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Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning


Q. What does the course involve?

TAP is designed to encourage discussion, reflection and constructive critique between peers taking the programme and with tutors.  By the end of the programme, you should be able to

  • critically evaluate teaching, learning and assessment methods in your subject and at the level at which you teach, drawing on influential theories of learning and course design;
  • articulate your own understanding of teaching, learning and assessment (your 'philosophy of teaching');
  • develop a design for a teaching session or for a course that illustrates how you might apply this understanding in your own practice;
  • devise and reflect critically on practical approaches to professional development, in order to extend your own understanding and improve your own practice.

What we call your 'teaching fieldwork' is a core component of the programme and the programme assumes that participants undertake a significant amount of independent learning as well as working in peer-learning groups.  You will be supported in developing your understanding and practice through a series of short workshops, Moodle site, reading assignments and developmental projects. 

A detailed course description (for 2018-19; a 2019-20 version will be coming in due course) is available to download.  Please read this before submitting an application for a place.  Participants will be expected to attend all scheduled workshops and tutorials, unless indicated otherwise on the course description. Please read this before submitting an application for a place.  Participants will be expected to attend all scheduled workshops and tutorials, unless indicated otherwise on the course description.

Q. How are places allocated?

Successful applicants must meet the criteria outlined below.  The application form asks for an explanation of why you want to participate in the programme, and the quality of applicants’ statements and compatibility of interests with the programme’s aims are also taken into account.

In the event that demand for places exceeds supply, we will prioritise applications from those in the final year of their doctoral study / research contract and from those who have applied in previous years.

To be eligible for TAP you must

  • have a minimum of 20 hours’ teaching experience before the programme begins and an expectation of at least 40 hours’ experience by the end of the programme
  • be an early-career academic (for example, a postdoctoral researcher, early-career college lecturer, or PhD student after the first year of doctoral study) who teaches Cambridge students
  • be able to devote approximately 10 days to participating fully in TAP (including participation on core sessions, independent study and practical teaching development exercises)
  • be able to attend all compulsory sessions (see course description)
  • have the agreement of your PI / supervisor (if you have one) to taking part in the Teaching Associates’ Programme

All applications are reviewed at the same time and late applications will not be considered.


Q. What counts as 'teaching' in higher education?

For the purposes of TAP, ‘teaching in higher education’ includes lecturing, leading seminars and classes, supervising undergraduates and postgraduates. For most TAP participants, this teaching is in Cambridge, though many also bring experience of teaching in other UK universities and / or overseas.

TAP includes some compulsory assignments such as peer observation of teaching and so TAP participants must undertake some teaching in Cambridge during the programme.

Please note: the minimum requirement of 40 hours’ teaching experience may not include the following:

  • time spent preparing teaching materials;
  • marking essays;
  • teaching in secondary or further education.

Q. What if I have not attended an Effective Undergraduate Supervision course?

To complete TAP, you must attend or have attended the short course on ‘Effective Undergraduate Supervision’ run by the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning in collaboration with the Researcher Development programme.  We run these courses in many Departments, as well as through the University programme. If you have not attended this short course before you begin TAP, you must do so during the course of the programme. We run many instances of this course during Michaelmas and Lent Terms.

Q. What if I do not have the minimum level of teaching experience required?

To be eligible for TAP, you must have at least 20 hours’ teaching experience before the programme begins and at least 40 hours’ experience of teaching in higher education by the time that the programme ends. You must also have some teaching commitments in Cambridge for the period of the programme, in order to be able to complete some of the compulsory requirements.


Q. What if I do not have confirmation of the teaching I expect to undertake during the TAP programme, by the time I apply?

If your teaching hasn’t been confirmed before the application deadline, please indicate the number of teaching hours that you expect to undertake and what you expect to teach. If your application is successful, we will ask you to confirm teaching hours before the programme begins (typically, around week 2 of Michaelmas Term).


Q. What if I do not have any teaching responsibilities during the programme?

TAP includes some compulsory exercises which can only be completed if you are teaching; some of these require you to be teaching in Cambridge. If you have no teaching commitments, and / or will not be teaching in Cambridge during TAP, then we cannot accept your application to the programme for the current year.


Q. Whom should I contact if I do not have enough teaching hours to complete TAP successfully?

We suggest that you approach your Supervisor / PI for advice. Your Department’s teaching office and / or College Directors of Studies for subjects that you are able to teach may also be able to help.


Q. Is there a course fee for TAP?

TAP is accredited by the Higher Education Academy, to which Cambridge subscribes. TAP is open to doctoral students registered with the University and to early-career postdoctoral researchers and academics  who are employed by the University or one of the Colleges. This means that Cambridge PhD students, postdocs  and academics do not pay a course fee and / or an accreditation fee.


Q. What if I can't get a place on TAP?

The Teaching Associates’ Programme runs every year. If you are unsuccessful one year, you can apply to participate in a subsequent year, provided you continue to be a student and / or member of staff employed by the University or one of the Colleges.   If demand for places exceeds supply, we aim to prioritise those who have applied in previous years and who could not, at that time, be accommodates; we also aim to prioritise applicants in the final year of their contract / doctoral study.

Alternatively, if you have sufficient experience you may make an application direct to the Higher Education Academy for recognition of your individual experience. Please note that individual applications incur an administration fee. The CCTL is not able to meet the costs of individual applications. To find out more about making an application direct to the Higher Education Academy (HEA), consult the HEA’s website and / or register for one of CCTL’s short courses: ‘Higher Education Academy: Briefing’.

Q. How much time will I need to give to TAP?

You should expect to give approximately 10 days throughout the programme to preparing for and attending course sessions, teaching development exercises, including reflecting on your teaching practice, reading and writing assignments.  Most participants choose to work more intensively on TAP assignments at some stages during the programme and less so at others, in accordance with variations in teaching and research commitments. 

Q. Who is on the TAP team?

Course leader

Dr Meg Tait (

Meg leads the educational development activities of Cambridge’s new Centre for Teaching and Learning.  She is also Bye-Fellow in academic development at Queens’ College.  Working in educational development at Cambridge since 2003, Meg is also course director for the University's Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Course Tutors 

Dr Mary Beth Benbenek (

In CCTL, Mary Beth is Researcher Developer for the University’s postdoc/research staff. She is particularly interested in exploring the different types of pedagogy, beyond formal teaching, in which the University’s postdoctoral researchers engage.

Dr Anna Gannon (

Anna is an affiliated lecturer in the History of Art Department and a Fellow of St Edmund's College, where she directs studies.  In the Centre for Teaching and Learning, Anna runs the University's professional development programme for University lecturers and leads on development for new supervisors of PhD students.

Dr Lesley MacVinish (

Lesley Senior Teaching Associate for the Department of Pharmacology, Fellow, Tutor and Admissions Tutor  and Director of Studies in Medicine and Vet Medicine at Wolfson College. Lesley holds a University Pilkington Prize for Teaching Excellence.

Dr Sonja Tomaskovic (

Sonja is CCTL's Researcher Developer with particular responsibility for the Schools of Physical Sciences and Technology.  She leads the University's Writing Skills Summer School.

Course administrator

Mrs Sam Jolley (

Sam is course administrator for the Teaching Associates' Programme and supports CCTL's Researcher Development Programme web and VLE development.


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