Scholarship and academic capitals: the boundaried nature of education-focused career tracks

Susan Smith, David Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Education-focused roles represent a large and rapidly increasing share of the academic workforce in UK higher education. This expansion has resulted in the emergence of dedicated career tracks running in parallel with established teaching and research routes. Role descriptors and promotion criteria for these roles typically require evidence of scholarship. Despite their establishment, academics on these tracks face considerable challenges in pursuit of career advancement due to the varied definitions and expected outputs from scholarship. This exploratory study analysed the role descriptors and promotion criteria of 48 mid-sized UK universities. The findings point to significant differences between the titling of roles on education-focused career pathways, definitions of scholarship, expectations in terms of impact and the relationship of scholarship vis-à-vis pedagogic research. These differences risk creating boundaried careers for those who pursue, education-focused roles, reinforcing notions of hierarchy in academic pathways within the Academy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


  • Scholarship of Learning and Teaching
  • SOTL
  • Bourdieu
  • academic promotion
  • education
  • criteria
  • role descriptors
  • career
  • education-focused
  • higher education
  • teaching
  • Scholarship


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