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Timetable Office

Staff Availability FAQs

  • What is Staff Availability?

    Timetabling collate information about the hours during the core-teaching day for which academics are not available to teach. This information, along with module details from UNITe and student choices from sign-up, will be combined to produce a timetable balancing the needs of staff and students and meeting the physical constraints of SOAS teaching space.

  • What is the information used for?

    The data we collect will enable us to be smarter about when we schedule teaching. It will give us the flexibility and autonomy to place teaching at times that are convenient to you, suitable for the students and get a more efficient use of our rooms. It should also cut down on long email conversations when teaching needs to be moved - a crucial issue given the move from Vernon Square to the Senate House North Block.

  • What is it not used for?

    The details are purely to create more dynamic timetables; information will not be passed on to other departments.

  • How do you define ‘not available to teach’?

    There are many reasons you may not be available to teach such as childcare issues, research and administration tasks. You may have a part-time contract and another job elsewhere, you may be on sabbatical. Timetabling is not really concerned with the reasons; you don’t need to provide us with details of what you are doing when you can’t teach. As long as the request is judged reasonable by the Head of Department we will try to accommodate it.

  • How is it being collected?

    Staff will complete a web form, stating the times they are not available to teach.

  • Who will see my details?

    The details will be verified by the Head of Department. They will then be passed to administrative staff in the faculties and timetabling who will process the data. Your availability details will not be displayed publicly on the timetables.

  • What are the core teaching week and the core teaching day?

    SOAS core teaching hours are Mon - Fri 9am - 5pm. As in recent years the slot 5-7pm has been used increasingly for teaching the form asks for information on the period 9-7pm. However, keep in mind that we would generally not expect teaching to take place after 5pm, and if you don’t want to be timetabled early or late in the day, you can indicate this on form.

  • What if I have a different availability in term 1 and 2?

    There will be an option to express this on the form.

  • What if I’m away all year?

    There will be an option to express this on the form.

  • What if I’d like a research day, but I don’t mind which day it is?

    There will be an option to express this on the form.

  • What if I’d like to consolidate my teaching on three days a week, and don’t mind which days?

    There will be an option to express this on the form.

  • My availability changes week on week, how can I express that?

    Currently you can’t. For this pilot year we are keeping the collection simple by only looking at data for the full year, or term 1 or 2. Depending on how this works out we may, in the future, extend the collection facilities so that different weeks can be modelled separately.

  • Once I’ve filled out the form, can I change my availability later?

    Yes we are very flexible; as your circumstances change you can change your availability. Sometimes we may have to negotiate changes to your availability if constraints of curriculum and space mean that your teaching will need to be at a time you originally weren’t available.

  • Will GTAs have to provide availability data?

    Yes, we will be collecting availability data from all the new staff recruited over the summer.

  • What about departmental meetings and seminars?

    We will, this year be adding departmental meetings and seminars to your timetable and we  will try to ensure these do not clash with teaching were possible.  You do not need to ‘grey out’ the check boxes for these hours when showing your non-availability.