Writing an academic CV and cover letter

How to build your CV and covering letter to present it in a way that reflects your work and experience.

Primary page content

A good application needs raw material so build evidence whilst you are working on your PhD.  That said, there is still a need to present your experience in a relevant and accessible way.

Academic CVs

Academic CVs are broadly the same as any CV, except:

  • It’s acceptable (normal) to be longer than 2 pages
  • It includes an overview of your current research/research interests

What employers are looking for

Evidence that helps you make the shortlist will be:

  • Evidence of publications or publishing potential
  • Teaching experience (for teaching roles)
  • Collegiate behaviour (course rep, organising conferences)
  • Ability to secure funding


Contact Information
Name, address, telephone number and email address.

Research Interests
A short paragraph summarising your research (200 words).

Include all university level qualifications, your thesis title and PG/UG dissertation/project information if relevant. Also include the names of supervisors (and examiners if you have had your viva).

Broken down into:

  • Research - include any additional research experience, methodological approaches, technical skills, collaborative projects
  • Teaching - note any lecturing, seminar, tutorial or supervising experience. Give an overview of the role and responsibilities such as level of students, class sizes and subject areas
  • Administration - give details of any conferences or events you’ve organised, any committees or roles of responsibility you’ve taken on within Goldsmiths

Awards and Funding
Include funding for your PhD, prizes and grants.

Professional memberships
Of relevant associations and societies.

Give full details as you would in a bibliography.

Conference presentations and posters
Use a similar format to publications.

Choose academic referees who know you and are known in the field. Ask their permission and give them an up to date copy of your CV.

An appendix is a useful way to deal with lists of significant information - for example exhibitions, performances (for creative/practice-based disciplines) or a number of conferences. This allows you to provide a succinct overview on the first two pages without losing the detail.


The academic CV template on jobs.ac.uk is an excellent starting point. Also see examples on vitae.ac.uk.

Cover Letter and Personal Statement

Whereas the CV is a list of facts about what you have done, a cover letter or personal statement make sense of this experience in relation to the job you are applying for.

It’s useful to think of it as providing the intellectual argument for why you should be interviewed for the job.

  • Draw out elements of your CV to make a case for why you are a good teacher/researcher etc.
  • Show how your academic interests are a good fit/bring something additional to the department
  • Give an idea of your future research and publishing plans
  • Show your motivation for the subject and role
  • For personal statements structure your experience around the person specification

More guidance and examples are on jobs.ac.uk.