Professor

The basic hierarchy of an academic physics department in the UK is as follows:

Undergraduate student : baby physicists, full of hope and enthusiasm. After completing a 4 year physics degree, students can apply to become a …

PhD student : they usually work on a single experiment for 3.5 years, at the end of which they have produced a thesis of original research. After this, they can apply to become a …

Research Fellow / PostDoc : these positions generally last for 2-5 years. Most people do a few of them at different institutes, often in different countries. When a postdoc has enough of traveling and wants to settle down, they might apply to be a …

Lecturer : a lecturer is a member of academic staff at a University who delivers lectures to undergraduates and/or postgraduates, supervises and advises individual project/PhD students, undertakes an administrative role within their department, and continues with a full research programme. Quite often lecturers are given postdocs by their host university, to help them keep up with the research side of their workload while teaching is in full swing. A successfull lecturer can apply for promotion to …

Senior Lecturer / Reader : this is the same role as a lecturer, with more responsibility and a higher salary. People at this grade who produce a sustained and world-leading research profile (lots of papers!) while maintaining a leading role in University matters and teaching can apply to become a …

Professor : this is the highest academic grade.