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Head of the School of Arts University of Derby

The University of Derby seeks an experienced and talented academic to provide leadership across the School of Arts, with a commitment to foster and develop its reputation as a beacon of excellence in creative, performing and therapeutic arts.

  • Location: Derby
  • Salary: £56,445 - £74,102
  • Closing date: 12 p,m. Monday 5th September 2022

The College of Arts, Humanities and Education, at the University of Derby, offers a great student experience, always focusing on students as individuals and working hard to prepare them for the challenges of graduate employment. Courses are current, topical, relevant and designed to help students progress in their career.

We encourage collaboration, reflecting a professional real-world experience supported by a strong creative community of staff and students.

The College has three component parts:

  • School of Arts
  • School of Humanities and Journalism
  • Institute of Education

The School of Arts is a beacon of excellence in creative, performing and therapeutic arts, embracing a broad spectrum of creative practice from Fine Art to Design, Film Making to Therapeutic Arts, Fashion to Theatre, Music to Photography. The school seeks to combine the best of traditional and contemporary practice and works seamlessly between these modes, encouraging positivity, ambition and possibility.

With a strategic commitment to the creative arts, the University of Derby is seeking a new Head of the School of Arts to work collaboratively with the College’s Senior Management Team to lead, enhance and grow the academic provision, strengthen business development and ultimately the success of the School of Arts. The Head of School will ensure that programmes and academic delivery across its undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses inspire and support the College and University to achieve its wider aims, at the heart of which is the delivery of an excellent experience that meets the needs and expectations of all students and supports their future career opportunities.

As part of the College’s Senior Management Team, you will contribute to the development and success of the College, through effective strategic and operational planning of the programme portfolio, delivery and resources across the School of Arts and to position the School correctly within the wider HE marketplace.

You will provide highly effective leadership to build a community of motivated staff, inspire innovative methods of delivery, and meet the high standards expressed through the Office for Students B conditions. You will align the work and outputs of the School to University strategies in support of Learning and Teaching, Innovation and Research. You be responsible for driving and monitoring good practice and excellent outcomes across all performance measures, including graduate outcomes. With a strong enquiry-led approach, you will develop and foster academic research within the School, ensure research-informed teaching is evident in the curriculum and knowledge transfer opportunities are fully explored in line with wider strategic aims.

You will build partnerships across the institution and externally to raise the profile of the School, develop engagement strategies across business and the wider community, and will be expected to represent the University of Derby and the School of Arts to a wider audience of peers, professionals, stakeholders and partners in the UK and internationally through your leadership and research.

The postholder will be encouraged to undertake relevant personal research and will be expected to contribute to an aspect of the wider teaching programme.

Who we are looking for

Candidates must be a suitably qualified, experienced, and highly regarded academic in a discipline covered by the School of Arts. The postholder must be able to demonstrate a strong track record of successful management experience within a higher education institution, with the capability to create a high-performing and successful team operating across several disciplines. Candidates should demonstrate extensive experience of teaching, learning and assessment, as well as portfolio development, underpinned by the application of knowledge on quality assurance and enhancement policies and procedures. We are particularly interested to hear from those who have had an impact through their leadership on the development or transformation of a programme or faculty in order to enhance student experience and outcomes. As an anchor institution with a civic purpose to support the continued growth and success of the city of Derby, we are keen to hear from candidates who bring experience of community engagement and collaboration with social purpose and impact.

Ideally, candidates will have a strong track record in an area of research relevant to the School, experience of undertaking successful bids for external funding, experience of developing successful international collaborations, and demonstrate a commitment to continued professional development and engagement through membership of relevant professional bodies and fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, and other external activities that will be supported by the University.

As a leader, you will demonstrate a strong and collaborative style of communication, have a robust organisational approach towards balancing the demands of the post, role model resilience, creativity and innovation, and promote the values and ethos of the University across the School, institution and externally.

The University of Derby is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. However you identify, we actively celebrate the knowledge, experience and talents each person brings to our community. We have provided further information about our EDI practices on the accessibility section of this site.

Please contact Krissie Tilley(E: krissie@peridotpartners.co.uk | M: 07398 140818) to organise a time to speak with Dr Sophie Carney for further information.


If you would like to know more about this role please contact Dr Sophie Carney

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Welcome from David McGravie

I am delighted that you are considering applying for this role at the University of Derby.

At Derby, we have worked to build a powerful regional university that addresses the needs of our students, the region and beyond. Furthermore, as the only university in the city and county, we take our civic responsibilities seriously, working in partnership to improve the health, education and wellbeing of our community and have reaffirmed this commitment by pledging to develop a Civic University Agreement. The School of Arts is a key contributor to this work and to the wider creative arts and cultural sectors of the city. Our civic commitment is strong and is best evidenced through our active participation and engagement, with many cultural partners and stakeholders of Derby.

We are an ambitious university on an upwards trajectory, with exciting plans for the future, and the new Head of the School of Arts is a key appointment. The School of Arts sits within the wider College of Arts, Humanities and Education. The new Head of the School of Arts will join a college senior leadership team, working in partnership with the Head of Institute of Education, the Head of Humanities and Journalism and the PVC Dean.

The School of Arts is a place where talent thrives and ambitions are realised, a place that values risk taking as a key part of our educational practice, and a place that values disruption in the creative sense of the word. The School embraces a broad spectrum of creative practice from Fine Art to Design, Film Making to Therapeutic Arts, Fashion to Theatre, Music to Photography.

With a long history of UG and PGT delivery, the School engages external partners and industry, recognising the value external practice brings to the students and their future careers. The School seeks to combine the best of traditional and contemporary practice and works seamlessly between these modes, encouraging positivity, ambition, and possibility. Our students are a creative community of aspiring individuals who seek to make their mark within the creative industries, individuals unhindered by convention and creatives open to new ideas and opportunity.

We need a Head of School who can build on these strong foundations, seamlessly connecting into the arts and cultural components of the city, as well as exploring new opportunities as they arise; we need a Head of School who can build our profile and communicate our strengths to new audiences and stakeholders; and we need a new Head of School who will broaden the expertise and knowledge of the existing leadership team in the College of Arts Humanities and Education.

Thank you for your interest and time,

David McGravie
Interim PVC/Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Education

About the University of Derby

The University of Derby is a modern, innovative education provider that achieved its university status in 1992. Teaching at the Derby site actually dates back to 1851, when it was a Diocesan Institution for training teachers, so we have over 160 years of expertise in education. We have since become a University of first choice for students who want a supportive, aspirational environment where they can equip themselves for the career they choose. Our significant investment in world class facilities is building on our reputation for student-focused real-world learning in an increasingly competitive sector. Located in the heart of England, we build on our region’s heritage of innovation to provide industry-relevant, expert teaching at all levels.

Our combined higher and further education offering is spread over campuses in Derby, Buxton, Leek and Chesterfield and we have some of the best university facilities in the UK.

During the last ten years, we have invested over £200 million in facilities designed to give students the very best possible learning environment. We have more investments planned and continue to develop teaching to be innovative, stimulating and engaging.


Recent investments include:

  • £12 million STEM Centre including facilities for mechanical testing, robotics and an anechoic chamber
  • State-of-the-art £10.8 million Sports Centre
  • Immersive Interactive Simulation Suite, the only one of its kind in a University outside London
  • Forensic Training Facility with a dedicated crime scene house
  • Fashion industry facility at Chandos Pole Street
  • Industry-standard Bloomberg Financial Markets Lab

We achieve outstanding results for our teaching and research and with more than 34,000 people choosing to study with us every year, we depend on the dedication of a team of 2,200 academic and professional services staff.

Financially strong and seriously ambitious we offer our employees a family-friendly, rewarding career with lots of opportunities to progress.

We want everyone to receive the high-quality education they deserve, regardless of age, background or location. We were named University of the Year at the UK Social Mobility Awards 2020 and Higher Education Institution of the Year at the 2020 NEON (National Education Opportunities Network) Awards. And we have won the Guardian University Award 2020 for Social and Community Impact.

Challenging, interesting and constantly changing, the University of Derby is an exceptional place to learn and an incredibly rewarding place to work.


Every aspect of our University is committed to promoting equality and diversity through inclusion. We understand that in order to thrive at work, inclusion engenders a sense of belonging and we recognise that wholeness at work is key to engagement and high performance. We encourage and enable our staff to celebrate the richness of their diversity, participating in staff networks, contributing to awareness-raising and role modelling practices and behaviours consistent with our values. Throughout the year, we hold multiple events that champion equality, diversity, and inclusion; such as International Women’s Day, Women’s History Month, Black History Month, Disability History Month and LGBT History Month. We provide staff with a blended approach to staff development, offering a wealth of online and face-to-face resources, which are thought-provoking and challenging in order to ensure that staff understand their responsibilities towards equality, diversity and inclusion. Working at the University is exciting and together, we will continually strive to make the University the most inclusive place it can be.

Some examples of our accessibility provisions include:

  • Step free access to the building, all key meeting rooms and bathrooms, and an accessible workstation
  • Accessibility dogs are welcome
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats
  • Working patterns and locations can be adjusted

The University of Derby is a Disability Confident Employer, a member of the Accessible Scheme, holds a bronze Athena SWAN Charter award, is a Stonewall Diversity Champion, and won University of the Year at the UK Social Mobility Awards 2020.

See the following links for further information about the University of Derby’s commitment to encouraging diversity and championing inclusion:

If you have any further needs around accessibility, please get in touch with the advising consultant for a confidential chat on how we can best fulfil your needs.

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    Thank you for your interest in this role.

    Please download the Role Description and Person Specification and complete this Equality Monitoring Survey.

    To formally apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (ideally maximum 2 sides of A4 each) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification, including your interest and motivation in applying for this position.

    Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “University of Derby – Head of the School of Arts” into the subject field.

    For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners

    Please contact Krissie Tilley(E: krissie@peridotpartners.co.uk | M: 07398 140818) to organise a time to speak with Dr Sophie Carney for further information.

    We wish to encourage applications regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, age or religion or belief.

    All applications will be considered solely on merit.

    Disabled applicants are invited to contact us in confidence at any point during the recruitment process to discuss steps that could be taken to overcome operational difficulties presented by the role, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.

    At interview stage, candidates will be asked to provide the University with proof of their right to work in the UK and certificates for all essential qualifications. The appointed candidate will also be required to complete the University of Derby’s standard application form, which is part of their safer and fairer HR recruitment process.


    Closing date: 12 p.m. Monday 5th September 2022

    Candidates informed of outcome: TBC

    Interview date: TBC


    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

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