SOAS University of London

Timetable Office

Staff Availability FAQs

  • What is Staff Availability?

    Timetabling collates information about the hours during the core-teaching day for which academics are not available to teach. This information, alongside 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 efficient in terms of space usage. It should also cut down on long email conversations when teaching needs to be moved.

  • What is it not used for?

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

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

    There are many reasons as to why you may not be available to teach – such as childcare issues, research and administration tasks. Alternatively, you may have a part-time contract and another job elsewhere or you may be on sabbatical. In line with our legal responsibilities and HR policies, priority will of course be given to non-availability which is related to contractual part-time or off-site working; reasonable adjustments for a known disability; or to caring responsibilities. The complexity of the SOAS curriculum and limitations of our estate mean that although we will try, we cannot guarantee to match preferences for teaching hours which are extremely restrictive if they are for reasons other than these. 

  • 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 be passed to administrative staff in the departments 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 5-7pm slot has been used increasingly for teaching, the form asks for information on the period 9-7pm. However, 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 the 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, we are keeping the information collection simple by only looking at data for the full year, for Term 1 or for Term 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. If your circumstances change, you can change your availability within reason.

    After the initial collection phase the form is closed for a few weeks in May/June in order that we may produce the draft timetable

    Once the timetable has been published the form will re-open, please remember that at this stage restraints of curriculum and space will have to be taken into account. Please note that each time you change your availability after the timetable has been published, the Head of Department will need to re-approve this.

  • Will GTAs have to provide availability data?

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

  • What about departmental meetings and seminars?

    There is no need to check the boxes that correspond with your departmental meetings and seminars, as these will be placed on your timetable automatically.