Covering letters for academic jobs in the UK

Key elements for your academic covering letter  

Your academic covering letter should:

  • be approximately one to two A4 pages in length, but can be longer (especially for more senior positions).
  • 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.
  • make clear links between your experience and the job to which you are applying (e.g. which of the departments modules you could teach on, which staff members you could collaborate with etc., if relevant).

What to include in your academic covering letter

Your CV is there for the employer to refer to for further details, so you should avoid simply repeating your CV again in your covering letter. In your covering letter, you should argue your case as to why your experience so far makes you a great candidate for that particualr job at that particular university. Here are some tips on what to include in your academic covering letter:

  • Open by explaining what you are applying for and where you say it advertised.
  • 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 and/or teaching experience complement those of the department.
  • Give examples that show that 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 in which you have been involved.
  • 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.   
  • If you would like advice on your academic covering letter, you can arrange to see the PGR Careers Adviser.

Good luck with your applications!