Covering letters for academic jobs in the UK

Key elements for your covering letter  

Your covering letter should:

  • be approximately 1 A4 page in length
  • focus on what you have to offer the department or institution to which you are applying, rather than what you’d like to gain from working there.
  • succinctly highlight your academic success and achievements, in relation to the post being advertised.

What to include in your covering letter

Your CV is there for the employer to refer to for further details, so you should use your covering letter to draw attention to its key points. Avoid simply repeating your CV again in your covering letter.   

  • Open by explaining what you are applying for
  • Briefly introduce yourself and what attracted you to the employer and the job (avoid directly restating phrases from their recruitment literature).   
  • Explain how your research interests complement those of the department.
  • Give examples that show you have the right combination of skills. Examples might include some details of modules you’ve taught, conferences you’ve participated in, successful collaborations or projects you’ve been involved in.  
  • Include a closing paragraph stating your availability for interview (if necessary) and that you look forward to hearing from them etc.   
  • Jobs.ac.uk have a useful academic cover letter template and an e-book guide on how to write a cover letter for academic jobs

Keep your letter succinct, relevant and enthusiastic in tone. Ensure it complies with formal conventions, e.g. sign off with “Yours sincerely” if it is addressed to a specific individual and “Yours faithfully” when you don’t have a name, and include your address and the date at the top.   

Good luck with your applications!  

Student writing on a flipchart