I'm a junior faculty in a reasonably good UK university. It seems to me that the non-research workload is quite high, and more than I would wish/expected for.

I have two courses per year. Which is okay. And then there's some admin work.

  • Question 1: Is this a fair amount of workload? How would you characterize a standard amount of non-research oriented workload?

Further comments: I feel also that the admin concerning everything in the UK is very high in comparison to other higher education systems in the world.

For example, two courses and some admin seems fair, but the amount of bureaucracy and effort made in each of these tasks is overwhelming, in comparison to other places I've seen.

  • Question 2: Is my impression that UK has a high non-research related workload correct? Or do most standard faculty members have quite high non-research related workload? How would you compare it country wise?
  • 6
    No one can say what's fair. But yours is an exceedingly common complaint, and certainly one that people have switched jobs over.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 14:25
  • 3
    @Anon, I said "fair amount", meaning "standard workload" for a faculty. Indeed, if this is standard workload there's no reason to switch jobs. So basically, my question is: how would you compare it to other places?
    – Jack
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 15:04
  • 3
    @Massimo, class hours: for each course it's 10 weeks of 2 lectures hours and one or two exercise/lab hours per week. So in total, every week it's 4 lecture hours + 2.5 lab hours.
    – Jack
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 0:39
  • 4
    @Jack: Are you saying you teach 65 hours total per year? If so I would consider this extraordinarily light. At my research university in the US, I teach two courses per semester, 2 1/2 hours per week each, and the semester goes for roughly 14 weeks. 2 * 2 * 2 1/2 * 14 = 140, and this is quite typical. At top places the load is lighter, but usually only by a little bit.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 3:38
  • 4
    In the US it's also typical that faculty need to do marking, meet with students, admin work, etc. I stand by my opinion that this sounds much lighter than a typical load in the US, even at a top-notch university.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 17:35

5 Answers 5


I am a CS lecturer at a UK university. Officially I have an even teaching/admin vs research split, but I spend my time teaching, marking, tutoring, supervising, writing reports, making assessments, and making assessments of assessments (moderation). Haven't done any assessments of assessments of assessments yet but I won't be surprised when the day comes.

Senior staff told me things didn't use to be like that.

The uni put a workload model in place. I designed a new module, the workload model grants 7h per hour of lecture. This is 14h/week for a 2h lecture to figure out what you want to teach, search literature, provide study material, create around 50 slides, create demos, labs and homework, and set up everything on the learning system. Altogether it takes me around 60h, I doubt anyone can do it in 14h.

The workload model tends to underestimate the time required for a task.

I really need to work evenings and weekends to progress on the research side and actually write grants. I've heard similar complaints from colleagues, so I don't think it's just me being too slow.

  • 1
    It sounds like you are not from the UK. I agree that most UK workload models underestimate how long it take to create a module. I personally think they tend to over estimate how much prep time the average teacher puts in when giving a lecture for the 3rd+ time. I also think 7 hours is about right for the first time teaching an existing module, but 7 hours to prep a new lecture in a new module is on the light side.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Dec 27, 2018 at 16:24
  • 1
    My UK university grants 2h of prep time per 1h of contact time for new courses. Commented Dec 27, 2018 at 16:29
  • 2
    @StrongBad These are good points and data but "not from the UK" should probably be "didn't train in the UK" or "didn't get first job in the UK". I can relate quite a lot to appletree's remarks and I was trained in the UK, I just happened to get my first "permanent" job in the North American system, and the UK system really does look OTT from that perspective
    – Yemon Choi
    Commented Dec 28, 2018 at 13:53

Many universities, including those in the UK and US, talk about the split between research, teaching and admin. A split of time of 40% research, 40% teaching, and 20% service is not atypical at an R1 university (e.g., UK Russel Group). Some schools might go as low 20% on teaching and others might go as high as 80%. Some schools allow you to "buy out" of teaching with grant income and give teaching releases to new faculty.

In the UK, the work year consists of about 1800 hours (37.5 hours per week times 48 weeks a year). With a 40% teaching load, you should be doing 720 hours of "teaching". Teaching obviously consists of more than just standing in front of students lecturing. My UK university developed a work load model to capture our teaching. We were credited with time for supervising undergraduate final year project students, our mandated office hours, marking, tutorials, and lecturing. For every hour of tutorial and lecture, we are given either 4 or 8 hours of prep time depending on if it is new teaching or not.

For my school, a standard load includes providing 15 hours of "teaching and prep" for each of 6 project students, 10 hours of first year tutorials, and 10 hours of second year tutorials, and 40 hours for office hours for a total of 230 hours. Over the course of the year we typically have to mark 400 essays and 100 lab reports at 0.25 and 0.5 hours each. This brings our "teaching" outside of regular classes to 380 hours. This means we need to provide about 68 classroom hours a year or 3.4 hours of teaching time every week of term time. Depending on what you mean by two course a year, in the UK that could very well equal 3.4 hours every week.

Our workload model tries to capture admin work in a very superficial way. We get credit for attending faculty meetings, away days, and department seminars, but do not get any "prep" time. Committees are banded based on expected number of hours spent. Some drastically underestimate the load and others are about right.


In my UK institution the expectation (at lecturer level, on the "balanced" role - neither teaching nor research specialized) is that the research/teaching/admin split is 40/40/20 %. How this splits into actual hours worked is a different matter.

The question, of course, is how much of the "teaching" or "research" percentage is "admin to support" teaching or research. My impression is that (in comparison the the US or Germany, which are the only other places I have limited experience of) the bulk of this admin is done directly by the lecturers in the UK, not by TAs or administrators.

As an explicit comparison, I will be responsible for 3 courses this year and will teach on 5, and will also do various PG training. Over the course of the year I expect this to fit within 40% of my time.


For the comparison with other countries, at French universities, lecturers and professors (which are both tenured position) have to teach 192 hours exercices classes/practicals or 128 lecture hours (or more generally a mix of both with 1 lecture hour counting for 1.5 exercice/lab hour) per year. Additional hours are payed and are not mandatory, but remain very common.

These are classroom hours and do not include preparation, marking, final project supervision or marking, teaching-related administration, etc. which are mandatory.

So, by French standard, 65 classroom hours per year are very light.

  • 2
    Having met a few French mathematicians, I think that a comparison of hours can be misleading. The nature and extent of the assistance one is expected to provide for students in the UK system appears, from my anecdotal sample, to be very different from what is expected in the French system
    – Yemon Choi
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 0:11
  • 2
    @Yemon Choi Indeed, from my experience in both countries, what is expected in the UK system is closer to what is done in small French universities, where one-to-one meetings with students and small group tutorials are relatively frequent compared to large universities. Commented May 16, 2017 at 8:30
  • 2
    That's interesting to know - thanks. I'm curious to know what French students feel they are "entitled to" in terms of their educational outcomes, but probably this comment thread isn't the right place for such a discussion
    – Yemon Choi
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 15:21

That's like nothing. In Pakistan people have a course load of three courses per semester (6 in a year) in addition to administrative duties and publishing. You don't get a TA. The number of students may range from 50 -100 per class.

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