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Current Postgraduate Students


Demonstrating to our undergraduate students is viewed in the department  as being a key part of the education received by our graduates and therefore, demonstrating is compulsory in both the first and second year of graduate study if you have the right background to do so (we do not wish to place anybody in the undergraduate laboratories for whom this would be inappropriate).  It is also open to all MPhil, 3rd/4th year graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.  The value of this work is recognised by the department in two ways: firstly as researcher development credits (first year students only) and secondly by financial means (the rate of pay is around £11 per hour for first year graduate students rising to a maximum of around £20 per hour for experienced postdoctoral researchers).

The annual call for demonstrators goes out to all graduate students and postdocs in mid-August every year, with a form submission deadline of early September, allowing for the timely allocation of all demonstrating slots well before term begins in October.  If you are interested in demonstrating Part IB or Part II (see below), you will find the relevant form here.  Part IA is usually populated with first year graduate student demonstrators, occasionally with second years, but demonstrating in this laboratory is not offered as an option on the general form because all the slots are usually filled without the need to go beyond the second year graduate student population.

The Part IA Practical Course has been designed to follow the first year lecture course: the first three experiments (Michaelmas Term) involve mainly organic chemistry and applications of spectroscopy.  In the Lent Term, we lead with two organic experiments (weeks 1–4) and finish with two physical (weeks 5–8), concluding the course in the Easter Term with two short inorganic experiments (weeks 1–4), in recognition of the fact that time is at a premium in the run up to the undergraduate first year examinations.   There are technique demonstrations (to ensure uniformity of demonstration to students) by the Senior Laboratory Technician (Mark Hudson) and a comprehensive Demonstrator Handout, which details how to run each session and gives model write-up examples to assist with speedy marking.  Demonstrators in this class work from 10.00am - 5.00pm, alternate weeks during term time, i.e. 10 sessions total per demonstrator, and one extra hour is paid for marking the scripts, i.e. payment for 8 hours total for each session.

In Part IB, the organic experiments run every week during Michaelmas and the inorganic ones run during Lent. Demonstrators in this class work from 1.00 - 6.00pm, every week during term time, i.e. 8 sessions total per demonstrator, and two extra hours are paid for marking the scripts, i.e. payment for 7 hours total for each session.  Physical demonstrators are expected to be at the laboratory from 1.30-6.00pm and theoretical labs run throughout the year with hours of work depending on how many people offer to demonstrate but usually on average 4.25 (further clarification will be provided as soon as the rotas are set).  Please note that for the organic and inorganic labs, demonstrators need to have currently (or at least recently) used synthetic laboratory skills in order to demonstrate effectively.

In Part II, the organic, inorganic and theory experiments run throughout the first two terms; there are no Physical labs.  Please note that for the organic and inorganic labs, demonstrators need to have currently (or at least recently) used synthetic laboratory skills in order to demonstrate effectively.

Overall, the hours per session paid for (which includes the marking time where relevant) are:


Hours per session:*

Part IA


Part IB O/I


Part II O/I


Part IB Physical


Part IB/Part II Theoretical



*See below for exceptions:

  • For any session where a demonstrator needs to be replaced, usually due to illness or emergency, an enhanced payment of 1.5 x the usual rate will be offered as an incentive to volunteer.
  • Situations where a demonstrator sorts out a swap well in advance of a conference or other planned event (it is expected that this will not be a last minute arrangement) will not be paid at this enhanced rate: they will be paid at the usual hourly rate.

**Two further clarifications are needed for the Part IB O/I Lab:

  • Groups where there are 9 or more students will be paid for 8 hours in recognition of the extra pressure in the lab and the extra marking (most groups are 8 students so usually the group where there are more than 8 students tends to have 11 or 12 present and these are limited).
  • In situations where an emergency replacement is sought, for consistency the marking will still be done where possible by the group’s usual demonstrator.This will result in the usual demonstrator receiving a payment for 2 hours in that week (usual rate) and the stand-in lab demonstrator receiving payment for 7.5 hours (5 hours at the enhanced rate).

In Part II O/I, students will be paid for an extra hour for attending Bill’s demonstrations at the start of term.

‡‡Physical demonstrators do not do the marking for this class but are paid for 7 hours work in recognition of the much larger group size they handle (one demonstrator per day) and the help which they provide after the practical with calculations and student write-ups.

‡‡‡For the Theoretical Labs, demonstrators are not required every week so the payments will be as follows (at 4.25 hours per session):

Michaelmas: Part IB and Part II:  6 weeks;

Lent: Part IB: 6 weeks and Part II: 2 weeks