Sessional Lecturers


Sessional lecturers are hired primarily to teach courses, though they may also perform administrative service and are often encouraged to invest in professional and intellectual development (for instance, sessionals are eligible to apply for federal research funds and can access professional-development funds). Sessional lecturers are in charge of their own courses and are usually finished their graduate degrees or very close to completion.

Sessional lecturer appointments fall into two main types: 50% and over and less than 50%. The percentage describes how close an appointment is to the designated full-time load in a given faculty. A sessional may be hired to teach a single course or a slate of courses in any one term or appointment. Course-loads 50% or more of “full time” give sessional lecturers access to a different range of benefits than course-loads falling under 50% of full-time. Sessionals may also hold appointments in more than one department, unit, or even institution at a time; the accumulated total course-load at UBC determines whether a sessional is over or under a 50% appointment.

Full-Time Load Standard: By Faculty (Sept – April)

Key Procedures and Processes

Getting Hired

Available sessional positions at UBC must be posted publicly by the program, unit, or department that is hiring. Anyone may apply and should be considered. Departments must advertise the requirements and procedures for hiring, which are governed by the rules of Part 7: Conditions of Appointment for Sessional Lecturers. Positions are usually for four or eight months, and may be either part-time or full-time.

Appointments generally begin September 1st or January 1st and end at the finish of the exam-month (December or April). Summer-teaching appointments are also available in many departments. Part 7: Conditions of Appointment for Sessional Lecturers specifies how appointments should be assigned, with qualifications, experience, seniority and performance being the four factors which must be weighed. An official Letter of Appointment from the UBC President’s Office may take time to arrive but it should specify your salary (see the minimum salary scale) and accumulated length of service.

Getting Re-Hired

Sessional lecturers are appointed on four to eight-month renewable contracts. A sessional can expect to be reappointed subject to:

  • teaching performance;
  • qualifications;
  • funding;
  • availability of courses or sections
  • length of service.

Sessionals also have the right to first consideration for additional work that becomes available after the initial appointments, subject to qualifications. All existing sessionals must be informed of available positions. Ask the department how postings are distributed, and check back regularly for additional employment opportunities.

Sessional Faculty: Types of Appointments

How Continuing Status is Acquired

If a sessional lecturer teaches the equivalent of three years for full time equivalent service in a six-year period (or less), they achieve“continuing status” – which provides members with priority to course assignment and a course load entitlement up to full time.. The Collective Agreement sets out the cumulative number of teaching credits necessary to achive a continuing appointment by Faculty (note: link this to Part 7, Appendix A). In calculating length of service, all UBC teaching (including evening and summer courses) should be counted, not only that achieved in any one department or faculty. Sessionals who think they have or will soon achieve “continuing status,” should inquire with Faculty Relations or, at our Okanagan Campus, contact Human Resources.

A Continuing Appointment entitles a sessional to earn additional benefits (i.e. a lump sum and annual professional development reimbursement entitlement). Continuing sessional lecturers also have the right to be assigned courses at the same time and in the same process as their professorial colleagues in the Department. Continuing sessionals whose appointments are not renewed due to cancellation or lack of funding are entitled to severance pay or recall rights – the choice belongs entirely to the sessional.

Sessional lecturers who have further questions about appointments can contact the Association.

You can find additional helpful information in our Contract Faculty Handbook here

About the Contract Faculty Committee