Day in the Life of an Academic #4: No, I am not on holiday

Classes ended last week and, already, I have lost count of the number of times someone asked if / said that I am now on holidays. So, I thought I should do a “day in the life” post, to give you a glimpse of what an academic gets up to outside of term time.


Here we go. This is what happened on Monday – the first working day after the end of the term.


My alarm went off at 6h30m am. I confess that it was really hard to get out of bed as I had stayed up until around midnight on Sunday… working. What was I doing, you ask? Well, I was preparing for a meeting on Monday, and answering students’ queries about their assignment, which is due on Wednesday.


Anyway, as I was saying, I got up at 6h30m, grabbed some tea, answered another question about the assignment and, then, sat down to do some work on a paper that is due before Christmas. As I had such a busy day ahead, and I find it hard to write after long meetings, this was my only chance to get some quality writing done.


I stopped writing at 8h30m, had a quick shower and breakfast, and left home at 9ish to join my colleagues for a meeting to look at our postgraduate marketing offer. We regularly review our teaching portfolio (content, delivery and assessment) to reflect the changing needs of employers, and the evolving profile of our students. And, on Monday, we were focusing on the postgraduate offer. We are going for a revalidation and, as you can see from this picture, there is quite a lot of work to be done between now and January 15th.


We broke out at 1pm, and enjoyed a Christmas lunch.


Then, at 3 pm, I had a meeting with one of my PhD students, to go through the pilot interviews he did for his study, discussed a conference paper he had drafted, and planned the next stage of his data collection.


I left campus at 4pm, and headed home. I was back at my desk at 4h50m, and answered a couple more student queries and various e-mails. Then, I did a bit more work on the paper. By 6 pm I had made all the changes I wanted to do on the paper and, hence, I e-mailed it to my co-author. I, then, spent about 10 minutes clearing my desk and putting this paper’s file away.


While dinner was cooking, I reviewed the files of the four PhD candidates that I was interviewing the following day. Then, after dinner, I answered a few more e-mails and, then, prepared for a meeting scheduled for the following day, to prepare the projects that our students will be working on in the next semester. The students will work in teams, on live projects, which requires quite a lot of planning on our part to, first, secure the projects and, second, ensure that they are comparable in difficulty.


At 21h30m I called it a day.


So, as you see, the term may have ended but… no, I am not on holiday. There is still a lot of work to do outside of term time. And if you are wondering what the rest of the ‘holidays’ will look like, here is a snapshot of what I must get done before classes start again at the end of January:

  • Mark assignments for two modules;
  • Write up annual report for the MSc Marketing;
  • Preparation for the programme revalidation (as discussed above);
  • Prepare a new module that I am teaching next semester. It is a brand new module, so it will require considerable development work;
  • Secure five live projects for student teams (as mentioned above), and write up the assignment briefs;
  • Give feedback on two dissertations;
  • Give feedback on conference paper that my PhD student is preparing;
  • Review journal paper;
  • Write two conference papers (due January 10th and 12th, respectively);
  • Write one journal paper (due January 14th);
  • Write a project report;
  • Continue working on research proposal for sharenting project.




I am sure academia is not the only profession suffering from an unfair stereotype. What do you wish people knew about your job?

8 thoughts on “Day in the Life of an Academic #4: No, I am not on holiday

  1. I really love reading your posts in Day in the Life of an Academic series. I’m amazed that you could really do so much every day. So productive! I wish I can accomplish half of what you can. Hehe! I wish people who are not in academia will stop asking if we get long ‘school’ holiday being an academic. Students get long ‘school’ holiday but never the academics. Haha!


      1. You got that right! I guess no choice on that because we generally have large number of students per intake for undergraduate. An average 600 students per intake and depending on which programme I handle to determine my teaching and marking workload. Sometimes we have to help others in marking workload too if there are a lot of students. I agree teaching is tiring but it’s kind of satisfying too.


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