Part-time teaching

Online Workshopping at Bath Spa University

Part-Time Tutors’ Development Initiative

“The possibility to talk with other PTT was most effective”;


Whatever title they are given – `visiting lecturers’, `hourly paid tutors’, `adjuncts’ `special lecturers’- and whether they be on fractional permanent contracts or paid hourly, part-time staff make up an increasing number of those teaching in the discipline. Hourly-paid staff plug the gaps, sometimes temporarily, sometimes long-term. It is no longer the case that the position of the part-time lecturer can be seen as temporary – a rite of passage which must be endured before a full-time post is obtained.

The way in which part-time lecturers are inducted and supported as colleagues within a Department is a matter of considerable concern. Arrangements vary widely and generalisations are difficult. Some Departments give office space and a computer. Some work on the rule that tutors will be paid only for the period of active teaching; others factor in funds for marking and student support. It is rare for a part-time member of staff to deny that s/he doesn’t feel exploited in some sense or that they feel that their altruism is sometimes taken for granted by their colleagues.

It is no longer appropriate to assume that part-time teachers are young and inexperienced, nor is it appropriate to assume that developing a research profile is something that can wait. Part-time staff need to be integrated into the information mechanisms and collective decision-making processes of the department. While fractional staff have a much better opportunity to make long term plans and to create relationships within the department than those working on an hourly basis, there are still hurdles which stand in the way of full involvement.

The English Subject Centre organises events and gathers together resources and information both for those working on a part-time basis and for those working to support part-time teachers within their departments. In 2009 our event Creative Writing and Part-time Teaching: no longer just an apprenticeship attracted over 40 delegates. The demand for this event was no doubt a result of the meteoric rise of Creative Writing degrees in the last decade and the attendant rise in the number of part-time Creative Writing staff. You can read Professor Maggie Butt’s frank keynote address where she discusses the balancing act that any part-time lecturer must master in WordPlay magazine (Issue 1, 2009). You can see further details of the event our event archive.

Since 2008 we have also offered Great Expectations, the very popular twice-yearly event for postgraduates who are just beginning to teach English Literature. For general guidance regarding part-time teaching you may wish to consult the print resource Part-time Teaching a Good Practice Guide (2004) which draws on the experience of tutors in a number of different contexts, as well as advice from lecturers with considerable part–time experience, together with consultation with colleagues from the Higher Education Academy with expertise on the national policy agenda on part-time teaching.

Colleagues with involvement in the issue of part-time staff may also be interested in the resources provided in the ‘Additional reference’ area.