The Bristol PLUS Award

The Bristol PLUS Award equips already academically brilliant students with the essential skills required to be successful in the working world outside of their university course.

Gemma Minish, Campus Marketing Manager, Thales

The Bristol PLUS Award recognises and rewards University of Bristol students who have gained significant professional and life skills through work experience, volunteering and other activities outside of their studies.

The Bristol PLUS Award is designed to help you:

  • Enhance your CV and stand out from the crowd
  • Develop a variety of employability skills
  • Articulate your skills to employers and be prepared for the interview process

For further information about the award please use the How it works and Requirements tabs below.

The Bristol PLUS Award is now closed for registration and will reopen in September 2015.

The Bristol PLUS Award deadline for 2014/15 is 15 May 2015.  All Outstanding Award applications must be submitted by 15 May. You must then attend a preparation workshop in order to be able to present in May/June.

Masters students have an extended deadline until the end of February 2016 -please note that the system will close over the summer and re-open in September when you can continue with your award.

A degree is no longer enough

A degree is no longer enough and the reality is that students need to have a variety of skills and experience on top of their degree in order to remain competitive. The Bristol PLUS Award and Outstanding Award provide a framework for you to develop professional skills through activities outside of your degree all of which will help you to stand out from the crowd when applying for graduate roles and internships.

Be prepared for the recruitment and selection process

A big part of the Bristol PLUS Award process is about reflecting on the skills you have developed and learning how to articulate these skills to employers. This is vital in order to be prepared for the recruitment and selection process. We often receive feedback from employers that Bristol students have gained fantastic experience but they are unable to effectively articulate the skills they have developed when at interview stage. As part of the Bristol PLUS Award you will attend an interview skills related workshop and write a reflective report about the skills you have gained through your PLUS Award activities. You will also have a 1-2-1 appointment with a Careers Adviser at the end of the award process where you can discuss the skills you have gained and identify clear goals for your next steps.

The Outstanding Award goes further in preparing you for the interview process by providing you the opportunity to give a presentation to a panel during which you must articulate high level employability skills.

Employers value the award

Numerous employers from a wide range of sectors support the Bristol PLUS Award. These employers range from large multinational organisations to small and medium enterprises. The Careers Service works together with endorsing employers to ensure that the award continues to equip students with the employability skills that graduate recruiters are looking for.

Employers value the employability skills you will be gaining and the ability to articulate these skills to them at interview. By completing the Bristol PLUS Award you will be demonstrating to employers that you have:

  • An awareness that you need to develop certain skills
  • A desire to develop those skills further
  • A proactive attitude
  • A willingness to work hard
  • An ability to juggle differing priorities
  • An interest in learning something new

Find out what employers say about the Bristol PLUS Award: ‌Bristol PLUS Award Employer Quotes (PDF, 680kB)

Students recommend the award process

Overall, the BPA has helped me recognised the transferable skills I have gained in my work experience and have provided me with invaluable skills development through intensive workshops which makes me more employable, helped me to get insight knowledge of the job market in the UK and the skills I need to develop.

Sweet He, Bristol PLUS Award student (Mathematics with Statistics)

The Bristol PLuS Award has allowed me to reflect on and develop skills through a variety of activities in order to improve my overall ability to source and secure work in the future.

Rebecca Ellis, Bristol PLUS Award student (Law)

Getting started

The Bristol PLUS Award is open to all current students. Once you have registered for the award you will be able to keep track of your progress using your personal online portfolio. The Bristol PLUS Award is the starting point for all students. Upon completion of the Bristol PLUS Award you may then progress on to Outstanding Award.

Please note: Once you have registered for the Bristol PLUS Award you must submitted your evidence within one year (by the 15th May 2015), however you can use activities that you have completed from previous years (as long as you were a registered UoB student at the time). You can complete the Outstanding Award in the same year as your Bristol PLUS Award or wait until the following year.

Not sure if you want to dive in yet?

Find out more about the PLUS Award requirements or email to ask a question.

To complete the Bristol PLUS Award you must complete the following six steps:

Attend an introductory workshop

Find out everything you need to know in order to get started.

If you haven't attended an introductory workshop yet and you are concerned about waiting to get started, please be assured that anything you do before the introductory workshop (such as Careers Service events) will still count. 

Carry out 50 hours of work experience or volunteering

The term 'work experience' applies to internships, part-time, summer and voluntary work.

  • You can count any paid or unpaid work in any country towards your Award.
  • The 50 hours can be split over various periods of experience at different places.
  • The work experience that you use must have taken place while you were a registered student at the University of Bristol.
  • Society involvement, university representative roles and credited placements cannot be used as work experience, however they can be used towards the Intensive skills activity section of the award.
  • You will need to provide the contact details of a referee who can confirm that you carried out the work. Referees will be contacted once you have submitted your online application form.

Find out how the Senior Resident role can be used towards the Bristol PLUS Award: Senior Resident Role - PLUS Award (PDF, 297kB)

Attend 4 workshops

You must attend 4 workshops, 1 of which must be related to interview skills.

Once you have registered for the award you can search for Careers Service events that count towards the Award and book yourself onto them. In addition to workshops at the Careers Service, other employability workshops available throughout the University and externally can also be counted towards this section of the Bristol PLUS Award.

Take part in an intensive skills activity

The intensive skills activity is about going beyond the basics and really showing that you've made an effort to develop your skills whilst at university.

During an intensive skills activity you will have:

  • gained employability-related skills.
  • participated in an interactive manner
  • participated for a minimum of 6 hours
  • reviewed the skills you have gained from the activity/event

An intensive skills activity is something that you feel has allowed you to gain and develop skills that will help you in the workplace. These activities are demanding, 'intensive' activities that require commitment from the students undertaking them. Unlike the workshops section of the PLUS Award which involves learning about employability skills, an intensive skills activity requires putting these skills into practice. The intensive skills activity is all about 'doing'. Whatever activity you use must have been interactive.

The PFD below lists some examples of Bristol PLUS Award activities:

Intensive Skills Activity List - Examples (PDF, 238kB)

You can find a comprehensive list of all intensive skills activities within your online account once you register for the award. If you have completed an activity that is not listed, you will be able to select 'other' from the intensive skills activity drop down list. You will then need to provide further details about how the activity meets the intensive skills activity requirements.

There are a wide variety of activities available throughout the University that will equip you with excellent employability skills and can be counted towards this section of the Bristol PLUS Award. 

Write a reflective report

We ask you to look back on and review the experiences you are giving as evidence for the Bristol PLUS Award. Reflection is a transferable skill required by employers and it is vital to be able to recognise the skills you have developed through your experiences. Completing this process will help you to be more prepared when applying for internships and graduate jobs.

Complete the award with a 1-2-1 appointment

The final element of the award is a 1-2-1 appointment. 

Appointments will take place in the spring and summer terms and you will be able to view and book these appointments online from the start of spring term. Final year students who are trying to complete the Outstanding Award may be able to attend an appointment in the autumn term. Please email to let us know if this applies to you.

The appointment will take the form of a structured conversation during which you will be required to reflect on the employability skills you have gained through your Bristol PLUS Award activities. If you are not able to articulate the skills you have gained to a sufficient standard you will be given advice on how to improve on this. You will then be required to return for another appointment before you can complete the award.

The appointment provides an opportunity to:
  • reflect on your Bristol PLUS Award activities and articulate skills gained (as would be required at interview)
  • identify strengths and weaknesses - establish ways of enhancing existing skills and gaining new skills.
  • highlight how the Careers Service and the wider University can continue to support your development
  • establish clear goals for your next steps

Once you have completed the Bristol PLUS Award you might like to consider applying for the Outstanding Award.

In order to be eligible for the Outstanding Award you must have carried out an activity that has allowed you to demonstrate the following skills:

  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Management of resources
  • Problem solving
  • Commercial awareness
  • Knowledge of sustainability and corporate social responsibility

As with the Bristol PLUS Award, your Outstanding Award activity must have been carried out whilst you were a registered University of Bristol student and must not be compulsory or credit bearing.

The Award process involves an online application form and presentation. The presentation for the Outstanding Award is designed to prepare you for the type of presentation you may be required to give as part of the selection and recruitment process, and the feedback given is intended to help you improve in this area. The aim of the Outstanding Award is to recognise the achievements of students who have taken their employability skills to a high level. This is reflected in the challenging nature of the assessment so be prepared to provide detailed and specific evidence of your skills development.

You can use any activity towards the Outstanding Award as long as you can provide clear examples of how the activity has allowed you to demonstrate the skills listed above. There is not a list of eligible activities for the Outstanding Award, however listed below are some examples of activities that have been used in the past to give you an idea of the level of activity that is required:

  • Volunteer project in South Africa
  • Starting up and running a student enterprise 
  • Treasurer of the Law Club
  • Internship at a recruitment company 
  • Epigram Editor
  • Organisation of a large scale sporting event

You must use the online application form to convince us that your activity is suitable and that you have gained valuable employability skills. You must have completed your activity before you submit your application form. In some cases this is not possible (for example, if you are using a committee role), in these instances you must have completed the role for long enough to have demonstrated all of the skills required and to have adequately reflected on your experience. 

Please note: The activity you use must be different from any used towards your Bristol PLUS Award. Therefore if you are hoping to do the Outstanding Award it is important to think carefully when deciding which of your experiences you are going to use towards the PLUS Award.

What to do next

If you would like to complete the Outstanding Award you will need to attend a compulsory introductory talk. Once you have attended the introductory talk you will be able to register for the award.  Please note that all Outstanding Award applications must be submitted by 15 May 2015.

Get started
Book a place at an introductory talk

Outstanding Award FAQ

Can I complete the Bristol PLUS Award and Outstanding Award in the same year?

The Outstanding Award is designed to be challenging and will require your time and commitment. You will need to be prepared to spend time preparing your presentation during which you must provide detailed and specific evidence of your skills development.

Outstanding Award Presentations take place in December, March and the summer so there is plenty of time to work your way through the Bristol PLUS Award and then register for the Outstanding Award. Please note that all Outstanding Award applications must be submitted by 15 May 2015.

My introductory talk isn't for a while, can I get started with the application form?

The six questions on the application form are based around the Outstanding Award criteria listed above. The purpose of the form is to obtain some brief information from you regarding your activity so that we can determine whether it is suitable for the award. The application form isn't very long and so shouldn't take much time to complete and isn't something that you should need to prepare in advance.  After attending the introductory workshop you can submit your application form straight away.