Why has the block timetable been revised so drastically?

During the first consultation regarding timetabling in the new degree structure it was highlighted that some subjects would be unable to deliver all of their core teaching within the 7 hour block.  So each block has been extended from 7 hours to 10 hours, in an attempt to limit the amount of repeat teaching required. 

There have also been issues in the past for sciences relating to clashes in laboratory sessions.  Some of the science subjects require priority usage over 2 laboratory slots for core teaching.  To date this has not been possible.  However with the revised block we have now created 2 x 3 hour slots which should allow priority usage of labs if required (although schools can decide whether these slots will be used for labs or core lectures).

There have also been issues in the past with timetabling modules and programmes which have been developed without regard to the dual honours timetabling framework.  The revised block timetable has removed "out of block" slots from the working day so every time slot is allocated to a block.  This is intended to regulate the delivery of programmes and modules which break the block constraints.

A school may decide not to use any of the lunchtime or evening slots for their teaching to deliver teaching, however if the core teaching activities will not fit within the remaining 7 hours then some sessions must be repeated assuming there are sufficient resources (i.e. staff and rooms) to be able to deliver this, and option/elective choices for some subject combinations may be restricted. 

Does the Central Timetabling Unit decide when and where I should teach my class?

No. The timetabling process is still driven by schools.  It is the schools who decide which activities should be scheduled where.  This information is then validated by the timetabling unit against a list of rules such as:

  1. Does the allocation break the constraints of the block? 
  2. Are there sufficient resources available at this time (staff/space)? 
  3. Are all the students available at this time? 
  4. Does this allocation provide sufficient break times and working days for all staff and students?

If the allocation breaks any of these constraints the timetabling unit raises the issue with the school and presents a number of solutions.  The school always has control over where the activities are finally scheduled.  The timetabling unit simply validates those allocations to ensure that they fit within a structure of dual honours.

Some schools prefer to leave the complexity of timetabling to the Central Timetabling Unit however, they still have the authority to finally sign off the proposed timetable.

Could my teaching be spread over a 10 hour day?

No, although the block timetable has been extended until 19.00 the timetabling software is  programmed with a parameter to prevent any member of staff or student being scheduled to deliver/attend teaching for more than 8 hours in any one day.  (This parameter can be lifted on request e.g. where a member of staff may wish to condense all of their teaching into a single day).

Could I find myself working through lunch?

No, although the block timetable has been extended into lunchtimes the timetabling software is  programmed with a parameter to ensure that every student and member of staff has at least 1 hour for lunch between the hours of 12.00 noon and 14.00.  (This parameter can be lifted on request e.g. where a member of staff may wish to teach through 12.00-14.00 to condense all of their teaching into a single day).

What about seminars and meetings which are usually scheduled at lunchtimes?

Although lunchtimes have traditionally been used to deliver seminars and organise meetings they have also always been used for teaching.  The extension of the block into lunchtimes is again an attempt to reflect and regulate existing practice for the same reasons as evening teaching above.  The extension of the block into lunchtimes may result in an increase of teaching at lunchtimes.  However, Wednesday afternoons are still available for organising seminars and meetings.

Could I find myself working for more than 4 hours without a break?

No, a similar parameter to that ensuring a lunch break will be applied to long periods of teaching.  The software will be programmed with a system parameter which ensures that all staff and students will not have to deliver/attend more than 4 hours of teaching without a break.  (This parameter can be lifted on request e.g. where a member of staff may wish to teach for 5 hours in order to condense all of their teaching into a single day).

Will the Central Timetabling Unit require me to teach in the evening?

No.  The main purpose of extending the block up to 19.00 is not to increase the number of activities taking place during this period but instead to limit the number of student clashes resulting from these periods being unregulated. 

Last year there were over 100 teaching activities scheduled in the 17.00-19.00 slots.  This resulted in hundreds of student clashes and many of them were either left unresolved or were not resolved until late into the semester.  This obviously has an impact on the student experience and student engagement with various modules.

A majority of the 100 or so activities which this year teach in the 17.00-19.00 slots choose to teach in these slots for various reasons, but primarily to avoid having to repeat teach activities.  (These issues exist because modules and programme combinations have been developed which break the constraints of the block and the dual honours timetabling framework).  It is anticipated that by extending the block there will be an increase in repeat teaching and/or a reduction in student choice for some modules.  However, these activities should be able to be accommodated within the 9.00-17.00 slots.

Most of the issues relating to evening teaching involve balancing student choice and minimising repeat teaching.  It is schools who have the control to define where to increase/decrease student choice and where to increase/decrease repeat teaching.

What support services will be available if I am required to teach in the evening?

Support will be available from AV Services.  If there is sufficient demand the nursery will remain open and the 24 hour security service will continue to operate as usual.