Information about becoming a GTA

Why Become a GTA

PhD students working in lab

Why Become a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) 

The Department of Bioengineering welcomes and strongly encourages doctoral students to support the academic mission of the department through the Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Programme. As a GTA you will work closely alongside our academic staff to provide an outstanding learning experiences for our undergraduate and postgraduate students. 

By getting involved in teaching, you will learn how to convey complex technical concepts and manage classroom dynamics and improve your own specialist knowledge both theoretical and practical. Teaching is a core component of working in academia, so by working as a GTA, you can gain experience, build your own teaching portfolio, and develop your own teaching style. Teaching is also a valuable experience outside academia and will equip you with skills of benefit for all roles involving leadership. 

You will have access to high quality training and support through the GTA Programme (GTAP) which is accredited by the Higher Education Academy at D1, Associate Fellowship status.

Application and Allocation

How to Apply

Teaching opportunities are distributed via email along with instructions on how to sign up and other information relevant to the module (class size, likely timetable). You can expect to receive an email with these opportunities during the following times of year: 

  • For the Autumn term: August/early September 

  • For the Spring term:  November/early December 

  • For the Summer term (reduced load):  February/mid March 

Examinations take place during week one of the Spring term and usually the first five or six weeks of the Summer term. All other GTA opportunities are on an ad-hoc basis throughout each academic year. 

Experience and Knowledge


We will, whenever possible, use GTAs who have taught the module before and are therefore already familiar with the content. We recommend that before any application you take a look at the module descriptors (UG and PGof all of our programmes to ensure you have the necessary experience in that field. 
 

Authorisation 

If you wish to undertake GTA work, it is compulsory to have permission from your supervisor. PhD and MRes students can begin GTA work as soon as they are registered with the Department. 

You must complete the training provided within the department and from The Graduate School (see next section for more details) 

If you are a PhD/MRes student on a Tier 4 visa, you should be aware that you are not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week. The Department will be tracking your hours to ensure that you keep to the visa and immigration guidelines. 

Training

As a GTA in the Department of Bioengineering, you will have access to a variety of training and support both within the Department and from College through the Graduate School.  Some of this training is mandatory depending on the GTA activity as detailed below.

Imperial College Graduate School 

Graduate School: Core Courses

The GTA Programme (GTAP) provides training and support to postgraduate researchers who are engaged as Graduate Teaching Assistants at Imperial.  

The Graduate School offers two core training courses: 

These courses cover a general introduction to learning and teaching at Imperial, and an introduction to assessment and feedback. 

Graduate School: Optional Courses  

The Graduate School also offers two optional training courses: 

Graduate School: GTA Toolkit 

This is great go to resource providing further information categorised into the following sections:

  • GTA role and practicalities 
  • Learning and teaching 
  • Assessment and feedback 
  • Professional recognition 
  • Inclusive learning and teaching 
  • Wellbeing – listening and signposting 

Graduate School : Support with AFHEA Applications 

The GTA Programme (GTAP) is accredited by the Higher Education Academy (HEA), which means participants are eligible to apply for professional recognition of their teaching. If you wish to apply for Associate Fellowship of HFA this course presents the UK professional standards that should to be demonstrated by those teaching in higher education. 

Department of Bioengineering

Departmental: Subject-specific briefing by respective academics 

The Department will provide you with a GTA/module leader interaction guide before you start work. This will help you to ensure that you are adequately prepared for your duties. In particular, this guide lays out your responsibilities, and those of the module lead: 

  • Providing you with adequate mark schemes/problem sheets 
  • Helping you to understand the key concepts of modules and practical activities 
  • Scheduling regular meetings to check on progress 

Departmental: Invigilation

GTAs who wish to undertake invigilating during the examination periods must attend invigilator training held by the Student Office.  

Departmental: Lab Support

If you involved in laboratory sessions, there will be introductory lab briefings facilitated by the technical team and module leader which will include any health and safety requirements and other responsibilities. 

Departmental: Queries 

You can always email the Student Office (bg-studentoffice@imperial.ac.ukor pop in in person: RSM 3.21c. You are also welcome to contact the GTA Officer, Dr Nicolas Newell (n.newell09@imperial.ac.uk), your mentor or your supervisor.   

Payment and working hours

Although the College’s employment policy states that full time students should not work more than 10-15 hours per week, the Graduate School recommends that GTA’s should not teach more than 6 hours per week. The Department also advocates this.** Usually, this means that GTA’s can teach up to 2 modules per week. Assuming that there are 25 teaching weeks, you should not work more than 150 hours in total across an academic year. Tier 4 students are reminded that they are legally not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week.

**However, there may be some flexibility for the number of hours per week for those who are not on a Tier 4 visa, during the summer term. Y1 and Y2 have wet labs, and because they typically last for 4 weeks, this means the timetable is condensed and so the number of overall hours available is not as many as the autumn and spring terms. You will still need to secure your supervisors' permission for this. Those on a Tier 4 visa will still be restricted to 20 hours per week. 

Support of teaching activities in the department is paid at one of three rates, depending on the activity in question:

  • Band A: £27.54 per hour: For duties such as 1-to-1, Journal Club Leader, Lecture and Study Groups.
  • Band B: £20.69 per hour: For duties such as preparation, assessment setup, computer lab, drop-in, exam testing, invigilation, lab demostration, marking, moderator, non-teaching, note taker, project support and second marking.
  • Band C: £15.98 per hour: For duties such as open day tours and outreach activity.

Study groups and lab sessions are supported further with a fixed preparation rate of £20.69. The expectation is that GTAs know the material and thus do not need to invest time in preparation. However, the department acknowledges that this may not always be the case and thus pays a fixed preparation rate.

Please note that any additional work must be authorised beforehand. Do not conduct extra work without approval. Please speak to the module leader who will then contact the GTA Officer, Dr Nicolas Newell (n.newell09@imperial.ac.uk), to seek authorisation.

You will be sent an email with detailed instructions about how to register for payment and how to log your hours. It is important to ensure that you submit the relevant documents ASAP. You will not be granted access to the system for logging hours until the Student Office receives confirmation from the Department Finance Office (Based in B215) that you have submitted all paperwork. You will receive an email when you have been granted access to this system and it will include a link, which we recommend you bookmark, and you can log your hours through there.

Additional Information

GTA Checklist  

 

At the start of each term, it is your responsibility to ensure you have taken the following steps: Image showing someone making a checklist

  • Ensure that you have the permission of your supervisor to do GTA work 

  • Ensure that you have been registered by the Casual Work team and that your work authorisation is still valid through the end of the term or work period 

  • Review the GTA and Course leader INTERACTION GUIDE and discuss mutual expectations with the module leader and raise/resolve any queries 

  • Ensure you have attended the Departmental Introduction to GTA talk given during Welcome Week, if starting GTA work in Autumn term 

  • Ensure you have completed or booked the two core GTA courses provided by the Graduate School 

  • For invigilator work, ensure you have attended training given by the Bioengineering Student Office 

  • Ensure you have attended any necessary inductions (typical for lab-based work)  

  • Check you have access to the Blackboard modules that you will be undertaking GTA work for. 

  • Check your sessions are correctly entered in your Outlook calendar  

  • Check that you know your group name and location of your sessions using the Celcat timetable. 

  • Check your login works for the GTA Payment System