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I have recently been appointed as a lecturer in a scientific department. This is a permanent position. The responsibilities of the position include: teaching, conducting high level research, administration tasks, mentoring and supervising students. The teaching load is 100 hours/year, which I found a little bit excessive.

My question is: are 100 hours of teaching a heavy load or is this common in academic institutions (universities)? In particular, scientific departments (chemistry, mathematics, physics ...).

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – eykanal Jun 27 '17 at 14:17

11 Answers 11

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The load seems reasonable for an established lecturer, but is a little heavy, by UK standards, for a first year lecturer. It might be worth asking for a partial teaching (or marking or tutoring) release for the first year.

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 a UK Russel Group university. 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". I have never heard of a Russel Group university with a teaching load lower than 30%. The non-Russel Group universities I am familiar with don't go above 60% teaching time.

Teaching obviously consists of more than just standing in front of students lecturing. My UK university work load model credited us with time for supervising undergraduate final year project students, our mandated office hours, marking, tutorials, and lecturing.

We typically had 40 office hours (2 hours per week of the two 10 week semesters) and 150 grading hours. This left about 530 hours of traditional teaching time (tutorials, lectures, and practicals). 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. This means an established teacher would have 132.5 hours of lecturing a year and a new lecturer would have 66.25 hours of lecturing a year.

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    4 or 8 hours prep time?!?!? We get 4 for a brand new course, 1 else (even if you're taking over from someone else, which means you have to prep a lot yourself). – Jessica B Jun 27 '17 at 4:34
  • @JessicaB The question is: "What is included in prep time?" You might need to design weekly exercise sheets, you might need to write a script/lecture notes, maybe you need to discuss with TAs or students, etc. If it is only "read the text you will write at the black board once", then 8 hours is of course a little bit much... – Dirk Jun 27 '17 at 9:07
  • @Bemte Writing exercise sheets and lecture notes is included within that time. So is getting to and from the lecture, and dealing with students' queries after the lecture or at any other time. We don't have any TAs to talk to. – Jessica B Jun 27 '17 at 9:28
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    @JessicaBjess so are you standing in front of students 300+ hours a year, or is your research/teaching/administration breakdown different. What I didn't mention was that the workload model was developed such that we could justify 40% teaching time with our 100+ contact hours a year. – StrongBad Jun 27 '17 at 11:10
  • @JessicaB: Would agree with you. I've heard maybe double time in preparation ( 2 hours preparation per hour lecture time ). Time needed can of course vary if you need to reinvent and reproduce everything ( brand new course ) or just get to learn already produced material. – mathreadler Jun 27 '17 at 19:33
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From a Spanish perspective, 100 hours per year is tiny. In the University of Barcelona, most full time lecturers are expected to deliver 240 blackboard hours a year. Even part time lecturers teach up to 180 hours a year. The only kind of lecturers that teach less than 100 hours a year are those in the lowest ranks of part time lecturers, who just teach 2 or 3 hours a week (60 or 90 hours a year).

  • What are the publication expectations? We are expected to put out at least one paper in an >15 IF journal every 3 years. – Ian Sudbery May 8 '18 at 15:29
  • Full time professors may get teaching load reduction for great research productivity. However, at Barcelona University (the case I know) the most productive researchers still have to teach 120 hours a year, which is a large reduction but still higher than the 100 hours/year asked by the OP. – Pere Feb 2 at 11:25
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My teaching load is not measured in hours, so I'm not sure if it compares directly with yours. In any case, my "blackboard time" is about 130 hours per year (4 classes). On top of that, preparing assignments and exams, marking exams, office hours, mentoring of graduate students, committee work, and a research program.

Many departments I know have a lighter load, that would imply close 100 hours per year.

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    In which country and discipline, may I ask? – henning Jun 27 '17 at 8:07
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    Canada. Area, Math, but what I say applies with very small differences to any other area. – Martin Argerami Jun 27 '17 at 8:29
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    I'm not so sure. I've 80 "blackboard hours" per year in Austria as a postdoc. Other answers here suggest an even larger variety: 240 in Spain and even ~ 600 in India. – henning Jun 27 '17 at 8:41
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    The median teaching requirement among top-30 math departments for full professors would likely be 2/1/1 on quarters or 2/1 on semesters, which would correspond to 120-135 blackboard hours. Some are as high as 180 (2/2 teaching is not at all unreasonable). Some departments in the top 10-15 have reduced their requirements in the past few years to 1/1/1 or 1/1, which would be 90 blackboard hours. This is about as good a deal as you will find is the US. – Tom Church Jun 27 '17 at 18:14
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I'm in mechanical engineering at the University of California, Davis. Here are the typical "blackboard" hours per year (9 month positions):

Research Faculty (60% research, 30% teaching, 10% service)

  • 1st year: 84
  • 2nd and on: 126

Teaching Faculty (70% teaching, 20% research, 10% service)

  • 1st year: 210
  • 2nd and on: 252

Full time lecturer (100% teaching)

  • 378
2

In China's practice, the main part of the work of a lecturer in an institute of higher learning is to teach, so 100 hours is only the workload for him within a semester. The good thing is that at least the teacher can have more exchanges of ideas with the young people.

1

I would suggest to compare this workload within your university and with those closest to your situation(recently hires, salary, benefits etc). If this workload turns out to be same as everyone else's than accept it. Good luck with your job.

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In institutes of technology in Ireland a lecturer currently delivers 17 contact hours per week for two semesters of 13 weeks each, giving 442 contact hours per year (this applies in institutes that are semesterised, which is the majority of them). For several years until recently the weekly load was 18 contact hours.

There is also the more junior Assistant Lecturer grade in the institutes of technology, which basically means that there are an extra 2 contact hours per week, giving 494 contact hours per year.

I should clarify that these are hours in a classroom in front of students: preparation time and setting, marking and administration of exams and assessments are separate from this, as of course is research.

Contact hours in universities in Ireland are another story and they vary somewhat beween universities and departments. When I lectured in a maths department in one of them, I typically had 6 contact hours per week giving about 156 contact hours per year.

So 100 contact hours per year would probably not be considered excessive by an Irish academic.

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In New Zealand, in my department, we also have 100 contact hours per year. These hours only include lectures and not tutorials or laboratories.

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Since this is turning into a big-list summary of practices in each country: in Italy, the typical load is:

  • 120 or more hours/yr for a professor (full or associate)
  • 70-80 for a tenure-track position
  • 60-66 for a junior research position.

80 and 66 are hard limits, at least in my institution, 120 is not --- some take more hours of teaching (kind of) voluntarily, and some get away with fewer --- especially those that have administrative roles. This applies to all university staff; in the Italian system there is no separate lecturer position focused on teaching.

Our system, though, requires you to spend more time on exams than in other countries; for instance, for some courses I have to offer the students up to 8-9 attempts per year to take the exam.

This, plus lecture prep and office hours (which are not counted in these calculations) means that you spend more time teaching than those numbers seem to imply.

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That's not much, to be honest, many university lecturers in India are expected/made to deliver 100 hours in 2/3 months.

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At my university, a typical teaching load varies from 200-300 hours/year. If you are worried that 100 hours is excessive, being a lecturer may not be the right fit for you.

  • In some countries, e.g. the U.K., "lecturer" is an academic rank, analogous to "assistant professor" in the U.S. – PersonX May 8 '18 at 14:52

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