Determination of the duties of lecturing staff

These guidelines are issued in order to achieve the following objectives:

  • to achieve education provision of a high standard;
  • to recognise the professional contribution which lecturers make to the HE sector;
  • to avoid lecturers undertaking unreasonable workloads;
  • to enable the distribution of work to be carried out locally and fairly within an institution taking into account the local circumstances.

The duties and responsibilities of a lecturer are inherently of a professional nature and wide ranging. They include direct teaching, tutorial guidance to students' learning, research and other forms of scholarly activity, curriculum development, educational management and administration, participation in the democratic processes of the institution (committee membership etc), participation in quality assurance procedures, recruitment and admission of students, staff appraisal, income generating activities, and representing the institution on or to appropriate external bodies.

The proportion of time an individual should devote to any of these activities is a matter for professional judgement, which is necessarily made on an individual basis, bearing in mind the needs of both the individual lecturer and the institution.

Both staff and management jointly have a responsibility to seek to enhance the quality of educational provision, but at the same time to increase access to higher education to all sectors of the population, since the extent to which this is achieved is also a measure of the quality of the service. To this end there is mutual concern to improve flexibility and to bring about changes in working practices and methods of delivery, supported by a commitment to the professional development of staff.

Workloads which damage performance and which are detrimental to the lecturer, students and the service must be avoided through good management practice in which academic managers (Deans of Faculties, Subject Lecturers, Course Tutors etc) and their colleagues collectively determine optimum working practices which safeguard standards for all aspects of a lecturer's role, and for individuals to manage their time in a fully professional way towards individual and corporate objectives.

Working hours

On the matter of the working week, it is not appropriate in a professional contract to be specific as to the exact hours of availability for duties; moreover, it is accepted that in the case of the obligation to undertake research and other scholarly activity that obligation will not necessarily require attendance at the institution. In relation to teaching duties a reasonable norm may be helpful at institutional level. Such a norm should be comparable with those of related professional groups; it is not to be regarded as either a minimum or maximum.

Owing to the range of teaching and learning methods involved and the different needs in various subject areas, a precise specification of teaching hours is neither possible nor appropriate in a professional contract. As a general guide, however, an individual lecturer may normally expect to have formal scheduled teaching responsibilities for students within a band of 14 to 18 hours a week on average over the anticipated teaching year of that lecturer.

The teaching responsibilities of lecturers are defined by their "formal scheduled teaching responsibilities" as detailed below. These should not exceed 18 hours in any week or a total of 550 hours in the teaching year. However, this provision will not apply in subject areas where the nature of the curriculum and teaching style make it inappropriate such as aspects of Teacher Education, Art, Design, Performing Arts, and Music: in these subject areas scheduled teaching will be determined in accordance with the paragraph above

"Formal scheduled teaching" is intended to mean teaching and other learning events which are either specifically timetabled or otherwise planned, and which are explicitly included in the definitive validated course submissions.

"Teaching" includes:-

  • instruction methods drawn from the definitive validated course submissions such as lectures, tutorials, seminars and other formal pedagogic work;
  • direct supervision of the project and/or dissertation elements of courses as found in the definitive validated course submissions;
  • direct supervision of higher degrees by research.

It is in the nature of industrial placement visits and field trips that there are some elements which can legitimately be related to formal scheduled teaching. Deans of Faculties and others involved in the process are required to consider the impact of these responsibilities on the formal scheduled teaching responsibilities of individual lecturers, and adjust them where this is desirable and practicable.

Formal scheduled teaching does not include:-

  • invigilating and marking;
  • pastoral care of students such as counselling, welfare, and guidance;
  • research and other forms of scholarly activity;
  • curriculum development, including identification of consumer requirements; planning, development and evaluation of courses and course materials and supervision of course provision;
  • educational management and administration, including administration and management of education and training programmes and may include responsibilities related to publicity and public relations. (Note:- It is acknowledged that the management and administration work for courses which have large numbers of students enrolled is greater than that for smaller courses. Deans of Faculties will have regard to this in determining workloads);
  • participation in the processes of the institution, e.g. committee membership, quality assurance procedures, recruitment and admission of students;
  • income generating activities;
  • representing the institution on or to appropriate external bodies;
  • participation in staff development and staff appraisal processing and in-service training;
  • such other duties as may reasonably be required by the University having regard to the general principles used in these definitions.

Where possible, in arranging a lecturer's timetable special regard should be given to the family responsibilities of individual lecturers.

Factors to be taken into account

The specific teaching responsibilities of an individual lecturer, and the time to be devoted to other duties, is a matter for discussion between the lecturer and the relevant line manager (e.g. Dean of Faculty and will be such as to enable the lecturer to be effective in the overall discharge of his/her professional responsibilities. In allocating responsibilities, the following factors shall be taken into account:

  • the full range and extent of actual duties to be performed;
  • personal development needs both as a teacher and as a subject specialist, and in relation to research and other scholarly activity and to overall career development;
  • teaching experience;
  • the number of students for whom there would be overall responsibility;
  • teaching group sizes, with particular regard for methods requiring interaction (e.g.seminars), and the assessment implications;
  • differing subject needs;
  • the teaching methods appropriate;
  • the number and range of the curricula to be taught, with particular consideration given to the development and delivery of new (for the lecturer) and innovative courses;
  • the desirability of achieving a reasonable balance of activities;
  • wider internal and external responsibilities;

Regard for the implications in lecturers' workloads should be had at the appropriate stages of course and institutional planning, particularly in relation to those courses having specific professional demands.


Determination of a lecturer's duties will normally be achieved by annual consultation between the Dean of Faculty and the individual lecturer, and should be linked to the institution's procedures for staff development and appraisal. However, there should be fairness in the allocation of overall duties and equal opportunities for all staff to develop their professional skills. Moreover, it will be important to maintain an ongoing review of the situation so as to adjust to changing circumstances and to deal with any difficulties which might occur. To these ends;

  • the outcome of the process should be open within each Faculty;
  • senior management has a responsibility to maintain an overview to ensure a measure of consistency across the institution in the application of these guidelines;
  • the institution has effective procedures to deal with grievances or disputes over the allocation of duties and the application of these guidelines, at both the individual and collective levels. Where appropriate, the recognised lecturer union is involved at both levels.