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My Current Job


What do I actually do all day?

I work part-time three days a week as a Senior Clinical Lecturer in Public Health and Epidemiology at the University of Birmingham. I am involved in a great deal of activity, some of which has been summarised under teaching and research.

I recently listed out all my current duties and activities for a review of my job. I was shocked at just how much I manage to do in three days a week (although it is more like four or five days most of the time). Here, listed below, is my job description as it currently stands.

Masters in Public Health

Teaching planning

  • General overview of module provision to ensure meets needs of FPH Part I Examination and that learning outcomes map onto Part I syllabus.
  • Planning sequence of modules to take account of student and tutor preferences
  • Liaison with other Departments and Universities providing modules for the MPH.
  • Review of potential external Uof B modules that are of relevance and could be offered to the students
  • Ensure all modules have timetables that are compatible with module learning outcomes and syllabus and that these are in place in time for the module.
  • Ensure that all modules have appropriate reading lists and that the Library is informed of these needs.
  • Planning and developing new teaching sessions to cover developments in public health
  • Co-ordination of contents of all modules to avoid both overlaps and gaps.
  • Filling in relevant forms when module organisers change, or small changes in methods of assessment or module content/learning outcomes occur.

Teaching QA

  • Review of all student feedback from our questionnaires and action that is required once discussed at Course Committee – either directly or via the module organisers.
  • Review of student feedback from medical school questionnaire
  • Ensuring that procedures and processes are in place as required by QAA
  • Ensuring that procedures set by Medical School and University are followed by our course, or obtaining variances for these if required.
  • Ensuring that our teaching meets needs of Teaching and Learning Strategy.
  • Will now have to ensure that ALL tutors, including one-off external tutors, are peer-observed.

Delivering teaching

  • Delivering teaching in Epidemiology, Stats, Health Information, Environmental Health.
  • Delivering teaching on the web site in response to requests from students – this usually involves developing revision material or online tutorials if possible.
  • Delivering tutorials on subjects requested by students in Epidemiology, Stats, Health Information.
  • Personal tutorials for individuals or small groups expressing difficulties.

Module co-ordination

Introduction to Public Health, Epi and Stats

  • Development of timetable for three module weeks each year
  • Development of timetable for distance learning version of same
  • Development and updating of teaching of my main element of this module (Health Information)
  • Development and marking of assignment in Health Information


  • Introductory session for students on projects
  • Preparation and updating of literature on projects for students and supervisors
  • Assisting students to find suitable supervisors for their project ideas
  • Advising students on suitability of project ideas
  • Discussion of student protocols with students and supervisors if they appear to be lacking for the MPH, or alternatively if too ambitious.
  • Advice to all students experiencing difficulties with project e.g. Those whose jobs change necessitating a change in project subject area.
  • Advice to students on ethics and other research governance issues for their projects.
  • Direct supervision of projects – usually 3 or 4, but can be up to 6 or 7.
  • Discussion of any project related issues with supervisors.

Personal tutoring

  • Personal tutor to students on MPH and distance learning module.
  • Co-ordinate personal tutors so all students have appropriate tutors
  • General pastoral care of all students on the programme.
  • Discussion issues affecting academic progress of all students on programme e.g. Illness issues, job issues, other issues. Referral on to appropriate agencies where required.
  • Dealing with difficult issues such as appeals, withdrawals, changes in mode of study, plagiarism/cheating issues, student complaints.

Overall strategic management of MPH

  • Review of strategic direction of MPH
  • Review of market position of the MPH in relation to other similar courses in other Universities
  • Review of possible market opportunities, and also of weaknesses and how these can be addressed.
  • Decisions on numbers of students to admit to the course.
  • Decisions on possible modules to develop as part of the MPH or incorprate from other programmes.
  • Overall financial position of the MPH
  • Decision on funding teaching, and moving teaching to funding streams more advantageous for the Department/Division
  • Liaison with other Course Directors about module sharing
  • Ensuring strategic direction of MPH is in line with University and School policy
  • Purchase of equipment for MPH e.g. Computers, video recorder/players, projectors, calculators
  • Dealing with crises e.g. Absence or sudden illness in a module co-ordinator, or finding another tutor for a session where the tutor is unexpectedly absent.
  • Dealing with any issues that haven't been covered by module co-ordinators e.g. When they don't do the timetable it defaults to me. Decision on irregular requests from students to attend unusual modules.

Committees in connection with MPH

  • Course Committee (every 2 months) – discussion of strategic, general management issues, and consideration of student feedback with student reps and module organisers.
  • Taught PG Committee (Med School) – taught course leaders meet approximately every 3 months to discuss common issues and issues of School and University strategy. I have to prepare a report on recruitment, absence, and instances of late submission of work for this meeting.
  • Heads of PG Courses (Division) – seems to be every 6 months or so.

Other meetings e.g. Module Orgs

  • Meeting with Module Organisers to update on the MPH as a whole, and to discuss issues common to several modules
  • Meeting with individual Module Organisers to discuss issues raised by students, or Course Committee, or to familiarise new MO's with the MPH and the place of their module within it, or for a full review of the module.
  • Meeting with representatives of other courses where modules are being shared.
  • Meeting with representatives of other Universities where modules are being shared.

IT-related issues

  • Database – development and updating of database, to ensure that all management reports required can be produced, and that results are accurate.
  • MPH web site – maintenance of web site, including preparation into web format and posting onto web site of all handouts, powerpoint presentations, timetables, book lists and changes in procedural documentation (e.g. Around absence, and plagiarism). Updating lists of links to ensure that they are accurate, reflect what module organisers want and work. Research of new links to support various modules. Monitoring of web site use. Development of new material in response to student requests e.g. Revision material, model answers, critical appraisal practice papers.
  • MPH discussion lists – setting up and maintenance of MPH e-mail lists for each cohort and alumni.
  • Ensuring alumni being given continued access to web site have filled in a copyright form.
  • Changing passwords on the Unix server as appropriate.
  • Researching appropriate statistical and other packages for students e.g. Negotiating a discount for StatsDirect, negotiating a free licensing agreement for Star Office.

Distance learning

  • Development of distance learning material around the material that I already teach on the course (mainly in the field of health information). Development of learning guides, online tutorials. Researching new sources of information e.g. The new information being released regularly in connection with the 2001 Census.
  • Researching copyright issues relating to access to NHS information (not resolved!). Applies also to the in-house MPH.

Assessment and marking

  • Review of ALL assessment questions, whether essays or examinations or other types of assignment, to ensure that they meet the learning outcomes of that module, and don't overlap with other assignments.
  • Ensuring all assessments are cleared with External Examiner prior to being given to students.
  • Issuing guidance on assessment to module organisers
  • Reviewing guidance given to students on assignments
  • Ensuring that students follow procedure for extensions to deadlines
  • Chasing up marks from examiners.
  • Reviewing ALL scripts prior to sending to External – I will review all scripts deemed to have failed and around the pass/fail threshold, as well as a selection of others to ensure that all modules are marked to approximately the same standard. Liaison with Module Organisers when adjustment is required.
  • Marking all Health Information assignments
  • Marking all projects for which I am supervisor.
  • Marking half of all other projects as second (internal) marker.
  • Reviewing marks where two markers are in dispute.
  • Collating marks and ensuring all are available for Exam Boards
  • Chief Internal Examiner at Exam Boards
  • Identifying candidates for McKeown and Knox prizes.

External examiner liaison

  • Appointment of new External Examiners
  • Ensuring paperwork is completed
  • Ensuring adequate guidance and briefing is provided
  • Ensuring all assessments are cleared with External before being given to students
  • Ensuring External Examiner is final arbiter on marks – do this by ensuring a selection of scripts are sent including all failures, all borderline, and a selection of others.
  • Ensuring External Examiner is available for Exam Boards
  • Ensuring that External Examiner report is acted upon

Selection and recruitment issues

  • Deciding on selection policy and reviewing and updating same
  • Deciding on how many students to admit to programme, and to modules as additional or occasional students.
  • Considering all applications from overseas students according to appropriate policy – offering places after reviewing written submissions
  • Considering all applications from home students according to appropriate policy – deciding with other members of Committee on shortlisted candidates, interviewing.
  • Completing forms for rejected and accepted students.
  • Providing feedback for rejected students.
  • Providing a fast track service for certain overseas students who have secured external funding and require early decisions for their funding body e.g. British Council.
  • Review of selection policy to see if our decisions predict ultimate performance on the course, and whether we should alter procedure as a result of this audit (like to do, don't have time).
  • Review of relevance of mathematics test (should do, don't have time).
  • Liaison with relevant authorities regarding occasional students e.g. On top up training programme.

SpR/SpT Tutorials

  • Development of appropriate programme to support Trainees approaching Part I MFPH examination for first and subsequent attempts.
  • Ensure that gaps in MPH syllabus are plugged at this stage
  • Providing coaching in examination method for all elements of examination
  • Providing practice for all elements of examination under timed conditions
  • Arranging timetable with other tutors from Department, and outside, including a reserve tutor for each session.
  • Getting material for other tutors so that they don't have to prepare teaching for these sessions, and to ensure that certain topics are not repeated and others not omitted.
  • Developing NEW mock examinations and marking them twice a year. This includes developing new Paper I and Paper 2 questions, and providing individual written feedback about each question and about exam technique as a whole.
  • Directly tutoring particularly on Health Information, and in areas where I can't find a tutor (usually Sociology, Management, Health Economics). This involves a lot of preparation on my part as these aren't my specialist areas.
  • Researching and locating new resources to help Trainees to revise. This includes revision courses run elsewhere, locating useful web sites to help them keep up to date, researching other revision and knowledge sites.
  • Keeping and maintaining the Trainees web site (a sub-site of the MPH) including placing all powerpoint presentations used in tutorials online, as well as keeping notices placed on the site, and keeping the timetable up to date. Keeping training packs, and documentation sent by the Training programme up to date on the site.
  • Targeted training for trainees with multiple Part I failures, including individual tuition and marking individual attempts at extra questions and extra mock exams.


  • Final PhD student currently on year out. Have recently completed the successful supervision of two PhD candidates (in 2003/4).
  • Assisting with cystic fibrosis research including air pollution and cystic fibrosis (with Heartlands Hospital), validity of Schwachman Score and FEV1 in predicting mortality and resource use (with Dundee Uni, and an MPH student). Plan to do another national survey of adults in 2005.

Other Duties

  • Undergraduates – teaching by lecture on Epi/Stats course (Years I and II) and Disability Studies course. Teaching small group tutorials. Supervision of approximately 8 projects (Year III). Attendance at project seminars. Marking projects. Marking UG examinations (usually 2 per year). Marking Disability Studies exam papers.
  • Training Committee – West Midlands Training Committee (FPH) as University representative.
  • Appointment of Trainees – as University representative. Usually involves 2 days shortlisting and up to 4 days interviews each year.
  • Training Consortium rep for University – ensure stuff about training issues gets through to relevant people within Department
  • Dealing with Trainee placements – when Training Committee place somebody in Department, ensure Sharon knows, and that they have a trainer, a desk, chair, telephone, computer and a plan.
  • Academic panel for Part II – review of protocols.
  • CF Trust Research and Medical Advisory Committee – Meets twice a year, currently in abeyance due to lack of funds. Provide ad hoc advice as committee member.
  • Sub-committees on Clinical Standards, Infection Control, Database Steering Group – development and updating of guidelines. Database reviews research proposals in relation to the Database. Opportunity here for cohort studies.
  • RITA panel – once or twice a year, act as RITA appraiser, and provide reports on all trainees who have been on MPH and done mock exams.
  • Keeping up to date with CPD and Appraisal Portfolio - !
  • Other administrative duties e.g. Reviewing teaching hours, transparency review etc etc.
  • Part I Examiner for FPH – two meetings a year, and marking one set of questions a year. Currently Health Information (was Sociology).
  • Divisional rep for taught PG courses on DEC
  • Miscellaneous stuff e.g. PG open day preparation and planning.

What I would like to do but don't have time to do

Strategic course development

  • Further distance learning including moving from Certificate to Diploma and full MPH by distance.
  • Development of MPH (Health Protection) (meeting planned Feb/March 2004) under badge of HPA/FPH and in conjunction with Occ Health, Law, Env Health.
  • Development of links with other Universities (started with Warwick)
  • MPH/PhD linked programme – I developed a Divisional programme but this seems to have stalled with the PG PhD tutor.
Teaching QA
  • Module reviews against learning outcomes – a full review of each module according to a planned sequence, and ensuring all learning outcomes are covered in the course material, and that the learning outcomes are covered to and mapped onto the assessment.
  • Use of control charts to highlight problems – this has been piloted, but we need to enter data from student feedback forms to develop control chart methodology to target interventions and review of modules to those requiring most review.
  • Peer review of teaching targeting initially those areas of concern. But we have to do everybody at least once every 3 years. For external teachers this will be difficult.

Teaching research

  • Use of control charts – as above. Aim is to target peer review and intervention on those tutors/modules/courses that need it, rather than having to do everybody.
  • More outcomes audit on the MPH in relation to the selection procedures used – need to check that what we do is related to outcome and also that all elements of selection are related to outcome.

Other research

  • More research into cystic fibrosis, particularly using the opportunities afforded by the national database for cohort study.


  • I would like to update my knowledge in Management and Communicable Diseases by attending these modules on the MPH. No chance at present.



Copyright © 2004 Dr Sarah Walters
Last updated March 16, 2004