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A shouty lady

There are five types of academic. Get to know them (but not too closely).



The ones who inspire you to get out of bed for a nine o’ clock lecture, or to actually go and see that exhibition at the British Museum before it closes. They’re fun and engaging and use Avatar to explain complex psychoanalytic theory, or ‘Gangnam Style’ parodies to elucidate the finer details of intellectual property law. They do cool, non-academic things during holidays, like take their rock band on a tour of Cuba. If you’re in any way attracted to them, they default to the category below…




These are Lecturers/Tutor/Supervisors I’d Like to Fancy. (Other variants of the acronym exist.) Invariably married with children or gay – whichever is less convenient for you – and not attractive in real terms, this is magnified by their drab surroundings. They do dull things during the holidays like redecorate the bedroom, and when they tell you in unnecessary detail about this, you wonder if it’s some sort of come-on. Often mistaken for mentors, any work ethic is aesthetically, not academically, motivated.


Wispy white of grey hair; corduroy jackets with mismatching suede elbow patches; leather briefcase; resistance to technology and punctuality; deep-set dislike for the rest of the university administration. Often double up as mentors, but have tenure. Whispered about as hero or idol: ‘Apparently he used to be a freedom fighter in South America… is the world’s leading expert on a particular kind of snail,’ etc. The ultimate bluff is to be seen having a drink with them, preferably a malt whisky.




Not to be confused with oldies, these are the faculty members with absolutely no stage presence, making it irrelevant whether or not they have anything interesting to say. Nobody knows what they do during their holidays as they’ve never explained it comprehensibly. The only useful thing about a mumbler is that you can legitimately mumble utter rubbish back at them.


Neither inspiring, attractive, endearing nor easy to hoodwink; in other words, few redeeming qualities. Spend their holidays researching their niche subject. Prone to giving too much attention to the annoying know-all who arrives five minutes early and yet saves their question (which they already know the answer to) for the last five minutes of the class. There’s a reason for this: they used to be them.



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