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Postgraduate teaching

Teaching in the Department

The Department welcomes the teaching input of its PhD students and recognises this as an essential part of preparation for the academic workplace. For this reason, it appoints a separate Postgraduate Tutors Liaison Officer who oversees the training, teaching activities and resources available to postgraduate tutors. The current Liaison Officer is Dr Rochelle Sibley. PhD students teach on the large first-year core modules, Modes of Reading, Modern World Literatures, Medieval to Renaissance, and Epic. Other modules may have teaching vacancies on occasion, but the normal expectation is that PhD students teach primarily on our first-year modules. PGRs and sessional tutors cannot convene modules. We recognize the strong contribution PG tutors make to undergraduate teaching, and encourage their nomination for PG WATEs (Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence), which PG tutors are often awarded.

Teaching is normally available to PhD students once only. PhD students typically teach during their second year or, if they are unable to do so then, during their third year. Fourth-year PhD students are not allowed to teach to allow them the time to focus on completing their thesis.

If you would like to teach

Eligibility

Eligibility to be considered for teaching for PhD students who have not previously taught in the department is established via an interview with a panel consisting of the Deputy Head of Department, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Director of Teaching and Learning during Term 3. A successful interview does not guarantee that you will be assigned teaching. See here for further details on the Interview Process.

Vacancies

Discuss the matter with your supervisor: you must have their permission to apply for teaching. You may also discuss teaching with the Postgraduate Liaisons Officer, the Director of Teaching and Learning or the Director of Graduate Studies. Once you have your supervisor's permission, you will need to apply formally through the University when the vacancy is advertised. You will need to state your area of research, upload a CV, and identify which of the first-year modules you would like to teach.

Who teaches?

The interview team (Director of Graduate Studies, Director of Teaching and Learning, Deputy Head) decide who is eligible to teach in the department. Teaching is then allocated by Head of Department in consultation with convenors of modules. The needs of our Undergraduate programme are at the core of all teaching assignments.

Teaching is assigned in order to grant PGRs teaching experience only and cannot be relied on for an income. Preference is given to second-year PGR students, third years who have not yet had any teaching experience, and part-time students who have had no teaching experience who are in their third and fourth years. Given the budget constraints for the upcoming academic year, it is highly unlikely that PGRs who have taught previously will be given teaching again. We also do not assign teaching to fourth year students who are in the process of completing their dissertations.

Responsibilities

Your responsibility is to guide our undergraduates in accordance with the professional training and development offered by the department and at University level. Tutors are regarded as members of staff and therefore should conduct themselves in a professional manner.

  • Please remember to ensure seminars remain focused on the material set for that week and do not digress into exclusive or general conversations or become mini-lectures given by the tutor. Teaching is an inclusive practice and we aim to encourage all our undergraduates to feel confident to contribute to seminars.
  • You should not under any circumstances comment on student work on social media (do not post comments about students or student essays on Twitter or Facebook, for example).
  • In order to be available to students you are required to keep one office hour a week and to let your students know in advance if you have to miss this hour, including when you will reschedule it.
  • If you need to cancel a seminar meeting for any reason, please give as much notice as possible (if you’re ill on the day, call the Department's Academic Administrator, on extension 23323). You are expected to reschedule any seminar which you have to miss.
  • The Postgraduate Tutors Liaison Officer is your first port of call should any difficulties or dilemmas arise with regard to your teaching.

Seminars

As noted above, seminars are shared discussions focused on the material set for the specific week of the module in question. Seminars should be tutor-led but should not digress into exclusive or general conversations. Tutors should not give mini-lectures about the subject or text, but instead guide an inclusive discussion: it is important that all students contribute to the seminar.

You are welcome to ask students to lead seminars by assigning specific texts or questions to individuals: students might give a 5-10 minute presentation or offer a series of discussion points to the group. Other pedagogical practices will be shared with you during PG training. Please remember that the aim of seminars is to encourage students to feel confident in developing their own critical voice and ability to interpret texts of all kinds. Seminars are not fact-checking exercises.

Marking

Marking essays is a way to give students written feedback on the content, argument and structure of their work. You must ensure that your feedback is specific and clearly guides the student in the steps necessary to improving their work over time. It is often helpful to encourage first years by giving constructive feedback they can refer back to when beginning their next essay. Please remember that first years often require advice on what it means to write a ‘university-level’ essay. First-year marks do not contribute to their final degree average.

Administration associated with teaching

At the beginning of the year tutors are given a list of the students assigned to seminar group(s) on tabula. Please record attendance of all students on Tabula. If students have emailed with a valid reason (an illness or serious personal circumstance), please mark this on Tabula as an authorized absence. If a student asks to transfer into or out of your seminar groups, please send her/him to see the Taught Programmes Officers in the Department Office. He/she is the only person who can authorise a seminar group transfer. Except in very unusual circumstances the Undergraduate Officer will not be able to transfer students into groups which are full. At the end of the academic year, you may need to provide information in advance of the examiners’ meetings (exam boards) relating to the modules you have taught.

Teacher Training

English runs Part 1 of a professional teaching qualification for PG Tutors, known as the 'Introduction to Academic and Professional Practice', in-house (please see the box below for details on Part 2). Part 1 consists of 5 1-hour group sessions with the PG Tutor Liaison Officer, teaching observations, and a 2,000-word essay. Part 1 is graded on a pass/fail basis, and all the elements detailed above must be completed to the satisfaction of the PG Tutors Liaison officer. Normal rules for postgraduates apply to the submission of late work.

It is University policy that postgraduate students who are likely to undertake at least 20 contact hours teaching or demonstrating in a year must participate in the Part 1 of the Introduction to Academic and Professional Practice programme. This is a one-day workshop which provides training in preparation for teaching. Postgraduates with less than 20 hours of teaching are welcome to attend the training. More details can be found at HERE. Students who take the in-house training course, however, are exempt from Part 1. Successful completion of parts 1 & 2 qualify you to receive the Postgraduate Award Introduction to Academic and Professional Practice (PGA IAPP).

APP:PGR

The APP:PGR Programme is available through the Academic Development Centre (ADC).

Academic Development Centre (ADC).Link opens in a new window The programme encompasses first steps into teacher training, the chance to become an Associate Fellow of the HEA and the opportunity to expand and enhance teaching skills and understanding through a qualification. It comprises a 6 month taught course during which students must complete a minimum of 15 hours teaching activity, meaning that it can be completed across one academic year of teaching. It consists of 4 core workshops, attendance at 3 CPD workshops, some distance learning and the completion of an e-portfolio. You can contact the team directly at apppgr@warwick.ac.uk with any queries.

Problems with Students’ Work

If you become aware that a student is having difficulties with his or her academic progress, you should communicate this (without disclosing anything the student has told you in confidence) to the student’s personal tutor. You can find out a student’s personal tutor by searching for them on Tabula. If a student is experiencing difficulties in completing a piece of assessed work owing to illness or personal circumstances (bereavement, for example), s/he may be able to obtain an extension. For all modules, the student must apply to the Director of Undergraduate Studies to request an extension, in advance of the due date of the essay. Extensions are usually only given for medical reasons and some form of documentation is required. In some cases an extension may be given for compassionate reasons. The Director of Undergraduate Studies is the only member of staff who can grant an extension. If you suspect that an essay has been plagiarised you should raise the matter with the course convenor - all assessed essays are electronically submitted and passed through plagiarism detection software.

Rates of Pay

Payment for sessional teaching is governed by the Sessional Teaching Payroll (STP) framework. Further information can be found here. The amount you will be paid depends on your role. As a Associate Tutor you will receive a contract outlining the teaching (and associated activities) expected of you per module and the hours you are permitted to claim. In addition to the contact teaching hours you will be paid for preparation, advice and feedback hours and marking, as per the STP framework.

Ongoing support

The Postgraduate Tutors Liaison Officer will keep regular office hours, and you can also make an appointment or just stop by. If you have questions specific to the module you are teaching you should consult the module convenor.

Sick Leave

If you are ill during term, or during a vacation when you have marking duties, please inform the department: you should email the convenor of the module, and copy in the Director of Graduate Studies and the Deputy Head of Department. In special circumstances, your teaching can be either re-scheduled or covered by a colleague; and your marking can be re-assigned. Please make sure you send a medical note if you are unable to teach or mark.

Teaching Rooms

Depending on the number of hours and size of seminar groups, you will either be booked a general teaching room or allocated the office of a staff member on leave for your teaching.