I'm in a bit of a pickle. On applying for my phD, I asked my prospective sup if I would be likely to get GTA work, and she said of course. Speaking to her yesterday, she said it was unlikely as the department has no money. I'm worried as I do want an academic career (fingers crossed!) and I know a CV with no teaching will be useless. I'm doing my phD in the French dept, but it's on cinema. I'm thinking of contacting the Film Studies dept to see if I could even volunteer to help them out. It's not the money I'm concerned about, but the experience. I've already taught some film classes in the French dept (I'm doing a Masters in European Cinema there), but didn't do any marking. These were classes for Honours students, and I'm not sure I'd be allowed to mark their work.
Does anybody else have experience like this? And would anybody be able to enlighten me on when a phD student in the arts might normally start any teaching? I've heard it's not often done in the first year anyway, which would buy me some time. Thanks for any feedback.
It is pretty normal not to teach in the first year of a PhD. My university had a blanket ban on it, as they thought it was bad for PhD students and bad for the undergrads, although if your university is using MA students to teach, then I rather guess they don't have that idea! So first thing is don't panic! You could perhaps use your first year to do some of the work for the teaching in HE qualification - it's often called something like PGCert in academic practice. When I was a PhD student we all had to do the first module in first year if we wanted to TA in later years. Then I'd ask your supervisor whether this is a one-off budgetary crisis or an ongoing strategy to cope with funding cuts. If she reckons you'd be able to get teaching in other years then I'd leave it for now. If not then yes ask the flim studies department for paid work and write to other nearby universities asking them to keep you in mind if they have any teaching gaps.
This might just be my opinion after seeing how hourly paid staff are treated in two universities but please don't volunteer to work for free. Universities already treat hourly paid staff pretty badly in my opinion - the initial hourly pay sounds good, but then you realise all the hours of work it doesn't cover, no pay in the summer, no sick pay, no pension and not knowing from year to year whether you'll have any work the next year...and unfortunately that's often the positions that humanities and social science PhDs take on finishing or running out of funding to a) pay the bills and b) try to hang on in academia while chasing elusive jobs & postdocs. If people like you volunteer to work for free then you're eroding the terms and conditions still further. God I sound like UCU I know, but please don't!
We also have a blanket ban on teaching in the first year in humanities, its just not allowed, although they will allow you to apply for GTA in the second year. I'm not allowed to as I already work 10 hours in my dept as an RA and that's the limit. As bewildered says, the hourly paid staff often aren't treated as well, and if you were to volunteer then you'd be potentially causing problems for those other grad students who are looking to work and accepting the slave labour terms and conditions! As far as I'm aware so long as you have a certain amount of teaching experience (most in my uni only get 1 term) then its ok, some can do more, but they try to spread it out so that everyone has the option to teach if they wish to. I know of several grad students who were employed by more than one HE establishment so there are opportunities out there, but for now you need to concentrate on getting your studies underway ideally.
I'm a part-time humanities student, and part-time students don't teach in my department. Which is a shame, because it means we miss out on the experience. The teaching is doled out to the full-timers. Though there would be practical problems for some, in coming in to do the teaching.
This question was raised in a school meeting I was at recently and the answer they gave there was no - in the first instance only PhD students with the appropriate background or current subject are considered suitable (obviously your work has to tie in to what's taught). Then there will be the question of who is currently around in your department and who's on research leave as to what teaching is available. If you have a department with lots of PhD students, teaching may be more likely to go to students without funding or those writing up. In my department there aren't very many PhDs so I'm getting a lot of teaching and marking to do. However, this is actually because of the funding issues: the department is no longer employing outside sessionals but instead using PhDs to teach as they're cheaper! However, in my experience first years don't often teach, as you say, so that may have something to do with it.
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