What is personal tutoring for?
Personal tutors help you with your academic and personal development whilst you are at university. Your personal tutor will know you and will help you get the most out of your studies. Personal tutors help in many ways:
- they are someone you can talk to about your degree programme and the subject-specific academic skills you need to do well,
- they can give advice on how to juggle your studies and extracurricular activities,
- they can help to signpost you to help and advice if you are struggling with financial, health or other problems.
Every student at Bristol is different: you might have different circumstances, different learning styles or different strengths and weaknesses to those around you. Your personal tutor can help you navigate your way through your degree and can offer personalised advice and guidance. You should feel free to talk to your tutor about the kind of help that you need.
You are likely to meet your Personal Tutor during Welcome Week. We recommend that ahead of this meeting you note down any particular things that you’d like to discuss in a Personal Development Plan (PDP) portfolio. What are you looking forward to? Are there any things that you are unsure about? What skills would you like to develop during your time here?
Your department/school may ask you to undertake some work during personal tutor sessions. Remember, the more you put into your meetings with your tutor, the more productive they will be.
How does it work?
There are three different elements to academic support across the University. These might be combined differently in some departments/schools, but each of these roles should be there in some form. If you’re on a professional course, e.g. medicine, these roles might have different titles but the support described should still be available to you.
Academic personal tutor
Your academic personal tutor is your main contact within the department/school throughout your studies, and can offer advice on both academic and personal development. This person should know you reasonably well, keep an eye on how you’re doing, meet you regularly. They are also a source of advice for things like:
- feedback received on work
- study skills
- option choices
- information about your course
Usually, you’ll have the same academic personal tutor throughout your time at Bristol, unless this is not possible, or you request otherwise.
Your school or department will organise a schedule of personal tutorials which may be small group or one-to-one meetings (or a mixture of the two), depending on your course of study. As a minimum you should expect:
- at least six meetings during your ﬁrst year
- at least four meetings in every other year
- at least one meeting a year on a purely one-to-one basis.
You should feel free to contact your personal tutor at any time outside of the scheduled contact times.
The senior tutor is an academic in your department/school who provides additional support if you need it. Your personal tutor may ask you to see the senior tutor if you have issues that are likely to signiﬁcantly affect progress with your studies without targeted support, help, and guidance. The senior tutor takes the lead on personal tutoring in their department/school, supports personal tutors and will be knowledgeable about alternative sources of support.
As the person overseeing personal tutoring in your department/school, you may wish to see the senior tutor if you have an issue with the provision of academic support or feel that you need to change your personal tutor for any reason.
Not all students feel comfortable discussing things that might have an impact on their studies with academic staff who are teaching them or assessing their work. If you feel you can’t approach a member of the academic staff, a member of your department/school’s administrative team will be designated as an alternative, conﬁdential source of advice. Please remember that all members of University staff are committed to supporting you and helping ensure your studies are successful.
I don’t get on with my personal tutor –what should I do?
Through no fault on either side, a small number of students will ﬁnd they cannot get on with their personal tutor. If this is the case, approach the senior tutor in your department/school, who will deal with the situation sensitively whilst ensuring you receive the support you need.
There’s an issue I don’t want to discuss with my personal tutor – where can I go?
There is support for students in lots of different places.
If you’re uncomfortable speaking to your personal tutor, the senior tutor should be happy to discuss your concerns.
If it’s something you’d rather not discuss with an academic, there will be a designated member of administrative staff who you can talk to.
You can also chat to the Student Wellbeing Service or, if you are in University Residences, to the Residential Life team.
If you need advice and are uncomfortable talking with anyone in your department/school the Students’ Union operates a conﬁdential and independent advice centre, Just Ask.
Contact your Personal Tutor
You should have been given your Personal Tutor's contact details at the start of your studies.
Contact your school if you are unsure who your personal tutor is.
Academic support and personal tutoring is about making sure you have someone you can rely on in the University to support you. Please take advantage of, and engage with, these support opportunities. Don’t suffer in silence or hope a problem will work itself out – most of the time it doesn’t.
If you feel you need to go beyond your department/school entirely, the Students’ Union's Just Ask service offers free, independent, conﬁdential advice from a team of professional, full-time advisers.
If you think you need different support
If you don't think this is the right support for you, find out where else you can get help.