Policy on Teaching Activities for Research Staff (Pathway 2 Academics)

This policy is to ensure fair and transparent access to teaching activities for research staff [1] with a particular focus on opportunities to teach for early career researchers (Research Associates at level a and Senior Research Associates at level b). It also covers the allocation of teaching activities which may form part of the role for more senior research staff (Research Fellows at level c and above). Aligned with this policy, research staff taking on teaching activities are expected to engage in appropriate continuing professional development (CPD) around their teaching, especially those who are new to the University of Bristol. Any questions around teaching related CPD opportunities can be directed to the Bristol Institute of Learning and Teaching (BILT).

1. Introduction

1.1     The University of Bristol recognises and values the significant contribution that research staff make to teaching, assessment and supervision of our undergraduate and postgraduate students. Undertaking teaching activities is not only beneficial to research staff themselves in terms of career development but represents a valuable opportunity to schools to make use of their skills, and to enhance the experience for students by exposing them to a wider diversity of the academic community.

1.2     The University is a signatory of the Concordat to support the career development of researchers. Facilitating and supporting fair and transparent access to teaching opportunities presents an important part of supporting the careers of researchers who might aspire to develop into an academic role that includes teaching and research activities. Principal Investigators (PIs) or other managers of research staff are responsible for supporting the career development of the researchers they oversee, and therefore are responsible for actively supporting research staff in making use of opportunities to develop their skills and experience as appropriate.

1.3     The University employs academic staff on three different pathways, and this policy is written in the context of the different roles profiles of the three pathways. Pathway 2 is the pathway for academic staff whose main focus is research. Teaching opportunities are included within all of the individual role profiles at each level on pathway 2 (role profiles) and research staff are encouraged to engage in these. However, it is important that teaching activities are managed appropriately within colleagues’ wider workload and with reference to the terms and conditions of their funding [2]. The University has an obligation to ensure that research staff at all levels are appropriately trained, supported and mentored to carry out any teaching activities.

1.4   This policy identifies principles of good practice applicable across the University whilst recognising that there may be a need for flexibility in the application of these underlying principles depending on the needs and interests of both individual research staff and the schools in which they are employed.

2. Opportunities to teach and workload allocations

2.1    Research staff may be given development opportunities to undertake teaching activities, consonant with their role profile and appropriate to their knowledge, skills and experience:

2.2    Research staff may contribute to both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. They may also act as an official Co-supervisor for a PGR student, in agreement with the Faculty PGR Director and in accordance with the Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes (section 5). Supervision requirements, and responsibilities of supervisor teams, are set out below:

“The minimum requirements for supervision of all PGR students are:

Each research student must have a supervisory team comprising at least two supervisors, including a main supervisor who has primary responsibility for supervisory support and in whose school the student should normally be registered. The main supervisor is always responsible for the regulatory and procedural elements of supervision (as defined in the Regulations and Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes) but another member of the supervisory team may take the lead for the key intellectual input. All members of the supervisory team must have defined roles and responsibilities, which must be communicated to the student.” 

Research staff can be appointed and formally named as Co-Supervisors if appropriate to reflect and acknowledge their contribution to supervision activities. Any such activities must be included in their workload allocation (see clause 2.8). The University aims to offer opportunities to research staff to act as Co-supervisors, whilst there is no entitlement to such opportunities.

2.3    All research staff should be made aware of any teaching opportunities open to them and the process for getting involved in these, although it is recognised that such opportunities will vary across schools, dependent on the subject and/or mode(s) of delivery. These opportunities should be identified and communicated through a school-level process with sufficient notice, ideally in the preceding academic year, to allow for workload planning and training. (See Appendices 1 and 2 for examples of how this process might be set up).

2.4    Teaching opportunities should not be allocated by individual PIs/ managers of research staff, and workload allocations should record accurately the member of staff undertaking the work. Schools will be expected to record all teaching allocations. P2 staff who teach and who are already full-time will undertake any teaching activity as part of their role workload allocation and therefore there will not receive additional remuneration. P2 staff who are not full-time may teach through a Teaching Support Role contract and can be paid on top of their P2 role if the teaching is outside of their P2 contract. If a P2 member of staff is employed full-time and is taking on significant teaching responsibilities which exceed the hours allowed by the funder, schools should consider reducing their fte on their substantial contract (which can potentially extend the duration of their funding) and employ them separately through a Teaching Support role contract. It is expected that the School ensures their P2 staff are fully informed of which situation is most applicable to them when discussing teaching opportunities.

2.5    The process and arrangements for selecting research staff to be involved in teaching activities should be fair and transparent. Selection will be based on teaching and assessment requirements and on the staff member’s relevant skills, knowledge and experience. Schools are expected to manage teaching opportunities and allocation centrally within their school. This central allocation process must include agreement by the member of staff’s PI/manager and will need to be approved by the Head of School (or delegate). If a member of research staff would like to take up an opportunity to teach but their PI/manager is not supportive of this, the conversation may be escalated to the Head of School (or delegate) with the aim to resolve this issue and to ensure that research staff have fair access to development opportunities such as teaching without compromising the progress of the research project they are employed on.

2.6    Teaching by research staff must be a voluntarily activity, and/or explicitly defined as part of the recruitment process (see clauses 3). If a member of research staff feels pressured to undertake teaching activities, this issue should be raised with the Head of School (or delegate) and the relevant Human Resources Business Partner, with the aim to resolve this issue and to ensure that teaching activities are both offered and allocated to those individuals who wish to engage with these opportunities.

2.7    Research staff must not spend more than 6 hours per week (or pro rata) on teaching activities averaged across the year, or the number specified in the policy of the funder, whichever is the fewer. This includes all preparation, assessment, feedback and marking. For the avoidance of doubt, these 6 hours of teaching activities include all activities set out in clause 2.1, including research and project supervision.  These 6 hours of teaching shall only count towards the research staff’s career development time (of 10 days per annum/pro-rata as set out in the Concordat to support the career development of researchers) if the teaching activity is a development opportunity (opted in) for the individual.

2.8    All teaching activity must be factored into school workload allocation models for all staff, as specified in clause 2.4 above and in accordance with working time regulations and workload agreement for all academic staff.

2.9    Research staff should not normally take on an academic personal tutor role. They should, however, be made aware of the University’s system of pastoral support and know how to direct students to appropriate members of staff if the need arises. More experienced research staff may also provide pastoral support in certain situations (for example when supervising a PGR student). In these situations the school should ensure there is clarity around what their role is, and that it is in compliance with the University’s Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes (section 5).

3. Research Fellows and senior research staff

3.1      There may be research staff appointed to level c and above, or externally funded fellows hosted by the University (on any grade), where teaching activities form part of the role (see role profiles). Where this is the case, all teaching activity has to be in compliance with funder terms and conditions, and also has to be in support of the career development of the individual. When recruiting research staff into roles which include the requirement to teach, this must be clearly stated at recruitment stage and included in job descriptions, and must not contravene the terms and conditions of the member of staff’s funding.

3.2      Research staff must not spend more hours on teaching than allowed by their funder. The hours recorded for teaching must be averaged across the year, including all preparation, assessment, feedback and marking. For the avoidance of doubt, these teaching activities include all activities set out in clause 2.1, including research and project supervision. Where teaching forms part of the role, these hours spent on teaching shall not count towards the research staff’s career development time (of 10 days per annum/pro-rata as set out in the Concordat to support the career development of researchers).

3.3      It is the school’s responsibility to ensure that any teaching requirements do not contravene the terms and conditions of the member of staff’s funding. If a member of research staff feels that the amount of teaching required of them is detrimental to their career development and therefore not compliant with clause 1.2, this should be raised with the Head of School (or delegate) and the relevant Human Resources Business Partner, with the aim to resolve this issue and to ensure that teaching activities do not have a detrimental effect on the progress of the individual’s research project or their career development.

3.4       All teaching activity must be factored into school workload allocation models for all staff as set out in clause 2.4.

3.5      Senior Research staff may be involved in the management and leadership of teaching within the school only so far as is appropriate in relation to their role profile, which would normally apply only to role profiles level c and above. Any management and leadership of teaching must be included in the hours allowed by their funder per week (see clause 3.2).

4. Training and support

4.1      All pathway 2 staff who teach must attend at least one of the training courses provided by the Bristol Institute for Learning and Teaching (Research Staff | Bristol Institute For Learning and Teaching | University of Bristol) or an appropriate equivalent within their faculty/school, unless they have a teaching in HE qualification. It is the school’s responsibility to ensure that all staff who teach have completed at least introductory training on teaching within the Higher Education context.

4.2      Research staff must also receive an induction to school teaching practices within their area to cover information relevant to the teaching activities they will be involved in. It will be the responsibility of the Head of School (or delegate) to ensure this is appropriately designed and delivered.

4.3      For some pathway 2 staff who have more significant teaching duties, the CREATE CPD scheme or other continuing professional development sessions offered by BILT may also be appropriate. These can be discussed with the BILT team. Colleagues on proleptic contracts should contact their Head of School or delegate and Academic Staff Development (Academic staff development | Staff Development | University of Bristol)  to talk about their specific situation and how they may best be supported.

4.4      Schools are expected to assign a more experienced colleague to mentor each member of research staff in all aspects of their teaching. To avoid any conflict of interest, and to be consistent with good mentoring practice, the mentor should not be the member of staff’s PI/manager. The mentor is responsible for providing guidance and support on local teaching and assessment practices and for giving them feedback on their teaching.

4.5      Research staff should be involved in communications, discussions and planning around the teaching they are involved with. This includes relevant staff meetings and email lists so that they receive information directly and are considered an integral part of the teaching team.

4.6      A discussion about teaching opportunities and current responsibilities should be included within the annual Development Review process for each member of research staff.

5. Quality Assurance

5.1      Schools must include pathway 2 staff on records of all individuals involved in delivering their teaching programmes. Research staff should also be named on teaching unit forms when contributing to the teaching and named as co-supervisors on PGR paperwork where appropriate (see clause 3.5).

5.2      The involvement of research staff in the delivery of teaching should be managed and reviewed within existing School processes, with the overall learning experience of the students in mind. The quality of this experience will be central to the decision making about the type, content and amount of teaching undertaken by any member of research staff.

5.3      As part of standard University quality assurance processes, the School (through the programme or unit directors) must evaluate the performance of research staff who teach in the same way they do for other staff in order to ensure that students receive teaching of the appropriate quality.


Appendix 1 - SCEEM Opportunity to deliver teaching events/project supervision (PDF, 151kB)

Appendix 2 - CAME RA Teaching Opportunities Application Form (Example) (PDF, 47kB)


[1] For a full list of activities which are counted as teaching activities, please refer to point 2.1.

[2] It is the school’s responsibility to ensure compliance with the individual funders’ terms and conditions. For example, UKRI funded research staff need to comply with condition RGC 8.0 Staff: Providing that it is related to the research project on which they are currently working, Research staff and Research Fellows may, during normal working hours, undertake teaching and demonstration work, includingassociated training, preparatory, marking and examination duties, and NHS clinical sessions for up to an average of 6 hours a week (pro rata for part-time staff) calculated over the period that they are supported on the grant.