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Academic Timetabling Policy

Category Academic
Type Policy
Approved by Senate, 27 February 2013
Date Policy Took Effect 27 February 2013
Last approved revision 23 March 2022
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
Responsible officer Head of Student Experience


This policy provides a framework for the use of a centrally-supported, computer assisted process for establishing the timetable of teaching activities within the University.

Organisational scope

This policy applies to the Dunedin Campus of the University of Otago.


Timetabling System
The University's central electronic timetabling system, as maintained by Timetable Service, Academic Services.
Includes Departments, Schools, Faculties and other units which have responsibility for the teaching of course material prescribed for the University’s various qualifications.
Refers to the activities of academic staff members scheduled in the University’s timetable e.g. lectures, tutorials and laboratories.
Teaching Periods – Standard
Refers to Semester One, Semester Two and Summer School as outlined in the University’s Calendar.
Teaching Periods – Non-Standard
Teaching periods in which programmes or papers are taught that do not fit the standard teaching period definition (cf. Teaching Periods – Standard)
Teaching Stream
A set of events for a teaching activity (such as a series of lectures or tutorials) into which a student is assigned.  Where a teaching activity has one stream, the student will be assigned to all events.  Where a teaching activity is split into multiple streams, the student will be assigned to one stream only, and will attend only the events associated with that stream (in such cases the material delivered in each stream will be the same).
Paper Selection Period
The period during which papers may be selected by students.  this will normally begin in August or September of each year, for students enrolling in the following year.
Public Holidays
Refers to those days observed as holidays by the University as per the Holidays Act 2003. These days are: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, the day after New Year’s Day, Waitangi Day, Anzac Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Queen’s Birthday, Labour Day, Anniversary Day (local).

Note: The University’s Dunedin Campus observes the Tuesday immediately following Easter Monday in lieu of Otago Anniversary Day.


1. Hours of Teaching

  1. The University’s Standard Teaching Hours (‘standard hours’) are from 8am-6pm, inclusive, Monday to Friday. The core teaching hours (‘core hours’) are from 9am–5pm, inclusive, during the University’s Teaching Periods.
  2. Lectures will be scheduled from the start of each hour, finishing at ten minutes to the hour. Multi- session classes will follow the same pattern as single session classes.
  3. No formal classes will be scheduled on any Public Holidays. Departments are responsible for
    ensuring that Public Holidays are taken into account when updating their yearly teaching schedules for
    the University’s central timetabling system.
  4. In scheduling classes, the University cannot guarantee timetable preferences or a clash-free timetable for all students.

2. Staff and Student Needs

  1. When scheduling classes the University will consider the need for all students to be provided with a reasonable range of study options during core hours.
  2. The University will make every effort to ensure that timetables are published in sufficient time to enable staff to plan their teaching commitments and students to make informed decisions on their study options.
  3. After the start of the paper selection period, changes to the timetable, including paper availability, will be made only in exceptional circumstances and must be endorsed by the relevant Pro-Vice-Chancellor (or their delegated nominee) and approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).
  4. In instances where a timetabling change will affect any student whose course has already been approved, the University shall take steps to ensure that the student is made aware of the change and is given reasonable opportunity to alter their previously approved course of study.
  5. Where a student is permitted to change teaching streams, it is the responsibility of the staff member granting permission to ensure that the change is recorded as soon as possible within the University's Student Management System (eVision).

3. Timetabled Teaching Facilities

  1. All teaching facilities will be recorded in the timetable system.
  2. Wherever possible, classes will be scheduled in teaching facilities that are appropriately equipped and suited to the method of teaching delivery and the number of students in the class.
  3. Wherever possible, class scheduling will minimise intra-campus movement of staff and students.
  4. Teaching will have first priority in booking General Teaching Rooms during the University’s Standard Teaching Hours within University Teaching periods.

4. Governance

Timetabling will be the responsibility of Timetables, Student Experience. Governance will be provided by the Lecture Theatre and Timetables Committee, reporting to Senate.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact:

The Team Leader