Teaching at university for doctoral students: raising awareness amongst the postgraduate community

Evidence from the past decade suggests that postgraduate research students (PGRs) are increasingly being used to support the teaching needs of an expanding UK higher education sector. This growth has both pros and cons. On the one hand, teaching opportunities can provide PGRs with valuable income and learning experiences, while on the other, the casual employment of PGRs raises issues of ‘exploitation’ and, if inadequately supported, lead to poor quality teaching.

Anna Pilz and I were recently invited to speak at an event held at Salford University for postgraduate student representatives. I am responsible for GTA training at Liverpool while Anna is a final year research student in the Institute of Irish Studies who has gained a range of teaching experiences during her postgraduate study. She is currently writing up her thesis on the topic of ‘Late 19th Century Irish Drama’.

The session, which was attended by representatives from throughout the North West Region, reviewed areas of teaching activity for postgraduate students and the potential benefits that this type of work offers. Discussion then went onto explore concerns about this form of teaching and how the postgraduate community could address these. This formed the basis for an agenda that participants could take forward into their practice. The session was very well received and is another example of the value of the good working relationship that exists between Educational Development and University of Liverpool Guild of Students.

Evidence from the past decade suggests that postgraduate research students are increasingly being used to support the teaching needs of an expanding UK higher education sector. This growth has both pros and cons. On the one hand, teaching opportunities can provide PGRs with valuable income and learning experiences, while on the other, the casual employment of PGRs raises issues of ‘exploitation’ and, if inadequately supported, lead to poor quality teaching.

Stuart McGugan