Department GTA Support: SPS

Posted in: Case Studies

This case study from Social and Policy Sciences, is part of a series providing short summaries of some of the different good practice models and approaches taken to department level support for graduate teaching assistants (GTAs).

Support for GTAs in SPS is now formalised and regularly reviewed. The list below provides a (brief) overview of the main activities and resources, with responsibility for these split between the department level and the unit convenor. The package of support provides initial introductions, specific support later in time when needed, and feedback/development for GTAs during their teaching.

Inductions/Training: GTAs in SPS attend both the university introduction to teaching day (TIPs) and a department induction session (which runs at the start of each semester). The induction provides a welcome, department specific information, resources, policies and guidance.  GTAs attend the meeting once a year as a refresher.

Further sessions are put on later in the year by request, based on discussions with GTAs for any major issues or general support.

Guidance for unit convenors is published on what they should do in terms of providing information, training, supporting and feedback for the GTAs teaching on their unit, as well as the protocols for obtaining GTA support.

A GTA handbook is provided to all GTAs with a range of department and university information relevant to those teaching in SPS, along with guidance on the expectations for GTAs and how teaching is organised in the department.

Marking exercise: GTAs in SPS may mark first year undergraduate work. If they do, the unit convenor provides an induction to this process, usually  via a shared mock marking exercise. This ensures GTAs are clear about the marking scheme and that they are providing sufficient constructive feedback to the student.

Peer Review: All GTAs on a unit are peer reviewed by the unit convenor. This provides important feedback for the GTAs on their teaching, information for the convenor, and a check on the quality. This is also in line with QA9 requirements.

Unit Feedback: GTAs in SPS are named within the online unit evaluations and additional feedback (from students) is thus provided to them at the end of the course.

Further development: A small number of GTAs in SPS have taken part in a trial programme of activities to develop their teaching practice, critical reflection and evidence base, as part of working towards potential applications for Associate Fellowship of the HEA (AFHEA).

If you would like more information, contact the Directors of Studies/Teaching in the department. Support for setting up or reviewing your own department’s support for GTAs, along with further information on the University level support and development and can be obtained from the Centre for Learning and Teaching (contact

Posted in: Case Studies