University Teaching Loads

by Ingrid Robeyns on March 24, 2009

From occasional conversations with international colleagues, I’ve come to believe that teaching loads of university lecturers may differ quite substantially between countries. I am curious finding out whether my belief is false or not. So I propose to do a little survey. If you are teaching at a University, could you tell us what a regular teaching load in your faculty/university is, and any factors that you think influence this (e.g. whether you are in a research-oriented university, the country in which you are based etc.)

Here’s an example. In the Netherlands there is no distinction between research-intense and other universities. With a few exceptions, every university lecturer is also supposed to be an active researcher (we do not make the distinction between those who do research, and those who teach, except for people who are hired as postdocs for projects). Where I am based (faculty of philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam), a standard teaching load for someone with a full time appointment is 4 courses a year. Most courses are 10 weeks, 2 hours a week; graduate courses are 15 weeks. All teaching staff supervise a few (roughly 3-5) BA and one or two MA dissertations annually, and mark an equal number of dissertations supervised by others. Class size varies between 10 students (MA courses) and about 100 students (some first year courses). We tend not to have teaching assistants, hence all the marking of essays/exams, course preparation, etc. is done by the teachers (there are rare exceptions to this rule). PhD ‘students’ are not regarded as students but as staff, and in any case most lecturers supervise one or two of them, with a few professors supervising half a dozen. I’d be curious finding out where this load is situated on an international and interdisciplinary comparison. My suspicion is that it’s an average load, but I may well be wrong.