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Support for Postgraduate Researchers who Teach

The University's Policy for supervisors and students in research postgraduate programmes requires that "doctoral students employed to teach or assess receive appropriate development for this purpose". This includes completing the mandatory courses provided by the Centre for Academic, Professional and Organisational Development (CAPOD) as well as "appropriate training and support throughout their time teaching" provided by the Schools.  CAPOD also provides additional support that postgraduates can access if they wish.  These options are all detailed in the information given below.

Research postgraduate students who are planning to do any teaching should read all of the following information, and the "Research Students as Teachers" section of the Research postgraduate programme policy.

Mandatory courses

Research postgraduates must complete mandatory courses before engaging in any teaching activities.  CAPOD runs two workshops for each Faculty in pre-sessional week before the start of each semester (as well as cross-Faculty workshops at the end of August and early October, to accommodate different start dates).

The purpose of the workshops is to ensure that all postgraduate teachers have a basic understanding of the UK educational environment, awareness of relevant St Andrews policies and the range of support available for students, and grounding in the basic skills they will need to teach groups of students and to mark student work effectively. 


Students must also complete the online course Diversity in the Workplace (opens in a new window) before attending the face-to-face workshops.  The online course Training in Good Academic Practice should have been completed as part of matriculation.


The workshops run from 1-5pm.  Students hoping to teach this academic year should sign up for one Tutoring and one Assessment workshop.  If students are unable to attend one or both of the workshops for their Faculty, they can sign up for any of the other sessions. Students can book a place on these workshops using the Personal Development Management System (PDMS). This also includes the venue and details of the course content.  Students should, where possible, attend the workshops just before the semester in which they first start teaching.


Semester 1 dates:

  • Tutoring and Demonstrating: An introduction (cross-Faculty) – Thurs 30th August 2018

  • Assessment and Academic Misconduct: An introduction (cross-Faculty) – Fri 31st August 2018

  • Tutoring & Demonstrating in the Sciences: An introduction – Tues 11th September 2018

  • Assessment and Academic Misconduct (Science): An introduction – Wed 12th September 2018

  • Tutoring in the Arts: An introduction – Thurs 13th September 2018

  • Assessment and Academic Misconduct (Arts): An introduction – Fri 14th September 2018

  • Tutoring and Demonstrating: An introduction (cross-Faculty) – Fri 28th September 2018

  • Assessment and Academic Misconduct: An introduction (cross-Faculty) – Tues 2nd October 2018


Semester 2 dates:

  • Tutoring in the Arts: An introduction – Tues 22nd January 2019

  • Assessment and Academic Misconduct (Arts): An introduction - Wed 23rd January 2019

  • Tutoring & Demonstrating in the Sciences: An introduction - Thurs 24th January 2019

  • Assessment and Academic Misconduct (Science): An introduction – Fri 25th January 2019

Support within the school

As noted in the Policy for supervisors and students in research postgraduate programmes, every "postgraduate teacher must be assigned a mentor to support them in their teaching role".  In addition to highly subject-specific training (eg on use of lab equipment or procedures), all tutors and demonstrators are entitled to an assessment practical before marking student work for the first time, and they should be peer observed according to the scheme in place within the School.

Optional taught modules

  • Introduction to University Teaching 1: Supporting Student Learning (ID5101)

  • Introduction to University Teaching 2: Curriculum Design and Assessment (ID5102)

These are 10-credit, Masters-level taught postgraduate modules. They are practice-based, professional development modules which emphasise reflection on practice. Staff and PGR students enrolling on these modules will be able to consider issues in more breadth and depth than is possible in the mandatory workshops to further enhance their learning and teaching skills. Although targeted primarily at postgraduate tutors and demonstrators, they are open to all staff with a teaching element to their role.

A pre-requisite for enrolling onto ID5101 is that participants be actively engaged in tutoring, demonstrating or lecturing.  For ID5102 you must be currently teaching or to have taught in the preceding semester.  The modules are not available within the advising system; enrolment is by application directly to the module co-ordinator, Dr Heather McKiggan-Fee.

A sample of what participants have said about the modules:

  • "I just wanted to say thanks for your help and for running these teaching modules. I think it's actually more important than anyone is really stressing at the moment to get that first foot on the HEA ladder - more or less all of the teaching jobs I've applied for over the last few months have asked specifically whether the candidate has any HEA accreditation."

  • "I always walked in with a problem and walked out with an ingenious solution, either suggested or inspired by colleagues or the teacher." (ID5101)

  • "Fantastic module. Really enjoyed it and felt it very helpful for continuing to develop my practice." (ID5101)

  • "I am keen to explore...integrating reflective writing into [my] module, as I have found this to be an invaluable exercise in my own development as a student on this course." (ID5101)

  • "I think it's helpful to be formally taught how to put a module together--everything from choosing topics to weighting them to making sure the assessment reinforces what you want your students to learn--and the philosophy behind it. Also, I loved being in an interdisciplinary group and learning about my colleagues' perspectives through the discussion and their module topics." (ID5102)

  • "I came out thinking and reflecting more about the aims of teaching & education.  I changed my approach." (ID5102)

Up until recently both modules were accredited by the Higher Education Academy, such that successful completion of either 10 credit module led to Associate Fellowship of the HEA. However, since the University has withdrawn its subscription to the HEA, the accreditation has also been withdrawn. To compensate for this, the University will cover the cost of individual route applications for module participants, and module participants will receive support in preparing those applications.


The online application forms for AY18-19 are available below (please note the dates of classes - attendance is a module requirement).  There are 14 places on each module; these are allocated as completed applications are received. The final deadline for applications for ID5102 is 25th January 2019, although it is possible that all places will have been allocated before then. There is a "reserve list" in case places become available after the start of semester.

Assessment on each module involves critical reflection on your own teaching practice, so to enrol on ID5101 you must be teaching in that semester, and for ID5102 you must be teaching that semester or have taught in semester 1.  To ensure that you are able to meet the module requirements your teaching must involve at least 4 separate teaching sessions (eg tutorials, lectures, labs) and there must be at least 3 weeks between the first and last session.

Recent module handbooks and module evaluation results are provided below for information, but please note the current modules may not follow exactly the same format.

An article on the modules is available in the online journal Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, vol 8, no 2: Postgraduates who teach: a forgotten tribe? Not here! and on the CAPOD Impact Blog.


Contact details

Dr Heather McKiggan-Fee
Educational Developer
Hebdomadars' Block
St Salvator's Quad
75 North Street

T: 01334 462141 

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