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Teaching assistants 2016-2017

What does the role of teaching assistant involve?

Teaching assistants (TAs) support student learning. This involves explaining concepts, marking work and helping with a wide range of teaching activities.

TAs do an important job, and we expect them to take it seriously. Working as a TA provides valuable experience, by developing teaching, team-working and organisational skills.

An overview of the kind of duties TAs may carry out are provided in the Faculty job description.

Eligibility and requirements

  • TAs must be legally eligible for paid employment in the UK.
  • All categories of students are eligible to be TAs but note:
    • The depth of subject knowledge required to teach students studying an HE degree means that in most cases TAs will be required to hold a masters degree and be studying a postgraduate research qualification, e.g. a PhD.
    • Due to the symbiotic benefit of studying and teaching in the same field the appointment of students of Computer Science will be favoured over students studying other disciplines.
    • In the event of failure to fill a TA post from within Computer Science a TA from another school may be appointed.

Payment and hours of work (2014/15 hourly rates)

TAs are paid for their work at an hourly rate according to their experience.

Experience Incremental point Hourly rate
1st year Point 1 £14.02
2nd year Point 2 £14.44
3rd year Point 3 £14.87
4th year Point 4 £15.31
5th year Point 5 £15.77
6th year Point 6 £16.24
  • TAs receive a zero-hours contract of employment from HR and are paid for the hours worked at the end of each month. If you have any questions about your contract please contact HR.
  • Some PhD students may be required to undertake a number of (paid) hours teaching as part of their funding agreement. Your offer letter will say whether this applies to you. If it does, please fill in the application form, and make sure you are available for work during the teaching periods.
  • It is essential that all TAs keep a timesheet, which should be signed by the relevant lab supervisor, and handed in to the Student Support Office at the end of each month.
  • Many TAs undertake work only during timetabled hours. Duties may also include activities, such as marking, outside of timetabled hours. TAs will be paid at the hourly rate for such duties.
  • For every 5.35 hours of teaching completed TAs are eligible for 1 hour of holiday equivalent (which equates to an additional hour's pay).
  • TAs can also be paid for up to two hours of time spent preparing for teaching (see 'Training and lab preparation').
  • You must attend all teaching sessions that are assigned to you. If you cannot attend for a good reason, please try to make alternative arrangements as soon as possible (see 'Missing a class').

Training and lab preparation

All TAs must complete the Faculty TA training course as soon as possible, and no later than the end of their first year of teaching. Payment for attending this course can not be claimed.

TAs are there to help students, so it is important that they are able to explain the subject matter, and fully understand the teaching materials. Make sure you fill in the application form accurately, and are up to date on the skills and technologies used in the lab.

TAs are expected to be in labs and available to work promptly from the moment the lab begins. To ensure that they are present from the beginning TAs are advised to arrive five minutes in advance of the lab.

The lab supervisor is expected to provide TAs with teaching materials in good time to prepare for labs and discuss any problems.

TAs are expected to prepare for labs in their own time (i.e. without payment) by reading the lab material and ensuring they meet the skills requirement to support the course unit.

Lab supervisors are expected to explain what is required of their TAs and provide opportunity to discuss the work. It is recommended this is achieved by holding group meetings for which TAs are paid (up to the budget of 2 hours per TA per course unit). If this method of preparation is unsuitable for a particular unit course the course leader is at liberty to spend the equivalent budget in an alternative mode of preparation.

If you are not clear about what you are expected to do, let the lab supervisor know as soon as possible - it is vital that you have a good understanding of the teaching materials, so you can support the students and mark accurately. It is also a good idea to speak to TAs who have worked on the course unit before, and may be able to offer you advice based on 'hands-on' experience.

Missing a class

In the event that you are unable to attend a class you must try to arrange for a suitably qualified colleague to undertake your teaching on an exchange or swap basis, subject to obtaining verbal approval of the lab supervisor.

If you cannot arrange to swap your duties with another TA, or you are unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances, contact Ruth Maddocks (cc SSO) explaining which lab you cannot attend.

Attendance of TAs is monitored. You will not be paid for any labs you miss, and will need to be able to explain any unauthorised absence to the lab supervisor.

Dealing with problems

If you encounter any problems when you are teaching, or you are unhappy with any aspect of the working environment, speak to the lab supervisor in the first instance. If it is not possible to reach a resolution, or you have any general concerns, contact Caroline Jay, the TA champion.

Be aware that the University Dignity at Work Policy covers TAs

Please see the TA wiki for further information about administrative issues and frequently asked questions.