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The anatomy of an academic CV

Updated: Apr 8

You may need to submit an academic CV to apply for postgraduate courses or academic jobs and funding. The purpose of an academic CV is to demonstrate that you have the relevant academic experience and skills for your chosen opportunity or academic role. There is no page limit – although you should try to keep it concise and relevant (I recommend not to go over 2 pages).

The academic CV is similar to a standard CV, but you need to have a few extra headings such as 'research experience' and 'academic prizes'. You can find a range of academic CV templates for postgraduate applications online (e.g. University of Oxford academic CV templates) – there isn't one perfect format but remember that you need to emphasise your academics, not necessarily your previous employment and extra-curricular activities if they do not relate to the post you are applying for.

If you have limited or no published work yet, consider including headings such as ‘Works in progress’ or ‘Preparing for publication’ or highlight any projects you're currently working on under 'Current research activities'. Clearly label your works as ‘under review’ or ‘submitted’ if they are in the process of being published, but not yet accepted. If you are working on projects that you haven’t submitted yet, you could put them under another heading such as ‘Preparing for submission’. Include when and where you plan to submit them.

If you have been invited to present posters or give seminars at conferences, you could highlight this under separate headings such as ‘Academic prizes', 'Posters' and 'Oral presentations’ or ‘Conferences and Training’ – whatever headings make your CV the easiest to follow for the reader.

Here are some top tips for creating a strong academic CV for medical school:

Personal Information

Include your name, contact details, and professional title.

Start with a strong personal statement

Your personal statement should be concise and describe your background, research interests, and motivation for pursuing a postgraduate clinical research degree. It should highlight your research experience and any relevant skills you have acquired.

Highlight your academic achievements

List your academic achievements, such as academic awards, scholarships, and honors, in a prominent position on your CV (the closer to the top the better - especially publications and academic prizes).

List your research experience

If you have conducted any research projects, include them on your CV. Mention any technical skills you have that are relevant to clinical research, such as experience with statistical software, data management software, or familiarity with electronic medical records. Provide details of your level of proficiency.

Include clinical experience

List any clinical experience you have had, such as volunteering in a hospital, shadowing a physician, or participating in a medical mission trip. This demonstrates your commitment to medicine and your ability to work in a clinical setting.

Highlight your leadership experience

List any leadership positions you have held, such as serving as the president of a student organization, a tutor or mentor, or a research assistant. This highlights your ability to lead and work effectively in a team.

Tailor your CV to the opportunity (this is a GIVEN)

Read the requirements and preferences of the position to which you are applying, and tailor your CV to highlight your experiences and achievements that align with their expectations.

Keep it concise and organised

Your CV should be easy to read, organised, and concise. Use bullet points to list your experiences and achievements, and make sure your formatting is consistent throughout the document.

List your professional memberships

List any relevant professional memberships or organisations you belong to - best if specialty-specific.

Crafting a compelling academic CV tailored for applications requires attention to detail, clarity, and relevance. By incorporating these key elements and following these top tips, you can present a comprehensive overview of your academic journey, research interests, and academic rigour. Best of luck on your academic endeavors!

Full details on how to have a show-stopping academic CV full of publications and achievements + an example of my CV can be found in one of my best-selling e-books:

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