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Academic Departments have a central role in sustaining stimulating and collegial environments that contribute to the University being a centre of internationally renowned research and teaching excellence.

A Head of Department:

  • Acts in the best interests of the University and constructively contributes to Divisional leadership
  • Is part of the collective leadership of the University
  • Has primary responsibility for ensuring the department achieves University strategic goals in an effective and sustainable manner
  • Provides academic leadership for staff and students to develop a vibrant, diverse culture focused on research, teaching and learning, and external engagement


  1. Provide effective leadership that inspires staff and students with a shared sense of purpose and accountability, and aligns departmental activities to achieve University and divisional goals and priorities.
  2. Lead and foster excellence in research as part of ensuring that the Department actively contributes to the University's national and international reputation as a research-led University.
  3. Lead and foster excellence in research-informed teaching and the provision of an enriching student learning experience.
  4. Lead and oversee departmental external engagement activities that are relevant to local, national, and international contexts.
  5. Honour and uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi and demonstrate strong leadership in the Department to achieve the goals of the Māori Strategic Framework by identifying what the department could practically do to increase implementation.
  6. Uphold and promote equity outcomes and provide clear leadership focused on the goals of the Pacific Strategic Framework.
  7. Lead and promote a healthy, fair and inclusive department culture.
  8. Manage departmental resources responsibly to make sound decisions that align with Divisional and University priorities.

The nature and extent of activities undertaken by a Head of Department vary according to different disciplines and size of Department. It is expected that a Head of Department will:

  • continue to be involved in teaching and maintain their research while they fulfil the role.
  • be supported in their leadership role by staff within the Department as well as professional staff from across the University.

Download the Academic Head of Department Role Profile for a full description of the position (PDF)

Employment Conditions


Academic Heads of Department are senior academic staff employed by the University of Otago.

Download the Academic Head of Department Role Profile for a more detailed person specification (PDF)

Authority to appoint

Vice Chancellor.

Download Authority to Appoint Academic Staff guidelines (PDF)

Confirmation Path

Not applicable.

Salary scale

Heads are paid at the same rate as they are paid for their substantive position. Additional financial support is provided according to the Head of Department Allowance and Support Fund Guidelines.

View the Head of Department Allowance and Support Fund Guidelines

Performance and salary review

Heads are reviewed as part of the annual or biennial review process that applies to their substantive position.

Find out more about performance and salary reviews


Heads may be able to apply for a promotion that applies to their substantive position.

Find out more about academic promotions

Research and study leave

Heads may be eligible for Research and Study Leave depending on their substantive position.

Find out more about research and study leave

Employment Agreements

Heads are covered by the Employment Agreement that applies to their substantive position.

View all employment agreements

Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF)

An Evidence Portfolio may be required, depending on the Head's substantive position.

Find out more about the PBRF

Key contacts

Dan Wilson
HR Manager - Promotions & Remuneration
+64 3 479 8092

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