group of students in a lecture

Class teaching

The information below is intended as an aid for students interested in teaching opportunities in the Department of Economic History, and provides answers to those questions that are most commonly asked.

If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this information, please email Jennie Stayner:

1. Why teach during your PhD

Teaching is one of the core skills you will learn as a PhD student at the LSE. It is one of the most challenging, enjoyable, and stimulating parts of academic work.  For those of you who plan to pursue an academic career, gaining a variety of teaching experience is crucial for the job market. Even for those who do not, however, teaching experience provides several useful skills, particularly in presenting research findings to a variety of audiences. Whatever your career goals, teaching will improve your research by helping you to frame it a way that is relevant to your chosen readership.

There are clear trade-offs in terms of the time you spend doing research, teaching or other activities. Students should not take on so much teaching that it compromises the quality of research. PhD students normally teach in their second and sometimes third years, when they have defined their topic and are learning to manage research tasks alongside other activities such as teaching and seminar organising. Archival work overseas or other research-related travel may influence this. However, we regard teaching experience as a key investment in your development as a researcher, and you should speak with your supervisor about the best time to make this investment. 

Please note, some PhD funding bodies will expect you to teach as part of your PhD training.

2. How teaching works at the LSE

Undergraduates students take four ‘full unit’ courses each year (or three full units and two half-units). Most courses are taught on a lecture plus class basis, with 20 one-hour lectures, one per week, in each of the weeks of the Autumn and Winter Terms. Classes last for 50 minutes (starting at 5 minutes past and ending at 5 minutes before the hour) and are usually held weekly from the second week in term Autumn term up to and including the first week of the Spring Term.  

Attendance at lectures is optional but strongly recommended. Attendance at classes is compulsory. Classes are where students engage with the material delivered in the lecture and the assigned readings. Over the year, students are generally required to produce three or four pieces of written work, depending on the course. Student’s exam entry requires satisfactory attendance and performance in each course. The student needs to have completed all of the required pieces of work.

3. Duties and responsibilities of a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA)

The time students spend in class should be engaging, active and stimulating. How you teach will shape how they think about our discipline and the topics they study. You are also often the first to learn about areas where students may need additional pastoral support. Finally, you will give students the majority of the feedback they receive on their written or class work. Marking work, writing meaningful comments and helping students learn how to improve their performance is a key part of the class teacher’s role.

Your duties in the department include:

  • Conducting effective, high-quality teaching that supports the course syllabus
  • Preparing appropriate teaching materials, such as discussion questions for each class
  • Offering advice and feedback to students during weekly office hours
  • Reporting academic problems to the course convener
  • Marking formative and assessed student work
  • Assisting with marking exams (this will be within the two main exam periods of January and June, as well as the IRDAP in-session re-sits)


  • Participating in teaching meetings with academics and administrators
  • Participation in LSE and Departmental training programmes
  • Keeping up to date records of student attendance and grades on LSE for You
  • Regularly checking your e-mail and responding to student queries in a timely manner
  • Writing termly reports on your students performance.

A more detailed list of duties and responsibilities can be found in the handbook. In addition, the obligations and responsibilities of GTAs (and also faculty and students) are laid out more fully in the Code of Good Practice for Undergraduate Programmes.

4. GTA training

You will receive training on how to teach from both the Department and the School. During their first year in the PhD programme, prospective GTAs will participate in a departmental training programme working alongside experienced GTAs. As part of this programme, you will shadow a class teacher to observe their teaching and have them observe you, providing feedback.

In addition, the Eden Centre at LSE runs an annual GTA induction course for new teachers at the beginning of each academic year, which teaches you how the school works, and how to teach effectively. It is compulsory for all newly appointed occasional teachers to attend these courses, even if t hey have attended similar courses elsewhere, or if they have prior teaching experience, unless they have a specific exemption from the GTA mentor. The course covers effective teaching, feedback and assessment. Feedback on the course is highly positive. 

5. Applying to teach

Class teaching assignments are allocated during the Spring Term of the previous academic year by the Deputy Head for Teaching (who manages teaching allocations for the Department and acts as GTA mentor), currently Professor Neil Cummins ( If you would like to express a preference for teaching a specific course or in a specific area, you need to e-mail Professor Cummins by Week 1 of Spring Term.

As we regard teaching as a crucial part of your training, we aim to ensure that all PhD students will have the opportunity to teach. However, it is not always possible to accommodate preferences for a specific course. 

6. Time commitment and salary

GTAs vary in how may classes they teach per year. We recommend teaching at least 2 classes on a single course, as it makes most effective use of your preparation time and gives you as a teacher experience of managing differences between class groups.

More experienced GTAs may teach more than 2 classes or may teach classes for more than one course. We recommend that students do not teach more than five or six classes. Please also note that students are generally restricted to working a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time. This is particularly relevant for overseas students on student visas.

In considering how to structure your teaching, you should factor in the time required each week for preparation, marking and related administration, and office hours. As a guide, if you teach two classes per week, the time for preparation and other duties is included in your contract, which works out at around 7 hours per week. For three classes it is around 8.5 hours per week.

Pay for GTAs varies depending on how many classes you teach. You can see examples of salary for teaching two, three, four or five classes per week here












Contact us


Professor Sara Horrell +44 (0)20 7955 7075

Ms Tracy Keefe +44 (0)20 7955 7860


Professor Sara Horrell, Doctoral Programme Director

Tracy Keefe, PhD Programme Manager


Department of Economic History, London School of Economics