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A range of academic titles can be conferred by the Division or the University. These include the title of (Full) Professor, the title of Associate Professor, and the titles of Visiting Lecturer or Visiting Professor. Professorial Merit Payments can be made to University staff who have the title of Full Professor.

The procedures and criteria for eligibility vary- some are available to non-employees, for example, whilst others are available to staff in particular grades. Note that the award of the title of (Full) Professor or of the title of Associate Professor for example does not change an individual's underlying role, duties or paygrade. Titles include:

Visiting professors and visiting lecturers 

associate professor title 

For individuals making a significant and sustained contribution to achievement of the University's goals, and who are comparable in distinction to those holding the substantive post of Associate Professor. 

Associate Professor Title can be awarded to eligible individuals in university grades 9 and 10 or to clinicians in an honorary consultant role. Nominations are considered periodically by the divisional board, and nomination is made via the Head of Department. Occasional exceptional requests to award Associate Professor title to eligible candidates upon appointment or in cases of retention may also be considered. The MPLS Procedure Document sets out the process for conferral of Associate Professor title by the Division and the criteria (which include research, teaching and citizenship aspects):

Please contact the Academic HR team leader if you need any more information. 

Professor Title

(Full) Professor title is awarded via the annual Recognition of Distinction exercise. All those employed by the University in academic or senior research roles are eligible to apply, as are other University employees who are making a significant and sustained academic contribution to the University. Criteria in research, teaching and citizenship apply, and research distinction must be at least equal to that expected of those appointed to full professorships at other leading international research universities. 

Applications to the 2020-21 exercise have now closed.

Further background about how the process runs, and (at times when a round is open) the latest Call for Applications (which includes detailed instructions on how to apply and the link to upload your application) are all available on the HR Support Recognition of Distinction page.

Outcomes from each annual round are normally finalized during the Long Vacation, but in 2021 will be finalized before the end of Michaelmas Term. Please contact the Academic HR Team Leader if you need any further information about the University's Recognition of Distinction process for conferral of Professorial title.

The MPLS Recognition of Distinction Committee for 2020-21 is:

Professor Sam Howison (Chairman), Professor of Applied Mathematics and Acting Head of MPLS Division

Professor Chris Ballentine, Professor of Geochemistry and Head of Department of Earth Sciences

Professor Mark Brouard, Professor of Chemistry and Head of Department of Chemistry

Professor Austin Burt, Professor of Evolutionary Genetics, Imperial College London

Professor Simon Clarke, Professor of Chemistry and Head of Subdepartment of Inorganic Chemistry

Professor Constantin Coussios, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Engineering Science

Professor Christine Done, Director of Research, Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, University of Durham

Professor Arnaud Doucet, Professor of Statistics, Department of Statistics

Professor Jonathan Keating, Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy, Mathematical Institute

Professor EJ Milner-Gulland, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity, Department of Zoology and incoming Head of Zoology for 2021-22

Professor Markus Mueller, Professor of Electrical Machines, University of Edinburgh

Professor George Ratcliffe, Professor of Plant Sciences and Head of Department of Plant Sciences

Professor Ian Shipsey, Henry Moseley Centenary Professor of Experimental Physics and Head of Department of Physics

Professor Alethea Tabor, Professor of Organic Chemistry, University College London

Professor Niki Trigoni, Professor of Computer Science, Department of Computer Science

Professor Angus Wilkinson, Professor of Materials (Structure/Property Relationships) and Joint Head of Department of Materials

Professor Julia Yeomans, Professor of Physics and Head of Subdepartment of Theoretical Physics


Periodically, the University holds exercises to determine the pay awards that should be made to its senior academic staff in addition to their basic salaries, on the basis of their academic distinction. These are known as Professorial Merit Payments (under previous procedures these payments have been known as Professorial Distinction Awards).  Criteria in leadership and Citizenship, Teaching and Research apply, and it is expected that applicants will have exceeded the criteria for conferral of the title of Full Professor, their work and achievements having progressed since that time.

All University employees (in any type of non-clinical role) who hold the title of Full Professor, or whose post is a Statutory Professorship or Statutory Readership, are eligible to apply.  

More information about the process and criteria for professorial merit payments

Please contact the Academic HR team leader if you need any further information about the University's Professorial Merit Pay processes.


This page contains information on the award of titles. Read information about processes for appointing academic staff and appointing heads of department and about processes for academic staff in post. If you have a query about academic staffing that is not answered by the documents on these pages, please contact the Academic HR Team.