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Head of Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies

The Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies (LINCS) is part of the School of Social Sciences, one of five academic schools at Heriot-Watt University. In addition to Languages & Intercultural Studies, the School comprises the Edinburgh Business School and the Department of Psychology.

The Department of LINCS offers undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes, and has a strong international focus in both teaching and research. LINCS has excellent links and collaborative partnerships with leading business and language schools all over the world. The primary focus of the department is in the field of translation and interpreting studies, and we have developed a very distinctive profile in this area over almost 50 years. Whilst interpreting and translation remain at the forefront of our teaching and research, other areas of focus include sign language and cultural studies. LINCS is organized in seven sections: BSL, Chinese, EAP, French, German, Spanish, and Cultural Studies. The Department houses two research centres: the Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS) and the Intercultural Research Centre (IRC).

LINCS is currently looking to recruit a full-time member of staff to take on the position of Head of Department. The successful applicant will lead a small leadership team and will have overall responsibility for leading the activities of the department; they will also line manage the departmental staff team (ca. 30 FTEs). In particular, we are looking for someone who can successfully lead the growth of the department over the next few years and deliver the agreed departmental growth plan which is centred on the introduction of new programmes and increased student recruitment. The Head of Department reports to the Head of the School of Social Sciences and is a member of the School leadership team. In addition to leading the department, the successful applicant will contribute to the delivery of teaching and to either scholarship activities (Teaching & Scholarship contract) or research (Teaching & Research contract).

The post holder is required to:

Planning, Managing People and Resources

  • Exercise academic leadership for all subject area teaching, research and scholarship activities.
  • Lead the development and delivery of departmental strategy.
  • Take overall responsibility for the agreed plan to deliver growth in LINCS over the coming years.
  • Monitor closely the financial position of the department, manage budgets, and propose remedial measures where necessary.
  • Take overall responsibility for the organising and deployment of resources within LINCS.
  • Act as line manager for matters relating to the employment of staff and ensuring the work is allocated fairly, according to skills and capacity.
  • Appraise and advise staff on personal and career development plans.
  • Contribute to leadership of the School of Social Sciences.
  • Contribute to University planning and strategic development.

Learning and Teaching

  • Provide leadership in the planning, organisation and development of learning and teaching activities in the subject area.
  • Lead and participate in the design, development and delivery of a range of programmes at various levels.
  • Take a leadership role in the planning of student recruitment activities, including recruitment strategy, departmental marketing and the development of collaboration agreements with other universities.
  • Lead the regular review of programme and course content and materials, updating when required.
  • Take overall responsibility for methods of programme delivery, including adaptations in response to changing circumstances.
  • Lead the development and application of innovative and appropriate teaching techniques and material, which create interest, understanding and enthusiasm amongst students.
  • Take overall responsibility for the use of technology appropriate to areas of specialist teaching in LINCS.
  • Ensure that course design and delivery comply with the quality standards and regulations of the University and School.

Research and Scholarship

  • Working with School’s Director of Research and Directors of the department’s research centres, lead the development and implementation of research and scholarship strategy within the subject area.
  • Demonstrate leadership in research or scholarship, knowledge exchange and consultancy.
  • Lead collaborative partnerships with other educational institutions or other bodies.
  • Lead collaborative University bids for scholarship, consultancy and other additional funds, including partnerships with other Schools or institutions.
  • Make presentations or exhibitions at international conferences and other similar events, demonstrating evidence of esteem within the subject.

Communication, problem solving and decision making

  • Be routinely involved in complex and important negotiations internally and with external bodies.
  • Contribute to the communication of the wider University strategy within the Department.
  • Take overall responsibility for communications between School leadership and LINCS staff, and between the department / School and students.
  • Lead the review of and responses to student feedback, including surveys such as NSS, PTES and PRES.
  • Lead the development of responses to staff feedback and work towards ensuring an optimal staff experience.
  • Act as the final arbiter in local disputes.
  • Initiate new and original solutions to problems.

Collaboration and Networking

  • Chair and participate on internal committees and participate in decision-making and governance at department, School and University level.
  • Take a leading role in senior external groups (e.g., committees in learned societies or professional institutions, editorial boards, organising committees of international conferences, research council panels or government advisory groups).
  • Lead and develop internal and external networks to foster collaboration and share information and ideas and to promote the subject and the University.
  • Promote and market the work of the department both nationally and internationally.
  • Provide advice to external bodies.

Please note this job description is not exhaustive, and the role holder may be required to undertake other relevant duties commensurate with the grading of the post. Activities may be subject to amendment over time as the role develops and/or priorities and requirements evolve.

Requirements of the role:


  • a background in applied languages, ideally translation and/or interpreting studies
  • experience in leadership roles in higher education
  • experience of managing budgets
  • experience as a line manager
  • understanding of the UK higher education context
  • excellent leadership and communication skills
  • experience of teaching and course coordination in higher education
  • a research degree in a relevant subject
  • a track record of publications and conference presentations.


  • native or near native competence in one of the languages offered in LINCS (BSL, Chinese, French, German, Spanish), in addition to English,

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