Graduate Teaching Assistant

PhD students have the opportunity to work as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) in the Department.  Working as a GTA provides you with an opportunity to broaden your experience at Imperial and develop further skills.  GTAs are highly respected in the Department and provide invaluable support for students and staff. 

The Graduate School holds comprehensive information on the role and responsibilities of being a GTA and other support information.

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GTA Programme in the Mathematics Department

The Mathematics Department strongly encourages all PhD students to get involved as a GTA. There are a number of opportunities available at different levels and the Department is always welcome to new ideas on how GTAs can support the work of the students and staff.

In order to work as a GTA, PhD students are required to take part in College and Departmental training.

In the induction week, we have interviews for all new GTAs and a short survey for recording your teaching preferences. You should also register as a casual worker during the induction week to make sure you get GTA work allocated to you.

In the second week, there are two training sessions. The sessions will introduce the basics of teaching and learning activities to help you to plan your teaching.  All PhD students hoping to work as a GTA are required to attend these sessions. 

The training will include:

  • explanation of the role of the GTA;
  • using of BlackBoard;
  • departmental guidelines on marking;
  • taking questions;
  • and supporting the students.

During the year additional training sessions focused around specific topics may be held. GTAs will be notified of these by email and expected to attend.

GTAs will also be expected to meet the lecturers in charge of the module they are working on. This may consist of only one meeting at the start of term, or regular meeting throughout the term, depending on both the lecturer’s and the GTAs’ requirements. As a GTA, you are responsible for all of the material pertaining to the module you are involved with, but should also expect full support from your lecturer throughout the term.

In addition to the training given by the department, the Graduate School also offers GTA training.

The benefits of the Graduate School GTA training programme include:

  • Building your skills and knowledge in the areas of practical and small-group teaching, in which aspects of preparation, student learning and motivation, and assessment and feedback are all considered.
  • Access to teaching specialists to help support your teaching.
  • Awareness of resources.

To work as a GTA in the Department, you are required to attend the following workshops run by the EDU during the first term of teaching. If you are unable to attend the first term of teaching, you must gain special permission from the Mathematics Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUGS)/his/her appointed person to work as a GTA. Training must be completed at the earliest opportunity.

  • Teaching 1: An Introduction to Teaching Methods in Higher Education
  • Teaching 2: Assessment and feedback in practice

 Please visit the Graduate School Professional Skills page for more information.

Who is eligible for the programme?

GTA work and training is open to all PhD students who are registered in the Mathematics Department of Imperial College London until (at least) April of the coming year. At certain times PhD students registered in other Departments may also be allowed to work in the Mathematics Department, but must meet with the DUGS to gain permission.

You will need the permission of your supervisor and assurance from your department that you will have some opportunity to teach in the coming academic year.

However, enrolments on the programme will be at the discretion of your department’s DUGS (or his or her relevant delegate).

GTA Expectations Guidelines

Expectations on all GTAs:

  • Be suitably experienced and capable to complete assigned work
  • Be up-to-date with lecture materials and problem sheets to be able to be of appropriate assistance to students
  • Complete demonstration and marking duties as assigned and to the level of expected quality and timeframes of the Department
  • When working with 1st and 2nd year modules, it is expected that students will both demonstrate and mark work for the module
  • Meet with students through the Meet Your Marker Scheme to improve upon feedback and support to students
  • When demonstrating, meet regularly with module lecturer to ensure appropriate feedback and information is provided to students
  • Create solution sets, as required, for problem sheets/tests and meet to review information with module lecturer
  • Demonstrate set problems to large groups of students/support the lecturer on recorded solutions or other new educational initiatives
  • Create solution sets, as required, for problem sheets/tests and meet to review information with module lecturer
  • Report to the lecturer any concerns/issues affecting the module
  • Be a positive role model and support for students

Review of GTA performance:

  • End of term review through student survey
  • Verbal/written comments from lecturer
  • Prizes awarded for top performing GTAs annually
  • At the end of PhD, certificate of achievements

Expectations on the Department:

  • Provide initial training and assistance and ongoing support to GTAs through meetings
  • Ensure lecturer’s availability and support to GTAs
  • Ensure appropriate information and resources to GTAs to support work with module
  • Provide accurate letters to reflect teaching and training achievements at the end of the programme

Graduate Teaching Assistantship Training- HEA accreditation

It is recognised that our PhD students contribute significantly to undergraduate teaching activities. However the training provided to the GTAs across College is very variable. The Graduate School together with the Education Development Unit (EDU) are aiming to provide standardized set of training tools for our GTAs, to complement the training given in departments but not to replace it.

In addition, Imperial College has recently re-joined the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and we are developing an accredited framework that will provide an opportunity for PhD students who teach to obtain Associate Fellowship of the HEA (AFHEA), a transferable and increasingly valuable ‘qualification’.

The Imperial Supporting Teaching Accreditation & Recognition (STAR) framework is NOT compulsory. It is flexible and will allow GTAs to use their teaching experience together with Graduate School &/or departmental training to work towards obtaining AFHEA recognition.

Supporting Teaching Accreditation & Recognition (STAR) framework

AFHEA recognition requires individuals to demonstrate appropriate knowledge of teaching and assessment in their particular subject area, to apply appropriate professional values to promoting learning and to be engaged in appropriate teaching, supervision and assessment.

Most GTAs who help with teaching will have enough engagement with teaching to achieve AFHEA recognition. However other forms of teaching including supervision of UG or Masters students, public engagement activities, teaching in schools and sports coaching* will also count. Importantly there is no minimum in terms of teaching contact required for the AFHEA.

Departmental/Faculty Level GTA training &/or Graduate School training &/or EDU workshops and support can be used in any combination to help GTAs demonstrate the appropriate knowledge of teaching and assessment in their particular subject area and the professional values required.

For further training information, please visit the Imperial STAR Framework page.

Example routes to AFHEA*

  1. Departmental/Faculty Level GTA training + Teaching + Portfolio
  2. Departmental/Faculty Level GTA training +GS/EDU courses + Portfolio
  3. Departmental/Faculty Level GTA training +GS/EDU courses + Teaching + Portfolio
  4. Public engagement training + public engagement event participation + Portfolio
  5. External teaching/coaching activities + Portfolio

Applicants for AFHEA recognition will submit a short (approx. 1500 word) portfolio demonstrating their understanding of the appropriate areas together with two short (500 word max) references, one from a peer and the other from a mentor or supervisor familiar with their teaching role. These are then examined by two Imperial College assessors.

Important points

  1. Existing training & support together with ‘normal’ departmental teaching & submission of an acceptable portfolio will fulfil the criteria for AFHEA.
  2. The framework is flexible; any teaching support and experience can be counted. There is no minimum teaching contact required for AFHEA recognition.
  3. The portfolio is achievable, is based on existing practice and will form the basis of ongoing development, recognition and reward of good teaching practice.

*These lists are not exhaustive

Employment during studies

The College advise students to work no more than 10-15 hours per week. Working in excess of these hours could impact adversely on a student’s studies or health.

International students should be advised that most visas allow students to work no more than 20 hours a week. Some sponsors may not permit students to take up work outside their studies and others may specify a limit. Students considering part-time work during term time are strongly advised to discuss this issue with their supervisor or postgraduate tutor. International students should also seek advice from the International Office regarding visa limitations on employment.

 Please refer to the Policy on employment during studies (PDF)

Registration and Pay Forms

To register as a casual worker, please follow the instructions on the casual work page. Please note that it is crucial to do a right to work check before attending training or starting work. You will not be able to claim for work/training hours completed prior to your right to work check.