University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)

Support of Part-Time Teachers


To ensure that all tutors and demonstrators provide a high-quality teaching and learning experience for students.


  1. To monitor the quality of demonstrators and tutors throughout the Department.
  2. To train postgraduate demonstrators, in laboratories and problems classes.
  3. To provide a robust and effective mentoring system for new tutors.
  4. To ensure that marking carried out by postgraduates is fair and transparent.

Rationale and Background

The Department uses postgraduates as demonstrators in laboratories and problems classes, and post-doctoral staff as tutors, both to enhance the learning experience of students, and to maintain the teaching load of its permanent academic staff at a reasonable level.

Involving young researchers at the beginnings of their careers in the teaching of our undergraduates has clear benefits, but also calls for robust procedures to ensure that adequate training is given to these teachers, to ensure the high quality of their teaching.


  1. All postgraduate and postdoctoral teachers have a permanent academic member of staff who supervises their activities, and upon whom they can call for advice and assistance. In laboratories this would be a Laboratory Co-ordinator or the Module Leader as appropriate, in problems classes, the Problem Class Co-ordinator and for tutors the Student Co-ordinator.
  2. Training or mentoring is provided for the teaching activities undertaken by postgraduate and postdoctoral teachers:
  3. In all the above activities, written guidelines are available in the Department Handbook and further details are included in the appropriate module folders.
  4. Where postgraduates are required to mark student work, clear written guidelines are provided, and the supervisor of the teaching activity ensures that these are adhered to. Minor inconsistencies which inevitably occur between markers are removed by rotating markers, or by ensuring that all students' work on a particular occasion is marked by one marker. If students are uncertain about why they have received a particular mark, then they are encouraged to discuss this first with the marker, and then if necessary with the supervisor.
  5. Monitoring is achieved formally through questionnaires which are fed into the module and programme monitoring system. However most problems would be identified well before this by the module leader, or raised at Student/Staff Liaison Committee.

University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)