixed-term career development position with the right to be assessed for permanent employment as a senior lecturer. This career path is sometimes referred to as the tenure track. It is common, particularly within the subject areas of medicine, engineering and science, for employment as an associate senior lecturer to be preceded by one or several postdoc positions beyond the higher education institution.

As a senior lecturer at Lund University, there are opportunities to spend time on research, teaching and external engagement. A senior lecturer will normally be permanently employed and often takes great responsibility for intertwining teaching and research. Vacancies for senior lecturer positions are announced in open competition, but may also be offered to an associate senior lecturer who has applied for promotion (known as the tenure track) and deemed to have gained teaching expertise as well as research/artistic expertise.

Established researchers are also present within this stage. A researcher is often funded to a great extent by external funding, which means a less secure employment and a more limited opportunity for developing expertise in teaching. Employment as a researcher is not a teaching position at Lund University, which means that researchers may not assess students and cannot apply for promotion to professor. The position of professor may always be applied for in open competition. Owing to this and other considerations, Lund University has adopted the aim of reducing the number of researcher positions. It is important to be aware of the differences between the various positions and the more conventional career paths.

The final stage is employment as a professor. Upon reaching this stage, you are a research leader or leading specialist in your subject, both in terms of research and teaching.

At Lund University, the position of professor is the pre-eminent teaching position and during employment there are many opportunities to undertake both research and teaching. Employment as a professor is a permanent position The position of professor is permanent and vacancies are normally announced in open competition. Open competition ensures quality, mobility, diversity and transparency. At Lund University, a senior lecturer can also hold employment as a professor in those cases where the faculty deems there to be strategic requirements for a promotion and the qualification requirements for employment as a professor have been met. At certain faculties, the opportunities for promotion are very limited.


Kristine Widlund
+46 46 222 47 86
kristine [dot] widlund [at] hr [dot] lu [dot] se
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