Postgraduate teaching opportunities

There are a number of teaching opportunities every year for postgraduate students and PDRAs. These include demonstrating in the Chemistry Teaching Laboratory, giving problem classes, delivering outreach activities, and teaching in Colleges. You are encouraged to consider doing some teaching, as it develops many useful skills and can be a very rewarding experience. However, it is important to understand the time commitment required (including any additional time needed for preparation and marking) before signing up for any teaching activities. Be careful not to compromise your research by spending too much time teaching.

If you wish to take on any teaching, you must discuss it with your supervisor first.

The MPLS website provides further guidance on teaching, including the maximum recommended time commitment. 

All postgraduate students and PDRAs are required to undertake training before doing any teaching: see the 'Preparation for Learning and Teaching at Oxford' section below.

Preparation for Learning and Teaching at Oxford (PLTO)

Each year, the Department runs PLTO courses for those interested in teaching. One course focuses more on lab demonstrating and is part of the training that all new demonstrators must undertake (see below). The other PLTO course is aimed more at those wishing to undertake class/tutorial teaching. 

The class/tutorial PLTO course is advertised at the beginning of Michaelmas Term. Further details, and a link to the registration form, will appear soon.

Demonstrating in the Chemistry Teaching Laboratory

There are opportunities for graduate students to work as junior demonstrators for the undergraduate practical course. Demonstrating is an excellent way to develop your communication skills, recap theory and apply your skills to a different setting within Chemistry. Opportunities for professional accreditation are also available upon application to the Centre for Teaching and Learning (Advancing Teaching and Learning course). Labs take place at the Chemistry Teaching Laboratory – a dedicated teaching facility featuring two labs, a computer room and an Analytical Suite. You can find out more about the labs and see a video here.    

The Junior Demonstrator role requires a minimum 1 lab day (6 hours, including a 30-minute lunch break) a week during term time. Full training is provided and allocation is based on your experience and availability.  You do not need to have studied at Oxford at undergraduate level in order to demonstrate in the CTL.   

The role requires a UK right-to-work check and permission from your supervisor.    

Recruitment for demonstrating takes place shortly before each term. An email is sent to all DPhil students when applications open each term. In the meantime, please contact or for more information.  

Departmental problem classes

The Department runs problem classes in Mathematics for Chemistry, The Physical Basis of Chemistry, and the Quantum Chemistry Supplementary Subject. The role of the tutor is to mark the students' work before each session, plan an appropriate class in response, and deliver the class to the students. Tutors must have the Right to Work in the UK, as this is a paid position. Tutors are paid per class hour, at Senior Tutors' Rates, (but note that each class hour is likely to require three to four hours of additional marking and preparation).

Positions for class tutors are advertised in the Chemistry Newsletter over the summer, to start the next academic year. 

Delivering outreach activities

Our graduate students enjoy contributing to our varied public engagement and outreach programmes on a paid and voluntary basis. Opportunities for involvement are wide-ranging – examples include informal/formal teaching, talks, workshop development and delivery, social media account management, animation creation, roadshows and much more - and the outreach office works hard to match our students’ skills to the activities on offer.  

Please sign up via our ambassador form if you are interested. Once subscribed, you will receive weekly updates on current opportunities. 

College teaching positions

The Oxford Colleges provide tutorials for their students. Oxford tutorials involve a very different approach to teaching from lectures and problem classes: the tutor meets with two or three students and engages them in a back-and-forth discussion of the topic. Ideally the students steer the discussion and determine what is covered in the tutorial. For this reason, tutorial teaching requires that the tutor has a particularly strong grasp of the material, so that they can respond quickly and thoughtfully to whatever the student says, as well as excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

As the Colleges are separate institutions from the Department, they recruit their tutors themselves. If you are interested in tutorial teaching, you can keep an eye on the vacancies page of the University Gazette and/or those of individual Colleges. You may also wish to ask your supervisor if they know of any College teaching positions that are available. Normally, most positions are advertised from March/April onwards, for the following academic year.