The employment of research students by departments

The University encourages the employment of research students in a number of capacities (e.g. as part-time teaching assistants, demonstrators, etc.), provided that this can be undertaken without detriment to the completion of the student's research and submission of the thesis within the original time limit for their degree. Such teaching helps to develop a broad range of personal and presentational skills which can be of considerable long-term benefit to the student concerned. Research students commonly have recent experience as recipients of teaching and are often well placed to assist in course delivery. Teaching also represents a valuable source of additional income for students. It must be stressed, however, that the scope for such employment varies widely between different departments and students should not assume that teaching opportunities will always be available.

The University accepts the following broad principles relating to the employment of research students as teachers:

  • Other things being equal, teaching work in departments should be shared out among research students as fairly as possible. No research students will be expected to teach unless they wish to, unless this is a condition of their bursary or scholarship.
  • All research students employed by the University should be assessed for their suitability before appointment.
  • Full-time research students will be restricted to maximum of 180 working hours per annum, including preparation time and marking. This figure is based on the rules relating to Research Council studentships.
  • Teaching work undertaken by research students should not adversely affect the student's submission deadline, and teaching commitments will not generally be regarded as a legitimate cause for an extension to the student's time limit or for the waiving of any additional fees incurred as a result of thesis submission being delayed.
  • Students involved in teaching should be given a written specification detailing their duties, including the total number of hours required in preparation, class contact hours and marking, the payment involved and the method of payment. University recommended rates of payment should be used.
  • All students involved in teaching should receive guidance and help regarding course content and delivery methods from the member of academic staff concerned and it is good practice for them to attend training courses covering the necessary teaching skills required.
  • Students involved in demonstrating will be given prior experience with equipment concerned and guidance regarding expected results and any potential problems.
  • Each department should have a member of staff responsible for the co-ordination of teaching undertaken by research students.
  • Responsibility for delivery and examination of modules taught by research students remains with the member of academic staff concerned.
  • Research students formally employed by the University are covered by the University's professional indemnity insurance policy in the same way as other members of staff.

Details of pay rates and how to determine pay for the University Bank are available from the Department of Human Resources

Payments will be authorised by departments on the completion of teaching duties or at the end of each semester in which teaching is undertaken, whichever comes first. The University has two Doctoral Development Programme units, covering laboratory-based demonstrating and classroom-based teaching in higher education and there is also a more extensive two-year Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education. These courses are available to research students who are also part-time teachers in the University. Short courses for research students employed as teachers are also offered via the Staff Development Team, on request, from academic departments.

The University has developed a protocol to manage the dual relationship that students may have with the University as both students and also employees or workers. The protocol clarifies procedures that may be invoked should action need to be taken against a student in either capacity.

Work permission for Tier 4 PGR students

International PGR students studying in the UK on a Tier 4 student visa are allowed to work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time.  The University recommends they should work no more than 16 hours per week to ensure an appropriate study-work balance.  Unlike other students, PGRs are considered to be in term time for the duration of the academic year, except during agreed periods of vacation (up to a maximum of 8 weeks) which must be agreed with the student's supervisor.

New immigration regulations now require all employers to obtain written proof from Tier 4 sponsored students of their terms time and vacation periods.  Further advice on what to do is available from SSID


The University believes that doctoral researchers should have the opportunity to undertake an internship where that will benefit their development or career opportunities. Any internship needs to be agreed with the supervisory team and should not adversely affect the student’s submission deadline. Students must be registered with the University and not yet have submitted their thesis. Students who wish to take a placement or internship during their studies which is unrelated to their research topic can apply to reclaim the time taken from their studies for this, enabling industrial or other placements whilst not disadvantaging the student by losing them time from their studies. Students who are granted permission to undertake a placement or internship are given a registration status of ‘PGR Placement’ which functions like a leave of absence whilst still giving the students access to the necessary University systems. If students are on programmes which require a placement as part of the programme, such as BBSRC PiPS, or wish to take a placement that directly relates to their research, this process is not applicable.

Unfortunately, due to immigration regulations, this scheme is not open to international students on a Tier 4 visa.

The associated Placements form must be completed before the start of the internship and should be checked and approved by the student’s supervisor and returned to the PGR Support Team in Research Services, who will update the student’s record and liaise with the Scholarships Officer to determine whether the funder should be notified.