TA Request Forms


TA Descriptions and Expectations

The Department of Physics and Astronomy hires approximately 60 Teaching Assistants (TAs) each semester to serve as laboratory and studio instructors, graders, tutors, and instructional assistants. These TA assignments are made by the Director of Undergraduate Laboratories and the Introductory Physics Course Coordinator, who match TA requests with department needs and circumstances. In making TA assignments, priority is given to continuing graduate students within the department (based on experience and class standing), but graduate students from other departments (especially Materials Science) are sometimes hired to fill the teaching needs of the department. Undergraduate students are hired for certain positions: Learning Assistant, Supplemental Instruction, Electronics Lab, Instructional Assistant, Lab Setup, and grading for some introductory courses. Some of these undergraduate positions are offered as part of the UNC work-study program.

Weekly TA workloads vary depending on the assignment, but a typical full TA (which is nominally a half-time appointment) during the fall or spring semesters requires approximately 18 hours per week for 14 weeks, or about 250 hours for the semester (this includes training time for new TAs). TA loads for first-year graduate students are set to 80% of a full TA load. Graduate students in their 2nd year and above can apply for a reduced TA load in cases of emergencies and other exceptional, extenuating circumstances. The application will be reviewed by the Director of Undergraduate Laboratories and the Director of Graduate Studies.] A summer session TA requires approximately 12 hours per week for 5 weeks, or a total of 60 hours. Unless otherwise noted as a fractional TA appointment, each of the assignments described below is based on these TA workload standards to maintain equity among TAs. If either the student or faculty supervisor finds that a particular assignment requires significantly more or less time than expected, the Director of Undergraduate Laboratories should be contacted to rectify the situation.

  • A101L (Laboratory Instructor for Astr101 – Descriptive Astronomy): Lead and grade 2 lab sections of up to 30 students each for 11 weeks. Typical weekly workload: 5 hours teaching + 4 hours lab preparation + 7 hours grading lab reports + 2 office hours = 18 hours. (Fall, Spring. Supervisor: Astro Course Coordinator)
  • A101LA (Learning Assistant for Astr10L): Undergraduate TA who assists students in lab. Weekly workload: ~2 hours per section; 0.1 TA (Fall, Spring. Supervisor: Astro Course Coordinator)
  • A101LG (Grader for Astr10L): Grade lab reports. Weekly workload: ~3 hours per section; 0.15 TA
  • AGN (Astronomy Guest Nights): Give a guided tour of the heavens each Friday night to about 30 public guests of all ages. Typical weekly workload: 1 hour preparation + 3 hours at observatory + 1 hour admin.; 0.3 TA. (Fall, Spring. Supervisor: Astro Course Coordinator)
  • A519A (Teaching Assistant for Astr519 – Observational Astronomy): Assist course instructor as needed. Workload varies depending on semester. (Fall or Spring. Supervisor: course instructor)
  • P55A (Laboratory Assistant for PHYS55 First Year Seminar: “Introduction to Mechatronics”): Assist course instructor with laboratory instruction. Preferred skills include: practical breadboarding and electronics, Arduino, C and Python coding, LabView, and Makerspace experience (laser-cutting, 3D printing, prototyping and design). Typical weekly workload: 4 hours in lab on Monday afternoons + 5 hours prep/grading/admin/office = 10 hours; 0.6 TA. (Fall or Spring. Supervisor: course instructor)
  • P100D, SI (Demo Assistant for Phys100 – How Things Work): Prepare and assist with presentation of lecture demonstrations for Physics 100 course, which meets 3 times each week. Ideally, the same TA holds this assignment for several consecutive appointments. Typical weekly workload: 5 hours; 0.3 TA. When combined with Supplemental Instruction role (see below), the total expected workload is 0.5 TA. (Fall. Supervisor: course instructor)
  • P106A (Instructional Assistant for Phys106 – Inquiry into the Physical World): Assist course instructor as needed. Workload depends on enrollment and instructor expectations. (Fall. Supervisor: course instructor)
  • P108/131A (Instructional Assistant for Phys108/131 – Physics of Energy & Our Energy and Climate Crisis): Assist course instructors as needed both in and out of class with recitations, lectures, lab activities, and field trips. Workload depends on enrollment and instructor expectations. (Fall or Spring. Supervisor: course instructors)
  • P114S or P115S (Studio Instructor for Phys114 or 115 – General Physics I, II): Lead one studio section and help with another as a Learning Assistant. Each studio meets twice per week throughout the semester. Students work in assigned groups of 3 or 4 on tutorial and laboratory group worksheets. Typical weekly workload: 8 contact hours + 3 hours preparation (including weekly meeting) + 4 hours grading + 2 office hours (1 in PTC) = 17 hours. (Fall, Spring. Supervisors: course coordinator and instructors)
  • P114LA or P115LA (Learning Assistant for Phys114 or 115): Assist with student learning during studio activities by asking and answering questions. Typical weekly workload: 4 contact hours + 2 hours preparation (including weekly meeting) + 1 hour in PTC = 7 hours; 0.4 TA. (Fall, Spring. Supervisors: course coordinator and instructors)
  • P118S or P119S (GTA for Studio section of Phys118 or 119): Responsible for one studio section (with up to 45 students) that includes laboratory and problem-solving activities. Typical weekly workload: 4 contact hours + 3 hours preparation (including weekly meeting) + 8 hours grading + 2 office hours (1 in PTC) = 17 hours. (Fall, Spring. Supervisors: course coordinator and instructors)
  • P118LA or P119LA (Learning Assistant for Phys118 or 119): Usually an undergraduate student who assists with student learning during class activities. Typical weekly workload: 4 contact hours + 2 hours preparation (including weekly meeting) + 1 hour in PTC = 7 hours; 0.4 TA. (Fall, Spring. Supervisors: course coordinator and instructors)
  • P281L (Laboratory Instructor for Phys281L – Modern Physics): Teach 3 lab sections of up to 12 students each for 13 weeks. Students submit formal written lab reports that must be graded by hand and returned within a week. The same TA usually holds this assignment for several consecutive semesters. Typical weekly workload: 9 contact hours + 3 hours preparation + 5 hours grading lab reports + 2 office hours = 19 hours. (Fall, Spring. Supervisors: course instructor, Lab Director, Lab Manager)
  • P331L (Teaching Assistant for Phys331 – Numerical Techniques): Guide and assist students with their course assignments that utilize python and numerical methods learned in the lecture to solve physical problems and analyze scientific results using common computational techniques. The TA must have strong math and physics knowledge and be familiar with basic numerical methods and python. Typical weekly workload: 4 contact hours + 2 hours preparation + 5 hours grading + 2 office hours + 3 hours additional student assistance = 16 hours. (Spring. Supervisor: course instructor)
  • P351L (Laboratory Instructor for Phys351 – Electronics I, analog): Assist students in 3 lab sections of up to 12 students each as they work on 11 analog electronics labs and Multisim. Each lab section has 2 TAs: usually one graduate student and one undergrad. Typical weekly workload: 9 hours in lab + 3 hours preparation + 2 hours grading labs + 4 hours grading homework = 19 hours. (Fall. Supervisor: course instructor)
  • P352L (Laboratory Instructor for Phys352 – Electronics II, digital): Teach one lab section of up to 10 students and assist with one other. Students use LabVIEW to complete 7 digital electronics labs, including a digital lock project that is presented at Lockfest near the end of the semester. Most TAs for this course are undergraduate students who have taken the course, and a graduate student usually serves as the Head TA. Experience with LabVIEW is required. Typical weekly workload = 10 hours; 0.5 TA. (Spring. Supervisor: course instructor)
  • P481L (Teaching Assistant for Phys481 – Advanced Lab): Advise and assist undergraduate junior and senior physics majors and materials science students as they perform independent experiments over 10 weeks. A working knowledge of advanced physics research laboratory equipment is required. Typical weekly workload: 7 contact hours + 2 hours grading + 1 hour preparation = 10 hours; 0.5 TA. (Fall. Supervisor: course instructor, Lab Manager)
  • P701/721/712/722GLA (Graduate Learning Assistant for PHYS701, 721, 712, 722): Lead a 1.5-hour problem-solving session each week to assist students in their understanding and ability to solve graduate-level physics problems. The GLA may also grade homework for the same course, or this grading may be done by a different TA. Only senior graduate students who have passed the physics PhD qualifying exam are eligible for these positions. Typical weekly workload: 2 contact hours teaching + 4 hours preparation + 2 office hours = 8 hours; 0.5 TA. (Fall, Spring. Supervisor: pre-candidacy coordinator, Lab Director)
  • Supplemental Instruction (SI): This program provides optional academic support in a group discussion format for students in certain large-enrollment classes (currently just Phys100). Each SI leader attends class and holds three weekly SI sessions for a particular lecture section. The SI leader facilitates group problem-solving, encourages critical thinking, and helps students develop learning strategies appropriate to the course. Demand for SI varies throughout the semester (heavy before exams, light afterwards). Typical weekly workload: 3 hours attending class + 3 hours leading SI sessions + 1 hour preparation/admin. = 7 hours; 0.4 TA. (Fall, Spring, Summer. Supervisor: SI/PTC Manager, course instructors)
  • Physics Tutorial Center (PTC): Assist primarily Physics 114, 115, 118, and 119 students with questions they have about their homework or studio. Requires broad and capable understanding of introductory physics and patience to work with students. Assistance with the maintenance and administration of the PTC is expected during slow periods. (Fall, Spring, Summer. Supervisors: PTC Manager, Lab Director, Lab Manager)
  • SI/PTC Manager: Train and supervise SI leaders. Monitor the use of the Physics Tutorial Center and coordinate with the Lab Director and Lab Manager on strategies to best meet the needs of the students who utilize this resource. Typical weekly workload: 2 hours supervising SI leaders + 1 hour monitoring PTC + 2 hours administration and coordination = 5 hours; 0.3 TA. (Fall, Spring. Supervisor: Lab Director)
  • Instructional Assistant: Coordinate with the Lab Manager or Lab Director to assist with a variety of tasks associated with the introductory physics courses, including: setting up and taking down the apparatus for each of the laboratories, developing new experiments or demonstrations for the introductory physics labs, revising existing experiments, repairing equipment, or helping with other related activities to support the department’s teaching mission. Undergraduate students are usually hired on an hourly basis for this work. Typical workload is 5 hours/week. (Fall, Spring, Summer. Supervisor: Lab Manager)
  • Grading (G): Coordinate with faculty course instructor to grade homework or exams throughout the semester. Most grading jobs require rapid turnaround time (a few days), so the workload can be intense at times and calm in between. Multiple graders may be assigned to the same course to reduce the grading intensity. Completion and mastery of a course is required before a student can grade for that course; graduate students are usually employed for grading work. Typical workload: Most courses require 40 to 100 hours of total grading time, but the workload should not exceed 20 hours in any one week. (Fall, Spring, Summer. Supervisor: course instructor).