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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
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    There is a problem with this question in that the position is traditionally called "assistant professor" in the US system while "lecturer" in the US is a teaching position. Your position is not teaching only I understand. – Dilworth Sep 9 at 16:53
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    From the description of the position it sounds like it's akin to a UK or Australian Lectureship - but as @dilworth says, it would be useful to clarify what country it is in. – Flyto Sep 14 at 19:02

14 Answers 14

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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
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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
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    RCUK grant applications usually regard a working year as 1,679 hours (36.5hrs a week * 46 weeks), not 1,800 – Ian Sudbery May 8 '18 at 15:41
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    Amusingly (I guess) my reading of the OP was "100 credit hours", or say, 50 hours per week, and I thought "hmmm, seems somewhat excessive". My U.S. lecturer position has me in front of students 360 total hours a year (or I guess recently reduced to 312). – Daniel R. Collins Sep 9 at 15:20
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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).

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    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
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    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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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
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    I'm non-permanent at a similar institution and have 120 hours of lectures a year. Clearly, your place is more friendly. – Ambicion Sep 9 at 19:27
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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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The bare data of "100 hours" is not very meaningful. In France (continuing the big list), the legal workload of a lecturer or professor is 192 hours of teaching per year, in all departments in all universities. There are serious caveats:

  • This number of hours corresponds to a number of "travaux dirigés", which google translates as "tutorials". It is understood that 1h of lecture is equivalent to 1.5h of tutorials. Therefore a professor (presumably in extremely good standing with their department) could theoretically teach 128h per year, assuming they focus on lectures and nothing else.
  • It is also understood that 1h of blackboard time corresponds to roughly 4h of total work time, including preparing the course, the exams, proctoring, grading, etc. Because French universities are dramatically underfunded, this also includes idiotic stuff like filling Excel tables with students' grades or booking lecture rooms yourself. So 192h is really 768h in theory. Multiply by 2 to account for research (the people who wrote the law are probably idealists) and you get 1536h, which is almost equal to the annual legal working time in France (1607h).
  • This workload has no provisions whatsoever regarding supervision of students: undergrad projects, master's theses, PhD theses. We do all this pretty much on a volunteering basis. Or it counts as "research", who knows.
  • Some administrative duties - heading a lab, a research team, a department, being responsible for a degree, a very large course, being on the administrative board, and so on - carry a teaching reduction. The reduction is somewhat laughable compared to the amount of work necessary for these duties.
  • Someone reasonably senior and with a good research record can get access to teaching buy-outs using grants or special kinds of sabbaticals that I don't feel like detailing. I know people who haven't taught the full 192h/year in years.

Having been appointed lecturer in France some time ago, I can only say that I wish my teaching workload was only half of what it currently is. I'd have to say that 100h/year is a rather good deal.

A humorous anecdote: in a committee constituted of international experts evaluating candidates for a three-year grant (that contained clauses for the aforementioned buyouts), a German colleague asked if the 192h mentioned on the applicants' files were referring to the entirety of the grant's duration, which was already funny in itself. For comparison, this third of 192h/year (64h/year) is what we ask of PhD students here.

5

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.

4

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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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.

3

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

3

My problem is that there doesn't seem to be an international standard to compare teaching loads of university staff on an international level. For US faculty, I have often read about the X-Y scheme, where X denotes the number of courses taught in spring, and Y the number of courses taught in fall. But how much workload or classroom hours does "one course" imply? Most people Herr talk about hours of teaching per year - but how do they spread over the year, considering semester weeks and breaks, preparation time and actual classroom hours?

In Germany, we talk about classroom hours. University professors typically have 9 classroom hours per semester, professors at universities of applied sciences 18 classroom hours. One such hour equates 45 minutes and is only to be done during semester. There is two semesters per year, lasting approximately 15 weeks each. Preparation times and exams are in top of those classroom hours. In other words: a university professor would face about 200 classroom (60min-)hours per year and is still expected to mostly focus on research, while preparatory/exam time comes on top of those 200 hours. A professor working for a university of applied sciences would look at 400 hours with almost no research obligations.

Is this anyhow comparable to the amount of hours discussed above?

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    In the US, most courses are "3 semester credit hours", which equates to 3 hours per week in the classroom for a roughly 15 week semester. Under this scheme, a single course would involve about 45 hours in the classroom. For someone with a (fairly standard for average research universities) 2+2 teaching load (2 courses in the fall semester and 2 in the spring), this comes out to 180 hours per year. Most faculty in the US teach at institutions that are not research universities with loads of 3+3, 4+4, or even 5+5. 100 hours per year in the classroom is extremely light by US standards. – Brian Borchers Sep 9 at 16:13
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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.

2

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.

2

My experience in UK Russell group university engineering:

  • Every Lecturer is expected to teach 2-3 modules. Each module has ~35 contact hours (lectures, tutorials, labs). So, 100 hours sounds about right.
  • In addition, we have 10-12 undergraduate/graduate(MSc) project supervisions that we need to meet on a weekly basis.
  • We also have weekly tutorial meetings (some academic some pastoral).

When you bring funding, you buy out teaching and this goes down.

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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.

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    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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