Policy for assistant professors at Arts


An academic career often begins with employment as an assistant professor or postdoc. In 2013 the Ministry of Higher Education and Science changed the structure of academic positions to mark a distinction between employment as an assistant professor and employment as a postdoc (“Memo on the structure of positions of academic staff at universities” 28.06.2013). With a view to ensuring the transparency and cohesion of academic career paths, in the same year the university adopted guidelines for the use of a tenure-track system. An assistant professorship is a position in further education primarily involving research and research-based teaching. Such appointments include improving the educational qualifications of assistant professors to equip them to apply for associate professorships at AU and other universities/colleges. It is possible to be employed as an assistant professor for a maximum total of eight years, with the seniority gained at other universities being included in this. The position of postdoc is an independent, fixed-term position lasting no more than four years which primarily involves research. The position of postdoc does not in itself qualify you for appointment as an associate professor. 

Postdocs/assistant professors/tenure-track assistant professors

As a basic rule, the following points apply to young researchers starting an academic career at the Faculty of Arts:

  • Postdocs are generally advertised as two-year positions in open, international advertisements.
  • Assistant professorships are generally advertised as three-year positions in open, international advertisements.
  • In special circumstances, assistant professorships can be extended for up to one year.
  • In exceptional circumstances and providing the recruitment situation permits this, assistant professorships can be advertised as tenure-track positions. 

Tenure-track positions (please also see AU’s tenure track policy):

  • Assistant professorships can only be advertised under the tenure-track system subject to the staffing plan of the school/centre concerned and based on clear, academically founded reasons. Tenure-track advertisements are subject to the approval of the dean.
  • Tenure-track assistant professorships are advertised as permanent positions, with the transition to associate professorships taking place without being advertised (subject to the provision of a positive associate professor assessment).
  • Tenure-track assistant professors are expected to complete an associate professor assessment no later than the end of their fifth year of employment. The associate professor assessment committee for tenure-track positions must comply with the rules applying to ordinary associate professor assessments.
  • Tenure-track assistant professors are subject to the same demands and expectations as assistant professors in fixed-term positions. 

Faculty policy for assistant professors and postdocs

The faculty’s policy is to strive to ensure that all subject areas regularly recruit assistant professors and postdocs as far as this is possible. Our heads of school and heads of department are expected to use their staffing plans to maintain a sensible balance in their junior researchers. This applies both to the balance between postdocs and assistant professorships, and to junior researchers in relation to all the tenured staff at the school concerned. The heads of school are responsible for allocating the necessary resources to competence development (the teacher training programme for assistant professors) for junior researchers. In connection with their staff development dialogues or career discussions, schools must also offer assistant professors and postdocs career advice. 

Research (postdocs/assistant professors/tenure-track assistant professors)

Assistant professors and postdocs are expected either independently or in collaboration with others to carry out one or more new academic task/project which differs from their previous major works (their PhD dissertations, for instance). Several of these publications are expected to be subject to international peer review. Assistant professors/postdocs are also expected to focus on presenting their research, developing international networks, participating in international conferences, and visiting research institutions outside Denmark for short or long periods of time. Assistant professors and postdocs are also expected to contribute to applications for external research funding. The annual staff development dialogue should include a discussion of how these tasks can actually be performed, for instance in relation to international research visits, courses providing qualifications in research and project management, research applications, publications and presentation/communication. Assistant professors and postdocs are covered by the minimum requirements of the research supervision process. All assistant professors will be granted a research semester (a semester with no teaching obligations) during their three-year employment, pursuant to the faculty’s agreement on working hours (Arbejdstidsaftale på Arts af 17. december 2017). The timing of this research semester should be arranged by the assistant professor, the head of department and the director of studies concerned. 

Teaching (assistant professors/tenure-track assistant professors)

Assistant professors must provide academically and educationally relevant and cohesive teaching in accordance with the faculty’s current agreement on working hours. Like associate professors, assistant professors are expected to teach independently organised courses and take part in team-based teaching in collaboration with colleagues. Assistant professors are also expected to take part in the development of teaching as well as performing the tasks involved in examination, co-examination, evaluation and coordination. Assistant professors must complete the teacher training programme for assistant professors and be prepared to document their teaching qualifications in a teaching portfolio, for instance in accordance with the Guidelines for applicants to academic positions as professors, associate professors or assistant professors/postdoc at the Faculty of Arts.

Plan for assistant professors/assistant professors with tenure

All assistant professors will be given a supervisor when they are appointed. This supervisor and the head of department must work with the assistant professor to draw up a plan for the duration of their employment (covering both research and teaching). This plan is dynamic and may be adjusted during the period concerned.