Public health lecturers usually work in universities or colleges, either in the UK or abroad. They typically have teaching responsibilities, but sometimes also conduct research. Day-to-day, the role is likely to consist of teaching students about public health theories and practice and assessing and examining students’ work.
Public health lecturers usually teach across all the three main areas of public health (health improvement, health protection and healthcare services).
The following are examples of the variety of academic public health roles available:
- Academic clinical fellow in public health
- Clinical lecturer in public health
- Lecturer in public health
- Head of school of public health
As an academic clinical fellow in public health, you’ll be part of a programme that includes training in two areas. About a quarter of training time focuses on being an academic researcher and teacher, and the rest of the programme is dedicated to the specialty of public health. For this reason, fellowships are ideally suited to people who are committed to a career in academia but have little formal academic training.
The fellowship lasts for a maximum of three years, but you’ll likely be supported and encouraged to apply for funding for a higher degree, such as a PhD, before the fellowship ends. Recruitment for the role is national and is run by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
Find out more about academic clinical fellowships.
As a clinical lecturer in public health, you’ll have completed a research doctorate or equivalent in your field and show outstanding potential for continuing a career in academia.
The role offers a training programme in both the specialty of public health and in academic research.
Clinical lecturer posts last a maximum of four years and post-holders are encouraged to apply for funding for post-doctoral research or educational training when the position ends. Recruitment for the role is national and is run by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
As a lecturer in public health, most of your responsibilities are centred around teaching. This includes:
- Teaching in lectures and taking seminars and tutorials
- Assisting with departmental research
- Coordinating course programmes, such as a master’s programme in public health
- Contributing to the delivery of courses coordinated by others
- Supervising students who are studying for undergraduate degrees and postgraduate qualifications
As a lecturer in public health, you can still pursue your own research interests (within the context of your employer’s research priorities), apply for grants to support your research and publish your findings in academic journals, or present them at regional, national and international conferences.
You’ll need to keep up to date with your area of expertise by attending conferences and working in partnership with colleagues. You might also be involved in planning and objective-setting in the academic department where you work.
As a head of school, you’ll lead the ongoing development and quality assurance of regional public health specialist training schemes, such as overseeing and assessing training placements.
You’ll also be responsible for overseeing formal academic training for trainees, for example, reviewing the quality of trainees’ master of public health programme. You’ll also work with trainers who provide mentoring and supervision for trainees in their work placements.