Doctoral Academic Leadership Initiative (DALI)

The Doctoral Academic Leadership Initiative gives mid-phase doctoral candidates a head start in their academic future.

The DALI presents a series of fortnightly seminars over two semesters, with a focus on leadership in academia, teaching, and research.

Candidates are subject to a competitive selection process where priority is given to mid-phase doctoral students who have completed their provisional goals, though, due to the high proportion of applications, meeting this criteria does not guarantee you a place.

Tuition is funded by the Academic Career Exploration Scholarship. Please note that your supervisor will need to endorse your application and will be notified when you apply for the programme through the Scholarships Office.

Candidates apply for DALI by submitting an application for the Academic Career Exploration Award (ACE) only, there are no additional applications to complete. ACE applications are open from 19 August to 30 September. Applications for DALI 2020 are now closed.

The structure of the module

The DALI has three major elements:

  1. Orientation day sets the scene of academia life, and introduces students to module participants and recent University alumni.
  2. Fortnightly seminars cover key aspects to prepare students for an academic career covering topic areas highlighting leadership in academia, research, teaching and professionalism.
  3. Presentation skills workshop is optional but encouraged.

Orientation day

Date TBA
This day will commence with a panel discussion with leading University of Auckland academics, from a range of disciplines, along with recent University of Auckland alumni embarking on academic careers. The topic will be: ‘What does it mean to be an academic in the 21st Century?’.

Following the panel discussion, module participants will have the opportunity to work in small clusters with alumni from their own or a related discipline on ‘what do I need to do now to prepare for an academic career?’.

Goals for the orientation day:

  • To encourage and inspire aspirant academics
  • To enable participants to meet the rest of the cohort and the conveners
  • To make firm goals for what the participants hope to achieve in the programme
  • To map out demands of the programme with doctoral study commitments
  • To discuss goals for future careers in academia
  • To begin networking

Fortnightly seminars

Seminars are held between 1 - 4pm at:
Level 2 Fisher Building
18 Waterloo Quadrant
City Campus

Semester One

Leadership in academia:

  • Becoming an academic
    This seminar will provide a broad picture of academia in the 21st century and will describe three facets of academic life: research, teaching, service. We will discuss and then respond to recent research literature on the current status and future direction of academia: what does the future hold for new academics?

  • Academic citizenship
    This seminar will focus on understanding the university as an organisation, including its structure, the role and purpose of university committees (in departments, faculties, and centrally), and the key policies that impact on research and teaching. What opportunities do you have now to be active citizens?

  • The research / teaching nexus
    New Zealand legislation stipulates that university teaching has to be research-informed and, increasingly, that lecturers are research active in their field. This seminar will encourage and assist participants in conceptualising the strong links between the two strands of teaching and research.


  • Research profile
    In this seminar we focus on the shift from conceptualising a research or PhD project to the articulation of a research profile. Researchers need to be able to articulate their overall research platform in a variety of instances – when applying for research funding, in job applications, in accounting for research activity over a period of time (such as in the Performance Based Research Fund, or when applying for continuation or promotion). The seminar will provide strategies for: developing a long-term research plan for a career; understanding the PBRF (and its international equivalents), its definition of research and contributing to the research environment.

  • Publishing: books and articles 
    A core activity of a successful researcher is publication. In this session, we will discuss the variety of publications a new researcher should consider (journal articles, book chapters, monographs) but will focus primarily on writing articles for journals, with particular emphasis on the review process, understanding the roles of editors and reviewers, and responding to reviewers.

  • Broader dissemination
    A key skill in the presentation of research (and in teaching) is oral presentation. This seminar will discuss the ways in which researchers can contribute to the academic conversation, network, and present at international forums. We will also reflect on the importance of engaging with the general public through the media.

  • Presentation skills workshop
    In this intensive full-day workshop you will get critical feedback on your presentation style from an expert in the field and from your peers.


Inter-semester break: Tuesday 30 June - Friday 17 July 2020


Semester two


  • Teaching: performance
    The focus of this session will be the performance element of teaching, and will tie in with the previous session on presenting research and the full-day workshop. There will also be a comparative discussion of small group and large group teaching – are there different rules of engagement?

  • Reflective practice / creating a teaching profile
    In this class we'll discuss the purpose of teaching evaluation and consider some effective methods, including forms of student evaluation, and peer-observation. We will also introduce ideas of reflective practice in teaching.

  • Scholarship of teaching and learning
    Following the previous session, this aims to outline recent research literature in the scholarship of teaching and learning and will address issues relating to assessment, theories of how people learn, issues of pedagogy, and ideas about developing teaching philosophy.

  • Designing a course
    This session aims to put the theory into practice. Course design involves combining an understanding of pedagogical issues, and theories of learning and assessment, with disciplinary knowledge and research expertise. Participants will use the session to begin to shape an undergraduate course outline (in their disciplinary field) to be completed during the final weeks in consultation with the conveners.


  • Writing a professional image
    Representing oneself in applications for funding, for postdocs or for academic jobs is a skill that can be learned. This session aims to focus on developing this skill with a focus on practical outcomes for future applicants.

  • Future mapping: becoming leaders
    (includes graduation ceremony)
    This session will reprise initial discussions around what it means to be an academic in the 21st century with a focus on leadership. We will focus on what plans need to be made for achieving a successful academic career (considering all three facets of academic life: research, teaching and service); drafting the ideal CV (the participant in 2 years); understanding the system of promotion and continuation, and the academic scale; and planning for and working toward long-term goals.

Contact us

Zoë Pollard
Academic Programmes Admin
Phone: +64 9 923 8356