Promotions Procedure for Academic Staff

The University has in place promotion procedures for academic staff according to their level / grade. If you are interested in applying for promotion please ensure that you review the appropriate documentation and guidance before submitting your application.

Academic Applications to posts at Grade 7 – 9

A promotions exercise is undertaken on an annual basis. 

Academic Applications to posts at Grade 5 & 6

Applications can be received at any time in the year. A minimum of 12 months’ service is required and only one application can be made in any rolling 12 month period. More information can be found at the Grade 5 & 6 tab below.

Promotion Timetable

2022 Promotions Exercise Timetable

Event Date
Formal Launch 15 June 2022

School Information Sessions

20th, 22nd, 27th, 29th June 2022

Closing date for applications 16 September 2022

First meeting of Sub-Committee

October/November/December 2022

Second meeting of Sub-Committee

February/March 2023

Staff Promotion Committee &
Notification of Outcomes

April 2023

Consider appeals and provide outcomes By end June 2023
Effective date of successful promotion applications 1 August 2022
Academic Staff Grades 7-9

The University runs an annual Promotions Exercise for Academic Staff members seeking promotion (Grades 7-9). Below are the Promotions Procedures, Academic Promotion Guidance, Guidance on External Evaluations and Personal References, the National Academic Role Profiles by element, Guidance on Considering the Impact of Covid-19 and Guidance on the Head of School Evaluation Form.

If you are interested in applying for a promotion, it may be beneficial to review the following guidance documents before submitting your application:

Pure Data

Currently the data held on Pure for download may be incomplete. For a complete download of research data to support promotions applications please get in touch with Nykhola Stong (

REF Status

Please be advised that REF Status is not part of the promotions process. No REF-related information or declared individual circumstances are considered by the promotions panels.


If you wish to apply for a promotion, please complete the relevant Application Form and Standard CV Form from the list below:

Teaching and Scholarship

Teaching and Research


Standard CV Form

Head of School Evaluation Form

Academic Staff Grades 5-6

Applications for Research or Teaching staff seeking promotion to Grades 5 and 6 may be submitted at any time in the year, but a minimum of 12 months service is required before staff are eligible for consideration for promotion. The following procedure has been developed to provide further information:

If you are interested in applying for a promotion, it may be beneficial to review the following guidance documents before submitting your application:


If you wish to apply for a promotion, please complete the relevant application form from the list below:



Job Evaluation

The University of Aberdeen uses a job evaluation system (HERA) which measures the different elements of each non-clinical role within the institution. This information is used to grade roles in a fair and consistent manner.

The job evaluation process aims to:

  • Establish the relative value or size of jobs or roles
  • Produce the information required to design and maintain equitable grade and pay structures
  • Provide as objective as possible a basis for placing jobs within a grade structure
  • Enable consistent decisions to be made about grading jobs or roles
  • Ensure that the organisation meets legal and ethical equal pay for work or equal value requirements and that the legal and ethical requirements do not discriminate

Grade Structure

View the University's grade structure and salary scales.

For further information please contact your HR Partner.

Higher Education Role Analysis (HERA)

The University uses HERA as its job evaluation tool. HERA is a tool used to evaluate roles found in higher education - this process is also sometimes referred to as job analysis. Job evaluation is the process of measuring different elements of a job in order to grade it in a fair and consistent manner.

HERA involves fourteen 'elements':

  1. Communication (oral and written)
  2. Teamwork and motivation
  3. Liaison and networking
  4. Service delivery
  5. Decision making processes and outcomes
  6. Planning and organising resources
  7. Initiative and problem solving
  8. Analysis and research
  9. Sensory and physical demands
  10. Work environment
  11. Pastoral care and welfare
  12. Team development
  13. Teaching and learning support
  14. Knowledge and experience.

These elements have been designed so that roles can be analysed in such a way as to reflect the values of higher education and the aspects of those roles seen as most important.

What is HERA used for?

HERA is used to create a role description or profile and a total points score for a role. The profile is used to support recruitment, selection, training and career development. The total points score is then used to assign roles to grades or bands in the University salary structure.

Why do roles need to be analysed?

The National Framework Agreement (2006) required all higher education institutions to implement a new single spine and grading structure for all staff. To do this, a series of representative roles within each institution had to be identified and analysed to allow each institution to develop (in consultation with its recognised trade unions) an appropriate pay and grading structure.

HERA provides an analytical approach that reflects the values of the sector and provides transparency to the process.  Also, using an analysis tool such as HERA ensures that roles within the University are receiving equal pay for work of equal value.

Job Descriptions

The University has developed a job description template to gather accurate and up-to-date information about all non-clinical jobs in the University. Guidance on how to complete the form is available, including a number of worked examples (please see links below). If you experience any difficulties completing the template, please contact your HR Partner.

The template was developed and agreed in partnership with the local representatives of all the recognised campus trade unions as part of the Framework Agreement (2006). The template is laid out in such a way to allow Role Analysts to score each role and place this in the University's grade structure.

Completion/Guidance Notes

To help you complete the job description template, guidance notes are available to download by clicking the link below:

Worked Examples

A number of worked examples have been produced as guidance for completing job descriptions:

If you require further information or guidance regarding job descriptions, please contact your HR Partner.

National Academic Role Profiles

The Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES) have produced a paper providing guidance on the National Academic Role Profiles.

For more information regarding NARPs, please contact your HR Partner.


Has the Framework Agreement Affected All Staff?

The Framework Agreement included all staff with the exception of staff paid from clinical academic salary scales and a small number of staff whose terms and conditions are excluded from the JNCHES national negotiations. All new non-clinical posts under the University's terms and conditions following the Framework Agreement in 2006 have undergone a job evaluation process using HERA to grade it accordingly.

What is Job Evaluation?

Job evaluation is the process of measuring different elements of a role in order to grade it in a fair and consistent manner. HERA has been used by the University since 2006 to assist with this process.

What is HERA Used for?

HERA is used to create a role description or profile and a total points score for a role. The profile is then used to support recruitment, selection, training, performance and career development. The total points score can be used to assign roles to grades in the salary structure.

Why do Roles Need to be Analysed Using HERA?

The National Framework Agreement required all higher education institutions to implement a new single pay spine and grading structure for all staff by August 2006. To do this, a series of representative roles within each institution had to be identified and analysed before the remaining roles could be allocated into the grading structure as developed by the University (in consultation with the campus trade unions). All new non-clinical posts on the University's terms and conditions have been analysed to identify what grade this equates to. Roles are also analysed as part of the University's annual Promotions Exercise.

Blind Review

The anonymous review of promotion applications will continue within the University’s promotions exercises. In practice, this means that the first step within the promotions exercise will be a ‘blind review’ of applications by role analysts.

Please read the Guide for Anonymising Applications / Blind Review.

1. Which grades can apply for promotion throughout the year and which ones once a year?

Currently Academic promotion applications to Grades 5 and 6 are open throughout the year.  Academic promotions to Grades 7 and above are currently managed through an annual promotions exercise.

Additionally regrading applications for support staff and academic-related posts at all grades can be submitted at any time in the year.

2. Which grades require external evaluations supporting promotion application?

External evaluations are required for academic grades 8 & 9 only.

3. How many references and external evaluations are required?

The number of references depends on the grade and are as listed below:

Grade 8: Promotion to Senior Lecturer (Scholarship), Senior Research Fellow, Senior Lecturer roles

  • 3 external evaluations + 1 personal reference

Grade 9: Promotion to Reader (Grade 8), Personal Chair and Academic Related (Grade 9) roles

  • 3 external evaluations + 1 personal reference
  • 1 of 3 external evaluations (Teaching & Scholarship Track only) and 2 of 3 (Teaching & Research only) must be from individuals who can comment on the international standing of the applicant.

Personal references should come from individuals whom the applicants would normally list as a personal referee. Personal references cannot be from the applicant’s Head of School.

4. What is a Blind Review?

In a Blind Review the applicants do not indicate their names & protected characteristics – they should only use their surname and employee ID number within the application form, CV and statement of support. The initial stage of application assessment by the role analysts is anonymised.

The anonymity ceases once the Role Analysts have scored the application; the full promotions committees will see named applications. Further information can be accessed on Staff Net.

5. What is the difference between an external evaluation and personal reference?

The personal reference is subject to Blind Review and the individual submitting it should ensure that there is no reference to them by name /protected characteristics. It is the responsibility of the applicant to obtain personal reference and submit it with their application. Personal Reference cannot be from your Head of School.

The external evaluations are not part of the Blind Review process and do not require to be gender neutral as they are requested by the University on behalf of the applicant after the Blind Review. In a lot of situations, they can be international to demonstrate the international impact of the applicant’s work.

6. I have been asked to complete the Head of School Evaluation Form for individual(s) within my team(s). What should an evaluation cover/include?

As a guide, the areas that could be included within a Head of School evaluation are listed below:

  • Views on attainments and merits in relation to this possible promotion.
  • Contribution to research and scholarly activities
  • Comment on ability relative to others in the field. 
  • Comment on contributions in recognised mediums such as scholarly publications, professional journals, invited contributions to conferences and work with relevant national and/or international bodies.
  • Capacity as a teacher and general effectiveness in communicating with audiences who are not specialists in the field.
  • Any comment on contributions to professional societies or policy forming bodies (nationally and internationally).
  • Potential for a leadership abilities.
  • Contribution to the management, development or quality enhancement of courses, programmes, people or policies.
7. How do I make the personal reference gender neutral?

For the purpose of Blind Review, the personal reference (as well as the application form, CV, HoS Section) should not refer to any of the protected characteristics. This should also be reflected when referring to any groups / programmes or professional organisations, reference to protected characteristics such as gender or nationality should be removed.

8. Does a word count apply to the external evaluations or the references?


9. Is refusal of external evaluations taken into account?

Committees are advised on the number of external evaluations which were requested and the reasons given for refusal. This information is not considered as part of the decision making process.

10. If I have passed probation on the Teaching & Scholarship track; will I be required to go through a 3-year probation process if I successfully apply to switch to the Teaching & Research track?

If you successfully apply to switch from Teaching & Scholarship to Teaching & Research, a period of probation may be stipulated as a supportive measure.

Should the relevant Sub-Committee agree to the switch, the Convenor of the Sub-Committee will discuss with the relevant Head of School if a probation period would be appropriate, and if so, the length of the probation.

11. I am currently employed as a Senior Research Fellow but would like to switch career track to become a Senior Lecturer.

If, through discussion with your Line Manager, you decide that you have the right career profile to match the criteria at Level 4 on the Teaching & Research route, then you should submit an application through the promotion process.

12. What happens if I submit an application for example on the Teaching & Research track but the Role Analysts and Panel do not think that I match for promotion on this track? Is consideration given to whether I could have matched the criteria on a different track?

If the Committee believe that you may match the criteria on one of the alternative tracks then your Head of School, as part of the Committee, may discuss this with you whilst the process is ongoing so that you can consider if this is something which you would like to pursue.

13. Can I apply to switch tracks without applying for a change in grade?

Yes. For example you can apply to switch from Grade 7 Teaching & Scholarship to Grade 7 Teaching & Research.

14. Can I apply to switch tracks and a change in grade at the same time?

Yes. You can apply for promotion under a different career track from the one you are currently on.

15. Who to contact for support with application?

If you require any support with your application, please contact your HR Partner for your School.

16. Will I be informed on the progress of my application?

Applicants for promotion to Grade 7 – 9 will be notified of the outcome of their application for promotion at the earliest opportunity. If the application is successful they will be notified after the meeting of the Staff Promotion Committee. All applicants will be advised on the outcome of their applications.

17. If I am unsuccessful, can I appeal?

Yes, however the appeal process is not intended to query the judgement reached on the application for promotion. Appeals are only taken forward on the grounds of alleged procedural irregularities.