Academic Development Programme

Professor Mark Sterling, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor (Staffing)

Professor Mark Sterling, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor (Staffing)

“Congratulations on your appointment! I am delighted to welcome you to the Academic Development Programme (ADP) at the University of Birmingham. The ADP is a newly launched, comprehensive programme designed to ensure you have the best possible start to your career and achieve promotion to Associate Professor at the end of the programme, which will typically be a period of 5 years. We welcome and support earlier promotion, if the relevant expectations have been met within a shorter period of time. I hope you will find the programme and the opportunities it presents stimulating and that your career at Birmingham flourishes.”

The ADP has been developed within an overarching framework of dedicated support embedded within the programme, to allow you the time and space to develop and grow, whilst also appreciating what it means to work at the University of Birmingham.   You will be supported throughout your time on the ADP by a series of measures, each designed to offer you different opportunities to expand your skills, knowledge and experience.  These include development opportunities, mentoring support, peer support group membership, and allowing time for reflection. 

There are, of course, a wealth of opportunities which you will benefit from through your College, all of which will contribute to your experience, development and readiness to be promoted to Associate Professor at the end of the ADP. 

As is outlined further below, you will be supported to develop through the programme with a series of objectives (taken from the Library of Objectives and adapted for you) which will be agreed locally with your manager and which will be designed to ensure that you are able to reach your potential at the end of the programme.  These objectives and your general progression will be subject to annual review. 

Whilst we typically expect Assistant Professors to be ready to be promoted to Associate Professor at the end of five years (or shorter as appropriate) we also recognise that rates of progression may differ, particularly those impacted by life events or individual circumstances and therefore we have in place supportive measures to ensure that where necessary, additional time is given on the programme, further details of which can be found under the Individual Circumstances section below.

This website is designed to ensure that you can find the information about what the University expects of you and how you can create a successful career here, together with sources of support and guidance.  You can also access support from your HR team in the College.

Further documents and guidance are available to download below.

Commitment and expectations

Our commitment to you is to provide you with the time, support and resources that mean you will progress at the end of the programme to Associate Professor. 

In return we expect that you will make the most of your time on the programme, giving us your full engagement with and participation in the development and networking opportunities that will be offered to you.


We are a global university based in the thriving, multi-cultural city of Birmingham.  We have over 36,000 students and over 8,000 staff who are recruited internationally, nationally and locally, creating a university community of over 150 nationalities.

 The huge range of perspectives and experiences this diversity of community gives us is a source of institutional strength and vitality that underpins the exchange of ideas, innovation and debate. 

We are committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive learning and working environment, where equality is promoted, diversity is valued and discriminatory behaviour is not tolerated. We expect all of our employees to respect each other.


The programme is applicable to all Assistant Professors whose contract of employment includes the requirement to undertake the programme.

Career Pathways

Assistant Professors are appointed on the basis that the majority of their contribution will fall into one of the following main career pathways, which will be clearly articulated at the recruitment and selection stage, depending on the need of the School/College at the time of appointment: 

  • Education
  • Research and Education 
  • Enterprise, Engagement and Impact 

All Assistant Professors are likely to contribute to teaching.  You will undertake administration related to your career pathway, and will also be able to develop contributions to citizenship, leadership and management. 

We are able, however, to be flexible and move you between these career pathways, depending on how your interests and career develop, and subject to there being agreement by both yourself and the University that such a move is appropriate.

Support, Wellbeing and Individual Circumstances

During the programme you will have the support of your line manager and/or Head of Department/School/Institute as appropriate.  In addition, you will be allocated a mentor whose role is to support and guide you through the programme; your mentor will not be involved in decisions relating to your progression on the programme.  

In order to expose you to senior level thinking and offer peer networking opportunities across the University you will become a member of a peer support group.  This group, comprised of other Assistant Professors on the ADP, will be co-led by a senior academic member of staff and a senior professional services member of staff and will offer one or two guided opportunities each year, with the expectation that group members will also self-organise networking opportunities on an ongoing basis. 

Should there be any cause for concern regarding an Assistant Professor’s progression on the programme, such matters will be discussed as soon as possible with the Assistant Professor underpinned by an ethos of encouraging improvement and providing a supportive environment within which to do so. Further guidance regarding this is available in the Guidelines for Managing Progression through the Academic Development Programme – available on the Academic Development website.

Should you have any concerns at any point please raise these in the first instance within your School and College. 

The University has a number of resources to help support your wellbeing during your time on the programme, and beyond.  These resources can be found on our Workplace Wellbeing site.  You may wish to review the employee assistance programme (EAP) provided to our staff by Health Assured which is on the site and which offers a number of services:

 Health Assured offers cover for you and your immediate family members*, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year: 

  • Life support: Unlimited access to counselling for emotional problems and a pathway to structured telephone counselling or face-to-face counselling sessions (employees only) at your convenience.
  • Legal information: For any issues that cause anxiety or distress including debt management, accountancy, lawsuits, consumer disputes, property or neighbour legalities (employees only). View the guidance information for further details.
  • Bereavement support: Health Assured offers qualified and experienced counsellors who can help with grief and related stress plus a team of legal advisors to help with legal issues.  Please click here for the HA Bereavement Guide.
  • Medical information: Qualified nurses are on hand to offer advice on a range of medical or health related issues. They can’t diagnose but can offer a sympathetic ear and practical information and advice.
  • CBT online: We recognise the value of self-help tools in dealing with a range of issues, and Health Assured have have a range of CBT self-help modules, informative factsheets and invaluable advice videos from leading qualified counsellors.
  • Health support: Mini health checks, health and fitness plans, mood tracker

*Health Assured define dependants as immediate family members (spouse/partners) and children aged 16 to 24 in full time education, living in the same household. 

Individual circumstances
We are committed to giving you the time, support and resources needed to succeed on the ADP, the length of which is typically around 5 years.  Earlier or later completions are allowed for.  We will work with you to extend the programme if you have had extended periods of absence (such as long term sickness or family leave).  In order to support you as much as possible on your return from the University after a period of extended absence, the end date for completion of the ADP will be adjusted by 1.5 times the length of absence.  Similarly, if there are other individual circumstances which significantly impact on your ability to complete the ADP but are not related to extended absence then these circumstances will be taken into account and adjustments made as necessary.

Length of Programme, Courses & Resources

Length of Programme

The normal length of the programme is 5 years from the date of appointment.   If you already have experience at another Higher Education institution, then you may be asked to complete a shorter period but everyone is expected to complete at least the first phase of the programme before seeking promotion.  The programme is split into three phases;                                                                                 

 Phase One Induction/settling in  One year
 Phase Two Developing competencies Two years
Phase Three Increased and sustained performance Two years

The overall time spent on the programme may be extended due to individual personal circumstances.  In addition, your School may recommend you for early completion of the programme where this is considered appropriate.

Courses & Resources


Also in this section


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