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General points

The main point to be aware of when writing an academic CV is that you should obviously focus on your academic achievements and devote less space to your work experience. Your educational history should be the first section. List in chronological order all of the relevant courses you took as an undergraduate, giving special prominence to the ones you got good grades in. Also give details of any research projects, dissertations, or extended essays you have done. Include any relevant interests; for example, that you were president of the maths club as an undergraduate.

In your covering letter explain why you chose this particular university over others—its multicultural ethos, or excellent research reputation, perhaps-and what attracted you to that particular postgraduate programme. Demonstrate your real enthusiasm for the subject, and how you have had a long-running interest in it. Show that you have read around the subject and are aware of its wider implications, as well as any exciting recent developments.

Postdoctorate CVs

If you are applying for a postdoctorate position, you will also need to include any experience gained as a postgraduate student. For this reason, academic CVs for research posts may well be longer than the normal two sides of A4.

Describe your research interests. Say who your supervisor was and what areas you worked in.

Include any scholarships, bursaries or other sources of funding that you were awarded. Being able to compete successfully for funding is a valuable skill.

List the conferences you attended, or even presented at, to demonstrate commitment to your field.

Explain any technical procedures that you are now proficient in, or analytical techniques, such as statistical analysis, that you have learnt. Only include details about your first degree if relevant, otherwise simply state the university, class achieved, and maybe summarise your dissertation. Give a synopsis of your PhD thesis, possibly in an appendix.

How to write an academic CV

Transferable skills

The kinds of skills acquired as a postgraduate are highly sought-after both in the commercial and academic worlds. Subheadings you might like to add include:

  • Management (eg. project management);
  • Administration;
  • Organisation (eg. time management, timetable organisation);
  • Communication (eg. discussions with supervisors, giving presentations, writing reports);
  • Teaching experience

Publications and references

Depending on how many publications you have, either include them all under a bibliography subheading, or list a selection of your most important publications along with a note saying that a full list is contained in an appendix attached to the CV. List publications in reverse chronological order (i.e. most recent first). You may want to break the bibliography down into subheadings such as published, in press, conference proceedings, etc.

Giving more than two references is standard for a postdoctorate application; one or more from your postgraduate degree, and one from another individual who can comment on your personal qualities as well as your academic performance.