Class Teaching Information

Why class teaching?

Since many of you will become academics, class teaching represents useful professional training. Even for students not expecting to pursue an academic career, the experience of giving public presentations will stand you in good stead. This teaching can be a valuable and important experience, and can play a role in enhancing your CV. Of course, no one should take on too much teaching so that it compromises his or her own course work and research. However, most students find the experience to be very helpful in their development as economists.

Duties and responsibilities of a Graduate Teaching Assistant

Allowing for some minor variations between courses, the main duties of a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) are to support the weekly lectures by running small class groups of around 15 students using the problem sets provided. The lecturer in charge of the course sets much of the content to be covered in the classes. Classes run for fifty minutes, starting at five minutes past the hour and finishing at five minutes to the hour. You should be punctual for your teaching commitments, and should only exceptionally take on commitments which would lead to a class being missed. If cancellation of a teaching commitment is unavoidable you should inform the Timetables Office| and the Department's GTA Co-ordinator| , as soon as possible and promptly arrange an additional meeting to make up the loss.

In addition to the classes you will also be expected to spend some time each week reading course related materials in preparation for each class. Course Materials| will be provided by the Course Lecturer and are also available on the Department's website. Over time you will become more familiar with the course materials, so the preparation time needed will be less.

You will arrange a weekly office hour (two if you teach five class hours per week) at a time convenient to both you and your students. You will provide academic support, discussing course material and answering questions arising from the lectures and classes. Room 32L.1.30 on the 1st floor of the 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields Building can be used to meet with your students.  To maximise accessibility, office hours and other open-door times should start and finish on the half-hour.

Depending on the course, you may be expected to attend some or all of the weekly lectures. There may also be weekly, fortnightly or less regular meetings with the course lecturer which you should attend.

You will set and mark at least four pieces of course work over the year, although this number may vary between some courses. Course Lecturers will advise on the standards to which course work must be marked and will discuss the marking criteria, where applicable. Course work should normally be collected, marked and returned with written comments, within two weeks.

You should record student class attendance on a weekly basis using the Online Class Register|  system available via LSE for You|. You should also use the system to record marks for course work, failure to submit course work and instances of regular, unexplained absenteeism. At the end of the Michaelmas and Lent terms, you will also be required to provide an end of term report|  on each student. The report should include a grade for class work and class participation during the term.

In the Summer Term, in the period from early to mid-May to the end of June, you will be expected to undertake examination related duties such as script marking. You should not make any travel plans during this period. Before you accept any offer of teaching you should bear in mind that you will be expected to mark scripts even if you are sitting your own examinations during the same period. It is not sufficient reason to opt out of marking because you have your own exams.

The obligations and responsibilities of Graduate Teaching Assistants (and also lecturers and students) are laid out more fully in the Code of Good Practice for Undergraduate Programmes: Teaching, Learning and Assessment| .

Who can apply?

Students on the department's research programmes generally undertake some class teaching. Consequently, the majority of Graduate Teaching Assistants are the department's own PhD students. As a general rule, a GTA should have a postgraduate qualification in Economics, although qualifications in other related quantitative subjects such as finance, maths or statistics will also be considered. Applications from MSc students studying Economics with a strong academic background will be considered in certain circumstances. Good references are essential, and previous teaching experience would be an advantage although not essential. Applications from undergraduates will not be considered.

How to apply?

If you wish to be a GTA you should complete an application form| . Complete Part A of the application form, indicating the course(s) you would most like to teach and the number of hours you can commit to per week. Ask someone who can comment on your academic abilities and on your suitability for teaching, to complete Part B. Additional reference letters may be attached if desired. Once the form is complete, please return an original signed copy to the GTA Co-ordinator| . You should also include evidence of your nationality and therefore your eligibility to work in the UK. This can be a copy of the relevant pages of your passport plus any visa stamps or a copy of your national ID card or National Insurance card.

To improve your chances of selection, you are advised to choose two or three courses, in order of preference, that you would feel confident in teaching. To help you decide which course is for you, course outlines|  can be viewed in the Undergraduate Handbook. Course Materials|  can be viewed via the department's website, although some of this information is only accessible from within the School and only to enrolled students or existing staff members.

How many hours will I work?

Depending on the size of the course, hours normally range from three to five hours per week during twenty weeks of active teaching. Students with their own taught studies and examinations to consider are advised not to take on too many hours so that it compromises their own studies. Three hours per week is the average number of hours generally recommended for students with their own studies and examinations. Research students who are further along with their studies can take up to a maximum of five hours per week. This maximum may be extended in exceptional circumstances.

You must also remember that time will need to be set aside each week for such tasks as preparatory work for classes, marking class assignments and class teaching related administration.

You will arrange a weekly office hour (two if you teach five class hours per week) at a time convenient to both you and the majority of your students. You will provide academic support, discussing course material and answering questions arising from the lectures and classes.

How much will I be paid?

Teaching five classes per week is the maximum teaching load recommended by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This equates to 100 class hours spread over the academic year of approximately 20 weeks, starting in October and finishing in May of the following year. Most research students teach between three and five hours per week. You can see some examples of the teaching contract which shows how much you will be paid for teaching two|, three or four| classes per week. As well as the actual classes, the contract includes payment for time spent on holding weekly office hours, preparing for the classes, attending lectures and meetings with the course lecturer, marking of written course work during the term and administrative duties such as the completion of the on-line class registers and report forms as required by the Academic Registrar.

You will be paid extra for exam script marking in the Summer term. This is based on a marking rate of two exam scripts per hour, although there may be some minor variations in this rate from course to course.

Selection and Appointment

You can make an application throughout the year. However, once term-time class teaching is underway, vacant positions are rare. The main period for consideration of applications is during August - October preceding the new teaching year and your application will be kept on file until that time.

Referring to the criteria in the Who can apply?| section, applications are treated in the following order of priority:

  • Applications from continuing class teachers, who are also registered students, with a proven track record of teaching with the department
  • New applications from research students registered in the Department of Economics
  • New applications from research students registered in a related LSE department, i.e. finance, mathematics, statistics
  • Occasionally, applications from research students studying economics registered at other local universities, will be considered. Typically, these include Imperial, KCL, LBS and UCL
  • Applications from MSc students registered in the Department of Economics

In most cases, if your application is successful you will be allocated to your first choice course. However, this might not always be possible so you should be prepared to be flexible and fit in according to the overall needs of the Department. If your first course choice has been fully allocated, your second or third choice will be allocated. You will normally be allocated to one course only. Exceptionally, experienced Graduate Teaching Assistants will be allocated to two different courses. Additionally, it may not always be possible to allocate the exact number of hours requested.

Once the course and hours have been agreed you will receive a letter or e-mail message confirming your appointment. Applicants who have not previously taught at the LSE are required to attend a short series of training courses  before their appointment can be confirmed. You will also be asked to complete some minor pieces of administration in connection with your appointment.

This includes completing a Personal Details and Timetabling Constraints Form|. You should indicate which periods of the week you are not available to teach. This information will help the Timetables Office to schedule your classes at times convenient to you. However, for Graduate Teaching Assistants who are also students on taught courses, you may still be waiting to receive details of your own course schedule. If this is the case, you should complete and return the form as best you can. If subsequent clashes occur between your teaching schedule and your own course schedule, the Timetables Office will make every effort to make the necessary changes later. You can keep a check on your personal teaching timetable|  if required.

Your details will then be passed to the School's Human Resources Division| , who after confirming your eligibility to work, will issue you with a contract of employment|. You should confirm your acceptance of the appointment by signing and returning one copy. You will also receive copies of the Terms and Conditions of Appointment| , Guidance on Good Practice for the Employment of Graduate Teaching Assistants at LSE|, a Bank/Building Society details form, so that your monthly salary can be paid directly into your account, an Employee Details form, asking for personal details such as address, telephone number, etc, and a P46 Tax Form, which you should complete to avoid paying tax or to pay tax at the correct level. You should complete and return the forms as appropriate.

Training

It is a condition of appointment that all new Graduate Teaching Assistants to the department should attend a short series of training sessions| . Even if you have previously taught at another university, you will still need to attend this training. These sessions are organised by the School's Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC)| . The sessions are scheduled mostly during the early weeks of the Michaelmas Term. The training is split into three parts:

  • Part 1 - Introduction to running problem set classes and marking class work (whole day)
  • Part 2 - Videoed practice teaching exercises (half day)
  • Part 3 - Reviewing your teaching, writing student reports and references, and responding to student feedback about your teaching (half day)

For reference purposes, you may find the list of Tips and Techniques for Effective Class Teaching|  useful. You can also view some very useful and pertinent information in the Handbook for Graduate Teaching Assistants| .

All new teachers should also attend the Dean's Induction   (half day) in order to get acquainted with the School's rules, routines and expectations of performance which are attached to the role of GTA. The School expects and requires all involved in teaching to be fully aware of these rules, routines and procedures. The School will pay you £25 per half day session, up to a maximum of £125, to attend these sessions.

Those students who wish to take their teaching training further should also consider taking the LSE Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCertHE)| , a formal qualification in teaching in HE which is externally accredited by a national body, the Higher Education Academy. For more information about the LSE PGCertHE and other TLC teaching training, please contact the TLC Administrator| .

Language Support

One of the most common complaints received from students each year is that they cannot understand their GTA. This can be due to a particularly strong accent, talking too quickly or too softly. Therefore, for a GTA whose first language is not English, it is strongly recommended that you attend the English for Teaching Purposes| training sessions  organised by the School's Language Centre| . This training is for anyone involved in the teaching of students and is free of charge.

Teaching Quality and Evaluation

The Teaching Quality Assurance and Review Office (TQARO)|  is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the quality of all teaching in the School. This is primarily achieved by carrying out a Teaching Survey|  in the Michaelmas and Lent Terms. Students are asked to complete a questionnaire, which asks a number of pertinent questions concerning their GTA and their overall teaching experience. Many of the questions asked require the student to rate the performance of their GTA on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 = unsatisfactory and 1 = excellent.

It is these ratings that the department is particularly interested in. The information is tabulated and each GTA receives a copy|  of their individual results. The Head of Department|  and the GTA Co-ordinator|  also receive a copy. The information is then analysed to identify areas of strength and weakness. Where a GTA appears to be struggling, he or she will be contacted by the GTA Co-ordinator to discuss the matter. Very often, encouragement and support are all that is required to motivate a GTA to improve their performance. Sometimes extra formal training is needed. On rare occasions, the GTA's role will be reduced or the teaching contract terminated. The Survey information is also used to identify GTAs performing particularly well. This is useful in deciding who should receive the annual teaching prizes awarded by the School and the Department, and also for seeing who might make suitable candidates for Teaching Fellowships| .

In addition to the School's survey, the department also has internal mechanisms in place for monitoring the quality of class teaching. This is primarily aimed at new GTAs and involves the course lecturer attending one of your classes mid-way through the Michaelmas Term to observe your performance and provide feedback. The observation should last no more than twenty minutes and will be arranged with your prior knowledge, at a time to suit you and the course lecturer. You will receive a completed copy of the Observation Record Form| . Any areas of concern will be discussed with you by the course lecturer and/or the GTA Co-ordinator.

There is one other method the department uses to monitor class teaching performance. If a student has a problem with his or her GTA, they have the opportunity to draw this to the attention of the Departmental Undergraduate Tutor| . There is a special form for this purpose, which can be completed, outlining the problem. The Undergraduate Tutor may contact you directly or refer the matter to the GTA Co-ordinator, who will provide feedback to the GTA concerned. In a majority of cases, the problem is language related, i.e. a student whose first language is not English cannot understand the accent of the GTA, whose first language is also not English. It is usually sufficient to bring the reported problem to the attention of the GTA to see an improvement in performance. Sometimes additional training|  is required.

So by pulling all of this information together; the School's surveys, the department's observations and the problem forms, the department is able to identify GTAs in need of additional support and encouragement. Indeed, the department will always seek to support GTAs in the course of their duties. However, consistent under-performing will reluctantly result in the termination of an appointment.

September Course Teaching

The September Course|  is a pre-sessional course for new MSc and MRes students. Graduate Teaching Assistants are needed for courses in Introductory Mathematics, Mathematics for Microeconomics and Macroeconomics; Statistics and Probability. GTAs who are selected should be available during the period late August to early October.

Lectures last for one hour and take place from 9.00 - 10.00am and 2.00 - 3.00pm. Classes last for one and a half hours and run during the period 10.15am - 1.15pm and 2.00 - 6.15pm. Total hours of work vary from three to four and a half hours of classes per day, over a three week period. You may also be asked to hold one office hour per week. You will carry out examination related duties, such as invigilation and script marking, at the end of the course.

You will also be expected to attend a short series of half day training courses before the September Course commences. You will be paid extra for your attendance.

If you are interested in applying for a teaching position, please contact the PhD Programme Administrator|  for further details. Research students in the Economics Department with proven previous teaching experience will receive selection priority.

Summer School Teaching

The Summer School|  is held over two 3-week sessions during early to late July and late July to mid-August. Most of the Summer School courses correspond to the department's regular undergraduate courses| . Depending on the timetable and number of classes allocated to a teacher, classes are scheduled in the morning, or in the afternoon after lectures. Typically, you might teach one or two classes per day for one session, corresponding to 12 or 24 contract hours. There are mid-session and final examinations. You will be expected to invigilate the exams and mark the exam scripts for your students. Your duties will end once you have completed the marking and you have agreed marks for the final examinations with the Course Lecturer.

The rate of pay for Summer School classes is £85 per hour, £25 per hour for exam invigilation and £9 per script for script marking.

Teaching applications can be submitted from the start of the Lent term. The closing date is usually around the end of Lent term. The selection process will generally be completed by the start of the Summer term. If you have any questions about the application process, please contact the GTA Co-ordinator|. Please note that many of the Summer School Course Lecturers will automatically pre-select their Summer School teachers from the best performing Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA) who have taught on the equivalent term-time course during the year. Alternatively, the Lecturers may want to retain the services of a GTA who taught on their Summer School course in the previous year. After this initial selection process, all other applications will be considered and any remaining GTA vacancies will be offered to the strongest candidates. Appointments are made based on previous teaching experience and information in reference letters. Note that research students in the Economics Department, followed by research students from other related Departments such as Mathematics, Statistics and Finance, will receive selection priority. Candidates with previous teaching experience, particularly teaching at the LSE, and with strong results and feedback in the LSE Teaching Surveys|  will have the best chance of selection. If you are applying from outside the LSE, you should provide equivalent evidence of your previous performance as a Teaching Assistant.    

With this in mind, if you are still interested in applying to be a Summer School GTA, you should complete an application form| . Complete Part A of the application form, indicating the course(s) you feel best qualified to teach. If you have not previously worked as a GTA in the Department, ask someone who can comment on your academic abilities and on your suitability for teaching, to complete Part B. Additional reference letters may be attached if desired. Once the form is complete, please return an original signed copy to the GTA Co-ordinator| . You should also include evidence of your nationality and therefore your eligibility to work in the UK. This can be a copy of the relevant pages of your passport plus any visa stamps or a copy of your national ID card or National Insurance card.

Teaching Fellowships

In Lent term, the department usually advertises for a number of temporary, part-time Teaching Fellowship positions. The department generally advertises internally on the School's Job Opportunities at the LSE|  web pages . You can also ask the PhD Programme Administrator|  for further details.

These positions are generally aimed at research students, to cover for full-time members of staff who are on leave, and are tenable for one year in the first instance. Renewal for a second and final year may be possible. Candidates should be willing to teach 60 hours of Masters level classes and undertake associated marking and tutoring duties. The pay is around £17,500 per annum.

Applications are invited from candidates with a strong postgraduate degree and previous relevant teaching experience in econometrics, microeconomics or macroeconomics. However, the Department, in common with most US departments, has a policy of not hiring its own PhD students into permanent (tenure track) positions until they have worked elsewhere for at least two years. Thus, LSE students holding a Temporary Teaching Fellowship should not expect that it will eventually evolve into a permanent position. Ideally, you will have completed, or be very near completing your PhD. In filling such positions, whilst the candidate's research is taken into account, the main selection criteria are:

  • Whether your field matches the Department's teaching needs
  • Your past teaching record

Your application should include:

  • A copy of your CV
  • A copy of a summary of past and current research (no more than 500 words)
  • Two reference letters from suitably qualified individuals who can recommend you for appointment. At least one should be able to comment on your teaching abilities

This information should be returned in full to the PhD Programme Administrator|  by the advertised closing date.

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