UCL Human Resources


PGTA Code of Practice FAQs

Frequently asked questions on the code of practice for Postgraduate Teaching Assistants (PGTAs).


1)  Is there a standard approach to PGTA recruitment across departments? 

UCL recognises that departments need some flexibility, however, we strongly encourage departments to advertise roles on the UCL PGTA hub wherever possible.  2.1 of the PGTA Code of Practice sets out the principles that should be followed when recruiting PGTAs.

Training and professional membership

 2) Does the AFHEA (Associate Fellowship - Higher Education Academy) accreditation give an advantage to candidates applying for PGTAs positions?

Yes. It demonstrates an understanding of specific aspects of effective teaching, learning support methods, and student learning.  Further information is set out on the Advance HE webpage.  PGTAs who hold the fellowship should reference it in their application and interview when demonstrating relevant knowledge and skill.

3) How many hours of training are included in a PGTA contract?

That will depend on the individual and their previous training/experience. The department should inform their PGTAs what training they must attend and how many hours they will be paid to attend training, for example through the PGTA proforma.  If PGTA staff have separate contracts or assignments, they will not need to undertake the mandatory training more than once, unless a refresher is required.  

4) Is it possible to choose training courses or do the hours cover only mandatory training?

If a PGTA wishes to undertake a non-mandatory course that is relevant to their role, they should discuss this with their line manager/module tutor and check if the department will agree to fund their attendance, before undertaking the course. 

5) Is the Arena training part of the contract?

UCL’s Arena Centre for Research-based Education offers a scheme for the training and development of PGTAs, called UCL Arena for PGTAs. Staff with teaching and/or assessment responsibilities are required to attend an introductory UCL Arena for PGTAs Gateway Workshop (the Arena team may approve an exemption, where a PGTA can document that they have attended a similar workshop). Similarly, PGTAs are not required to attend this course if they are reappointed and attended in their first appointment at UCL. The Gateway Workshop constitutes the minimum required attendance of professional development activity as required by the Quality Assurance Agency.  Departments should inform their PGTAs of this requirement and monitor their attendance.
PGTAs should also have the option of attending an extended course, the UCL Arena for PGTAs Teaching Associate Programme, and then applying for an Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.  PGTAs with a teaching role that includes assessment and feedback should be strongly encouraged to attend the Teaching Associate Programme. Faculties or departments may wish to consider making attendance mandatory for certain categories of PGTA. 

6) Are PGTA staff paid for doing Gateway/TAP courses? 

PGTA staff who are required to attend a course should be paid for their attendance. PGTAs who are unsure whether they are required to attend a course and how much time they will be paid to complete the course should contact their department contact e.g. staffing officer or module tutor. 

7) Is it possible to start teaching before completing the mandatory Arena Gateway training?

This decision lies with the recruiting department.  PGTA staff are encouraged to complete the Gateway training as soon as they are able to do so, as it is an excellent introduction to PGTA work that will support them to perform well and with confidence. 


8) Is there a set workload model for PGTAs (including teaching and marking)?

This will vary depending on the type of course.   For every hour of teaching, PGTAs should normally be paid between 1.5 hours work (inclusive of the hour teaching) to 3 hours (inclusive), as appropriate. Pay should be for contact hours, preparation of teaching material, and assessment of work, following the ratio agreed by the department's Teaching Committee.

9) Are PGTAs allowed to hold more than one PGTA position at once e.g. at UCL and another university? 

Yes if it is agreed by the PGTAs UCL department/supervisor, and provided that the PGTA does not exceed the following Teaching Load requirements or (if applicable) visa rules.  It is essential that any student with a visa does not work in excess of their visa rules, normally a maximum of 20 hours per week for postgraduate research students. 
Maximum teaching load (one option to apply to each PGTA in an academic year)

  • Full-time students undertaking a PGTA role should normally have a maximum load of 180 hours per year (to include teaching preparation and training). This is based on 6 hours per week x 30 teaching weeks.


  • No more than an average of 6 hours per week over the year

Students may in addition undertake a small amount of paid work provided that it does not interfere with their research or wellbeing.

Individual questions

10) Who is the main point of contact for HR-related queries for PGTAs? 

Queries should be sent to the department administrator/staffing officer (see department contact page) if the query relates to hours, pay, or work.  HR Services can advise regarding the contract or payments submitted by the department.  If they are unable to resolve the query, it may be escalated to the department’s HR Business Partner

November 2021, Employment Policy Team.