The University aims to give postgraduate research (PGR) students the best possible opportunity for personal and career development including through the provision of teaching opportunities. Teaching and demonstrating to others provides students with an opportunity to develop a range of personal skills, and can also reinforce PGR students’ own knowledge of their subject. In addition, teaching experience is vital for students intending to pursue an academic career path. The University is committed to ensuring transparency and equity in the offering of teaching opportunities to PGR students.
22.214.171.124 Minimum and maximum levels of teaching opportunities to be offered
The University encourages departments and faculties to commit to providing at least minimum levels of teaching opportunities for PGR students and indicate what these might be. However this will vary significantly by subject area and the University cannot guarantee teaching opportunities as part of the research programme.
The primary focus for all students should be their research, and so the amount of teaching offered and undertaken will vary at the individual level. Factors which need to be considered when attempting to identify minimum and maximum levels of teaching opportunities for students at an individual level include:
- whether or not the student has reached an appropriate stage in his or her research
- Research Council guidelines
- the views of individual supervisors
- the balance required between providing opportunities for teaching experience and placing too much responsibility on PGR students
Any decision about the provision of teaching opportunities for a student should be made with the aim of serving the best interests of the student in the context of observing the teaching quality requirements of the collegiate University.
Stage of research
Students should normally have completed (or had waived) transfer of status before participating in any teaching activities. It is not appropriate for Probationer Research Students (PRS) to take on substantial teaching commitments such as several weeks of tutorials, (although first year doctoral students may act as demonstrators, take translation classes, support academic study skills development etc).
The University’s explicit policy is that no PGR student should be allowed to teach without some form of initial training. At the very minimum, students should undertake a 'Preparation for learning and teaching at Oxford' course, which is usually a half or full day in duration and is provided by divisions and departments/faculties. Students may also go on to complete the ‘Developing learning and teaching’ course, which gives students (usually over the course of one term) the opportunity to: be assigned a teaching mentor; participate in teaching seminars; and undertake a limited number of teaching hours (advice is a minimum of seven contact hours) in order to compile a teaching portfolio for accreditation with the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA). These courses are generally hosted in the department, faculty or division with support from the Oxford Learning Institute.
Supervisor guidance and permission
Before participating in any teaching, students should first seek agreement from their supervisor, and advice as to whether their research is making good progress and they are expected to complete on time. The supervisor’s views should be recorded on the Graduate Supervision System.
Research Councils and other funding bodies may impose a restriction on the number of hours’ teaching a student may do each week. Departments and faculties may also impose similar restrictions, which usually involve a limit of 5-6 hours per week (including preparation time).
Teaching by PGR students will generally only be at undergraduate level, though there may be a small number of circumstances in which teaching at other levels may be appropriate.
126.96.36.199 Practice in departments and faculties
In order to offer teaching opportunities to students, departments and faculties are asked to ensure the following is in place, and made known to students:
|Promotion of opportunities
- clear and widely accessible mechanisms by which opportunities for PGR teaching are
advertised and fairly distributed
- a widely accessible place where individual students are able to indicate their interest
in undertaking such teaching
- a statement for prospective and current students on the likely availability of teaching
- a statement of a department or faculty's guidance on the maximum number of hours
of teaching which it would expect PGR students to undertake
- a statement of a department or faculty's provision of training for teaching making clear
that students are not permitted to undertake teaching until they have participated in training.
Where possible training should be undertaken under the auspices of the central university scheme
for the development of teaching, see Teaching and Learning (NEW LINK TO OLI)
- a pointer to any guidance provided by the faculty/department to assist those undertaking teaching
- a mechanism to ensure that, where the teaching/demonstrating is undertaken on behalf of the
department or faculty, a simple written statement setting out the expectation on both sides (hours of work,
conditions, length of contract, and rates of pay) will be provided for the student(s) concerned, and the support
available within the department/faculty
- mechanisms for liaising with colleges to ensure an appropriate balance of teaching by senior staff and by
graduate students is maintained for programmes of tutorials centrally organised by faculties and departments
|Monitoring and mentoring
- an indication in the form of mentoring/ supervision and monitoring/ review which will be provided by PGR
students who teach on behalf of the department/ faculty (which could be via supervisors, course co-ordinators,
subject tutor or Director of Undergraduate Studies, or through being part of a larger teaching team)
- the procedure by which the faculty/department would deal with complaints about the quality of teaching
provided by graduate students