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Head of Department (HoD)

By University Statute, the duties of the Head of Department are:

  • To organise the teaching and research of the Department;
  • To be responsible for the proper application of funds available to the Department, and to ensure that the approved estimate of expenditure is not exceeded and that the accounts are properly maintained.

In practice, many of the day-to-day duties are delegated to others (to the Chairs of the Research, Teaching and Graduate Education Committees, and to the Departmental Administrator) and the role of the Head of Department is to initiate and maintain policies within the Department that:

  • Provide and support teaching and research of the highest quality,
  • Create a climate in which individuals at all levels can work together constructively to further their objectives.

The Head of Department also acts as a representative of the Department, in the University and in the wider academic community.

The Head of Department is a member of, and represents the Department at:

  • The Faculty Board of Biology,
  • The Council of the School of Biological Sciences.

The Head of Department has a legal obligation to implement the University Policy of Safety. This is achieved by delegation to the Departmental Safety Officer, who is assisted by the Safety Manager. The Head of Department is Chairman of the Departmental Safety Committee.

In practice, the Head of Department is ultimately responsible for many of the decisions made in the running of the Department. These include:

  • Ensuring that appropriate mechanisms are in place to support teaching of the highest quality;
  • Ensuring that the best use is made of facilities and resources to support research activity;
  • Reviewing and prioritizing staffing needs;
  • Ensuring the proper application of departmental funds;
  • Allocation of space within the Department.

The Head of Department is available for consultation, discussion or dialogue with all members of the Department. Please book an appointment with her personal secretary Ombretta Orsini via email ( or calling her on ext 48962.

Professor Alison Smith

Professor Alison Smith

Head of the Department of Plant Sciences, Head of Group

Professor Alison Smith - Read More…