I’m leading seminars for a couple of classes this year–New Testament Introduction and New Testament Theology.  Now that I’ve gone through the university induction for new teachers, I’m finally getting a better handle on the UK undergrad system.  Most classes are based on the lecture & seminar system–especially those in the arts and humanities.  In the theology department standard classes have one lecture a week for an hour and then the class meets fortnightly (i.e., every two weeks) in seminars.  The seminars are groups of about 12 students and are focused on group discussions.  Here at Durham, only PhD’s are allowed to lecture, so postgrads only serve as seminar leaders.  (I’ve got a couple of seminar groups for NTI and one for NTT.)  For assessment, students typically write a 2000-2500 word essay each term.  Generally, the first term is a ‘formative’ essay and the second is ‘summative.’  However, with NTT there are only summative essays.  Only summative essays count toward grades, and as with lecturing only PhDs mark them.  As I go through the process, I’m sure I’ll write more, especially about the grade scale since it is quite a bit different than the US.  Someone asked once about pay, and it generally ranges from £250-£500/year per class depending on number of seminar groups and essay marking.

Other than the university induction for new teachers, I also had to get a National Insurance Number (NINO), similar to the SSN in the US, through the Department for Work and Pensions. I just made an appointment the DWP’s Jobcentre Plus to give them your documents for them to give you a number. Living in Durham, my interview took place in Newcastle. The office is about a 5 min walk from the train station. While they note a large list of items needed to verify your eligibility to work in the UK, all they got from me at the meeting was my passport and a letter from Durham explaining the terms of employment. Until you get the NINO, they just take out an ’emergency’ rate of tax. Once you get the number, they’ll true up the taxes withheld. (However, the UK system is not like the IRS because you don’t true up taxes at the end of the year on April 15. What they take out is what you pay.)  See the post here where issues of working in the UK, taxes, etc. are discussed more fully.