Staff Handbook: 3.3.3 Tutoring and Demonstrating


1. Categories of Tutors/Demonstrators

1.1 1. Teaching Associates

Teaching Associates (TAs) are appointed and paid for by the School. The intention is that they are available for tutoring and demonstrating duties for 25% of their time, leaving 75% for research.

The School currently interprets "25% of their time" as follows:

  • 188 hours for Full-Time students (3 years)
  • 288 for Part-Time students (4 years)

This can be spread evenly over the two Semesters (i.e. for full-time students about 8-10 hours per week for 22-24 weeks), or could be concentrated in one Semester (i.e. about 14-15 hours per week for 11-12 weeks).

In additon to Teaching Associates, the School also appoints five Senior Teaching Associates to carry out additional responsibilities. These students will be paid an additional sum and will be registered as 75% part-time research students and will thus be expected to complete in 4 years rather than the normal 3 years.

While the School naturally wishes to ensure that Teaching Assistants fulfil their hour commitment, it also wishes to ensure that they complete their PhDs on time. To this end, the Research Students Tutor must authorize all tutoring/demonstrating allocations to TAs; authorization is normally automatic but must not be taken for granted.

TAs who are writing up, and hence being paid hourly rather than as a TA, are treated the same as other research students who are writing up. In particular, the number of hours they may work per year is reduced to 180: see §2 below.

1.2. Other Research Students

Although TAs are research students, in this document the term 'research student' normally means someone who is not a TA. Research students who receive no funding from the School are not obliged to undertake tutoring/demonstrating. Where the School funds a research student, in whole or in part, it may include such duties as a condition of receiving funding.

Full-time research students, however funded, must not undertake more than 6 hours of tutoring/ demonstrating per week. (This includes preparation as well as contact hours.) The restriction to 6 hours a week does not apply when registered as writing-up.

It is important that research students do not allow themselves to be distracted from their research. To this end, the Research Students Tutor must authorize all tutoring/demonstrating allocations to research students; authorization is normally automatic but must not be taken for granted.

1.3 MSc Students

It is often appropriate for students on the specialist MSc programmes to undertake some demonstrating. This must not exceed 6 hours per week; less will usually be appropriate, in view of the intensive nature of an MSc programme.

It is important that MSc students do not allow themselves to be distracted from their studies. Permission to undertake demonstrating is normally automatic, but may be withheld by the Director of Postgraduate Studies.

1.4 Undergraduate Students

Second, third and fourth year undergraduates may undertake some demonstrating work for modules taught in earlier years. This must not exceed 6 hours per week. The duties and responsibilities required of undergraduate students will be significantly less than those appropriate to postgraduate students.

It is important that undergraduate students do not allow themselves to be distracted from their studies. Permission to undertake demonstrating is normally automatic, but may be withheld by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

1.5 Non-students

Non-students employed by the School for tutoring and demonstrating duties, which includes TAs and other research students who have completed, will normally be employed as Tutors and paid accordingly.

2. Payment for Tutoring/Demonstrating

Three levels of tutoring/demonstrating operate within the School.

  • Small Group Tutors must be TAs or other research students. Any payment will be at the University-determined small-group teaching rate.
  • Postgraduate Demonstrators may be TAs, other research students or MSc students. Any payment will be at the University-determined postgraduate demonstrator rate.
  • Undergraduate Demonstrators will be paid at the University-determined undergraduate demonstrator rate.

The exact hourly rate of pay may vary annually; up-to-date rates are available from the School Operations Manager.

Note that there are two separate limits on the number of hours worked where payment is on an hourly basis:

  • In order not to interfere with their studies, undergraduate, MSc and full-time research students may not normally undertake more than 6 hours of tutoring/demonstrating in any one week.
  • Although writing-up TAs, other research students and non-students may exceed this weekly limit, no-one can be paid for more than a total of 180 hours in a University financial year.

The allowed or recommended hours per year or per week include all activities as appropriate for the category of tutor/demonstrator, e.g.

  • time-tabled tutoring or demonstrating
  • preparation (which includes not only preparing for tutoring/demonstrating sessions, but preparing exercises, documentation, etc.)
  • marking
  • being present at office hours defined for seeing students individually (even if no students actually come)
  • seeing students individually at other times (although this should normally be avoided).

For demonstrating, the School will normally pay for only one hour of preparation per one hour class, regardless of how many times it is repeated. Thus if a demonstrator is involved in two duplicated one hour exercise classes per week, the School will normally pay for three hours per week in total.

Preparation time for tutoring should be agreed with the module coordinator.

3. Duties of Tutors/Demonstrators

The exact responsibilities which tutors/demonstrators can undertake is not easy to define, and some flexibility is essential. The Code of Practice on the Teaching and Academic Support of Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught Students by Postgraduate Teaching Assistants and Undergraduates is the definitive guide. Some general principles are:

  • The lecturer providing the module is responsible for all quality assurance issues relating to the module and cannot devolve this responsibility, even when tutors/demonstrators provide part of the content, delivery or assessment of the module.
  • Demonstrating (e.g. running exercise or laboratory classes or providing help desk cover in labs) and marking continuous assessment are the 'normal' duties expected, and these should be the only duties of Undergraduate and MSc Demonstrators.
  • Undergraduate Demonstrators should normally be supervised by at least one Tutor, Postgraduate Demonstrator or member of academic staff. Where this is not practicable (e.g. running a help desk), there should be clear arrangements in place for Undergraduate Demonstrators to refer problems to such a supervisor.
  • TA and research student Demonstrators can also be asked to provide extra classes and 'office hours' for a module.
  • Tutors can be asked to plan, prepare and deliver exercises and laboratory classes.
  • Given a detailed syllabus, Tutors can reasonably be asked to teach a small number of topics within a module, provided the module provider takes steps to monitor the quality of provision (how this was done should be specified in the Module Completion Report). Teaching a complete module is expressly forbidden.
  • Tutors and postgraduate Demonstrators are limited in the amount of assessment they are allowed to undertake, other than for Year 1 undergraduate modules. Each individual piece of assessment must not exceed more than 10% of the overall mark for the module and the total must not exceed 30% of the overall mark of the module. Undergraduate demonstrators may not undertake assessment. Any departure from these restrictions must be approved in advance, via the Head of Academic Programmes.
  • Tutors, TAs and research student Demonstrators can mark examination scripts within the limits noted above, but the Module Examiner has formal responsibility and must be able to demonstrate how the quality of the assessment process has been assured. MSc and Undergraduate Demonstrators may not mark examination scripts. Examination marking will be paid for at the Postgraduate Demonstrator rate.

Best practice for examination marking by demonstrators:

  • A detailed marking guide should be written by the Module Examiner(s).
  • Marking should take place in the presence of the Module Examiner(s).
  • A demonstrator should mark one question or set of connected questions rather than a subset of papers.

Module Examiners are required to justify any departure from best practice in writing to the Head of Quality Assurance.