Becoming a GTA
Information about becoming a GTA
Why work as a GTA?
The Department of Bioengineering welcomes and encourages doctoral students to get involved in teaching undergraduate and master’s students. Working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) PhD student provides doctoral students with an opportunity to broaden their experience in the Department and Imperial College, and develop further skills.
These include learning to teach, convey complex technical concepts and managing classroom dynamics. Furthermore, students may find that acting as a GTA helps improve their own technical abilities (both theoretical and practical), provides an opportunity to gain communication and task management experience and broadens their knowledge base. When considering a career in academia, teaching experience is important and GTA work provides an opportunity for doctoral students to build a teaching portfolio and develop their own teaching style.
Very simply put, GTA teaching can enhance a CV, and GTAs are paid in addition to their usual bursary.
The Department requires the GTAs to seek permission from their supervisors prior to starting their teaching. Furthermore, GTAs will need to have either already attended the GTA training course offered by the Faculty of Engineering, or have registered to do training, including workshops offered by the Educational Development Unit, which are particularly aimed at GTAs who are assessing student work. Doctoral students starting in October are also required to attend the GTA introduction session that is run as part of the Welcome Week events at the start of each new academic year.
Training and support
Formal GTA training and support is offered in form of:
- Subject-specific briefing by respective academics
- Faculty of Engineering: Specific GTA workshop
- Educational Development Unit: Special skill courses
- Graduate School: Professional skills courses
- Blackboard: technological resources
- GTA guidance booklet 'Starting to teach in Higher Education'
- The STAR Framework: Recognising and rewarding teaching
The Faculty of Engineering runs a comprehensive GTA Teacher Training workshop touching upon Learning Basics, Small Group Teaching and Assessment. The discussions in forums are normally very much anticipated and useful.
The Educational Development Unit (EDU) is there to support learning and teaching and runs regular workshops on marking and giving feedback which are crucial aspects of the student experience.
The Graduate School of Imperial College is focused on broadening and enriching the academic experience of Postgraduate students in the wider sense. Offered are special events of networking and transferrable skill courses which GTAs can use in order to develop in general. Such courses are often not GTA specific and therefore not the type of training accepted as requirement for GTA activity.
Graduate School courses, EDU workshops and Faculty training have all been brought together in the newly designed The STAR Framework which supports skill development, recognises and rewards teaching skills and committment to teaching. The framework has been accredited by the Higher Education Academy (HEA), which means GTAs can apply to become Associate or Senior Fellow or Fellow of the HEA after doing respective STAR workshops. How it all works is explained here.
Finally, technology offers support in form of the VLE, also called Blackboard. To enrol go to the Blackboard VLE homepage - and do the following:
- Select 'Course List' from the right hand side
- Select 'NQ Faculty of Engineering' from the drop down course list
- Select 'NQ-GTA Resources'
- Click on the icon to register using your Imperial username and password.
Available teaching opportunities
How to apply
Doctoral students who want to get involved should respond to email calls sent out by the Student Office or email Leigh directly.
Remember, any doctoral student wishing to apply to be a GTA must first seek permission from their supervisor.
Payment and working hours
Please note that students should not work more than 20 hours a week, according to the College's Employment policy. However, the Graduate School recommends that on average GTAs should teach less than six hours per week and teaching should not exceed 10 hours in any week. Assuming that there are 25 teaching weeks, no GTA should work for more than 150 hours in total over the academic year.
GTAs are paid a higher or a lower rate depending on the type of activity. The rates are determined by the College each year and can be found here.
- Higher rate of £24.77 per hour: study groups, one-to-one tutorials
- Lower rate of £14.14 per hour: lab presentations, marking, invigilation
As part of the efforts to make GTA work more attractive, the Department will compensate (or at least partly compensate) for extra preparation time of 1 hour per week spent on GTA work (study groups and lab demonstration) at a rate of £14.14 per hour.
This will be on top of the current GTA pay and needs authorisation by Dr Rylie Green. It should be noted that since the current higher rate (£24.77 per hour) for study groups already accounts for some preparation time, only extra hours will be compensated for (i.e. if one study group session need two hours of preparation, only the one extra hour will be compensated for).
Before first payment, GTAs need to fill in the Casual Worker Joining Form (Pay 8a) and Letter of Understanding (LoU) and hand it in to the Departmental Finance Office (Bessemer Level 2) with their passport. Then you need to be registered in the internal GTA payment database, the link to which will be sent by the Student Office (please also provide your CID number and date of birth).