I am wondering, for full time university teachers (not those who also have research responsibilities), what is generally the number of hours per week that they teach? I currently teach 20 hours per week and find the load quite heavy giving me little time to prep new modules with quality. Adding to that the responsibility of marking and it is not uncommon that I end up working more like 50-60 hours per week to teach 20.

Are these numbers average? High? Low?

  • 8
    What is a "typical university teacher"? What subject do they teach? How long have they been teaching? How quickly does their subject change? How many of their classes this year did they teach last year? Are they teaching Masters or Bachelors?
    – 410 gone
    Jan 25, 2013 at 7:28
  • @EnergyNumbers - Your questions are good, my question is across the board...how do they vary? I teach undergraduate now but am starting to teach some graduate modules and wonder what I should expect as time goes on.
    – earthling
    Jan 26, 2013 at 2:42

8 Answers 8


There is no “typical” number in this matter. Let's take a few examples:

  • UK, lecturer: it's usually a full-time position, so you have to put in 35-40 hours per week. The ratio of lecture time over all the rest (preparation, departmental committees, etc.) depends on the contract, but I have rarely seen it pushed past 1:1 (which means roughly 20 hours of teaching, maybe 25 at most).

  • France, "PRAG": this is the position of a high-School teacher detached to a university, and the closest one to a lecturer position. Their nominal teaching load is 384 hours per year, with a weight of 1.5 for lectures and 1 for exercises sessions. But for one the year is very short, from about 23 to 26 weeks, so that means about 15 hours per week, and this is only the nominal amount. In any cases, they (voluntarily or not) have to teach additional hours, which are paid in addition (to a lower rate than nominal hours).

  • As a point of comparison: a French high-school teacher would have 18 teaching hours per week.

Other comparison points, less relevant to the question as they are for teaching+research positions:

  • France, associate professor (maître de conférences): junior-level position, supposed to be half teaching and half research. This has a fixed number of 192 teaching hours per year. If you consider that those are spread on 30 weeks, it gives 6.4 hours per week. Even considering it is not a teaching-only position, that number is lower than the one you quote.

  • France, full professor (professeur des universités): same number of hours in theory, but as you gain seniority you can do more full-class teaching (with bigger groups), of which every hour counts as 1.5 hour in your yearly total. Through this, and other mechanisms, senior professors usually have fewer hours to teach.

  • 1
    Typically, a UK lecturer would also be expected to be research active Apr 28, 2014 at 20:35
  • The number for a French high school teacher depends on whether they are certifié (18 h/week) or agrégé (15 h/week).
    – user9646
    Nov 21, 2016 at 16:32

20 hours per week for most teaching only positions is normal. I have seen Profs with major research responsibilities that at times have had 20 hours of teaching as well.

My rule of thumb for a course: You will spend 2 to 3 times the amount of teaching you do preparing the first time you teach a course and this decreases as years go on for that same course (a new course requires considerable amount of time for preparation again).

First time I was teaching advanced thermodynamics and fluid mechanics courses I was spending two full days per 2 hours of teaching actually! but then after three years it was down to preparing 2 hours for 2 hours of teaching.

Your numbers seem right to me. In short 20 hours of teaching = virtually no time to do research.

  • 7
    and this decreases as years go on — [citation needed] 15 years into the job, it still takes me 5+ hours to prepare a 1-hour lecture for the first time.
    – JeffE
    Jan 25, 2013 at 4:49
  • @JeffE Well said! I meant it for the same course. If its a new course as you rightly say it will still take considerable amount of time. I updated the answer.
    – blackace
    Jan 25, 2013 at 5:00
  • "Normal" where? It's not normal here as far as I know, so you must have a place in mind...
    – user9646
    Nov 22, 2016 at 9:15

I assume you are talking about in term time teaching per week and not total teaching per year/52. I have never heard of a permanent full time position having a heavier teaching load than a 5-5. Some people then choose to teach summer courses (but this wouldn't effect you teaching hours per term week). Often this type of load includes some repetition so you might only have to prep 7 courses of which only 1 might be a new prep. The amount of classroom contact time for each course might be as low as 3 hours but could climb to 6. There might also be some office hour contact (which you might count as teaching contact). Many full time teaching jobs have lighter loads and can be as low as 3-3. Research intensive departments can have typical teaching loads as low as 1-1. Adjuncts often teach as high as 6-6 in order to make ends meet.

There is so much more than just the number of taught hours that influence teaching load. I think you need to look at number of classroom hours, number of unique preps, office hours, and marking.

  • 2
    What do the two numbers in "1-1", "5-5" mean? Jan 26, 2013 at 0:23
  • 5
    @FedericoPoloni: I think e.g. "1-1" means 1 course one semester, 1 course the second semester, assuming two semesters in the year. It is US terminology. Mar 22, 2013 at 21:11

It depends on the type of institution. at my university, a post 1992 UK university in Newcastle, myself and some other colleagues teach on average 14 hours a week! yes and you have to research and engage in administration, including marking (lots of it) meeting students, supervising both under and post graduate students. I have broken down finally. it was too much to bear and I am currently on sick leave. Hopefully, my hours of teaching will be reduced after this incident.

In pre 1992 universities, I understand the typical teaching load is 6 hours a week.


Depends to different parameters, but university generally expects each academic staff works

  • 40% research

  • 40% teaching

  • 20% involvement in committees and university meetings

Of course, different personalities have different interests to focus on either of research or teaching activities. That's why, some take more courses than others.

In addition to personal interests, needs of school is another issue. For instance imagine one of the lecturers needs to stay at hospital after injury in accident. Head of school asks one of the academic staff to cover his/her absent colleague.

  • 3
    A full teaching position is different from a general position. If they pay someone to teach they will make sure he teaches to the max and 60% of his time will not be spent on other things. The percentages you refer to in my understanding are for a normal research and teaching post not a teaching only position.
    – blackace
    Jan 25, 2013 at 5:09
  • Yes, percentages are for a normal position, which contributes in all areas.
    – antmw1361
    Jan 25, 2013 at 5:13

In the US teaching load is assigned in terms of courses or credit hours per year and varies heavily between "teaching schools" and research schools. For example, I currently teach undergraduates at a teaching school (i.e., it does virtually no research, but has the name university attached like most institutions) that has a load of 30 credit hours per year, and am moving to another teaching school that has a load of 33 credit hours per year.

At a research school nearby I know lecturers (no research) teach 3-3 (3 courses in the fall semester, 3 courses in the spring semester, and mostly 4 credit courses). Professors (researcher and teaching load) at the same school taught 2-2 (2 courses in fall, and 2 in spring).

A credit hour is approximately 15 lecture hours over the course of a semester, so these loads vary from 33*15=495 teaching hours per year (9.5 hours / week on a 52-week year), to 6*4*15 = 360 hours per year (6.9 hours / week on a 52-week year). For this spring semester I am currently teaching 11 hours of lecture per week and an additional 4 hours of lab sessions per week. My load is usually lighter in the summers, but not by that much.

  • This is enough time to prepare properly for courses I have taught several times before, but not enough for to teach new courses as well as I would like, particularly since I work in a fast-moving field. In a field with well-established curricula for undergraduates I imagine this would be easier.
    – Paul
    Apr 28, 2014 at 14:28
  • I expect a combination of factors to make this more manageable at my new school.
    – Paul
    Apr 28, 2014 at 14:30

In my university in Australia, my 60% time is teaching which translates into 360 hours for one year so about 10 hours per week. The other 20% is research and 20% admin (committees etc.) I feel exhausted.


A university teacher teaches 10-12 hours typically a week. Although this job has vast roles and preparation time for the lecture may vary depending on the topic.

My university lecturers had different teaching hours depending on the additional work assigned to them by university like assessing test papers, results, grad management.

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