Academic Career Planning and Leadership (ACLA)

ACLA (Academic Career Planning and Leadership) is a multidisciplinary course designed for postdoctoral researchers for supporting career planning, securing project funding, and building a research group.

ACLA course is targeted to post-doctoral researchers who are launching their independent researcher career and are thinking about building their own research group. This course will help you to:

  • conceptualise and develop your own career trajectory/horizon for the coming 5 years
  • plan how to build your own research group and learn academic leadership skills
  • map out opportunities and schedules for research funding
  • build multidisciplinary networks inside UH
  • learn to make full use of the UH research services and infrastructure

We will discuss career planning and trajectories, strategic mapping of research horizons, funding opportunities/challenges, building and leading a research group, project management, social impact issues and publication strategies, data management and research ethics. Guest speakers will link these practical matters to discussing the larger thematic horizons of social sciences and humanities, such as well-being, climate change challenges, datafication, security, cultural interaction. We will provide a constructive, interdisciplinary work environment and wide range for expertise to support your efforts.

For more information contact Risto Kunelius or Pekka Mäkelä

Apply for the course in 2024–2025.

Past experiences from the course

Academic year 2022–2023

Adriana Luna-Fabritius (PhD, Vice-President of the European Society for the History of Political Thought) found ACLA as one of the most useful courses taken at the University of Helsinki. Read more experiences about the 2022–2023 course and a trip to Brussels here.

The best thing was to get in touch with course leaders and learn more about the possibilities of applications that we can do and how to become leaders of our own projects.

Academic year 2021–2022

University Researcher Eljas Oksanen says the course was useful for receiving information for an academic career, as well as for peer support from other early career researchers, and a sense of community. Read more about Oksanen's experience of the 2021–2022 course.


All the presenters spoke openly about their personal experiences and that’s the most valuable information one can get.

Academic year 2020–2021

The course was first arranged in the academic year 2020–2021. Read more about the experiences from the course here (in Finnish).

Being a very good researcher doesn't automatically mean being a good research group leader.