Personal tutors

Personal tutors help you with your academic and personal development while you are at university. Your personal tutor will know you and will help you get the most out of your studies.

In schools with exceptionally large student cohorts, a panel or team of personal tutors may be used for postgraduate taught students.  If this applies, your school will make you aware of the names and contact details for all team or panel members.

Your academic personal tutor will:

  • Monitor and discuss your academic progress with you and help you reflect on feedback.
  • Help you develop your sense of belonging within your academic discipline and provide advice on the development of academic skills.
  • Help you to reflect on your learning and formulate plans for academic, personal, and professional development.
  • Provide advice about your programme, including study choices, and help you understand university policies and procedures.
  • Help you transition to, within, and from university.
  • Respond in a timely manner to your email communications or requests for a catch-up.
  • Contact with you as outlined in your school personal tutoring statement.
  • Get to know you as an individual and be able to write you a reference for employment, voluntary work or further study. It may be more appropriate for the project supervisor to act as the referee for Postgraduate Taught students.
  • Listen to your pastoral issues and concerns sensitively and signpost you to specialist support if needed, e.g. the Senior Tutor, the Student Wellbeing Service, Residential Life, the Careers Service, the Library or the Study Skills team.
  • Deal with information you disclose sensitively, respecting confidentiality but escalating any concerns when appropriate.

As a tutee, you will:

  • Ensure you understand the role of your personal tutor.
  • Be proactive in seeking support from your personal tutor when required.
  • Reflect on your academic progress, be aware of your skills development needs and engage in personal development planning.
  • Actively participate in the meetings with your personal tutor (whether they are face-to-face or online) and to consider the advice and feedback from your tutor.
  • Inform your Personal Tutor (or Senior Tutor) promptly of any circumstances (such as illness, anxiety, bereavement) which are affecting your academic work.
  • Familiarise yourself with the other support structures and services available at the University and to make effective use of them.
  • Attend and prepare for all meetings with your personal tutor (whether they are face-to-face or online) and respond promptly to any communication from them.
  • Tell your personal tutor if you are unable to attend a scheduled meeting for good reason and arrange an alternative meeting if appropriate.

How personal tutoring works

You will usually meet your personal tutor in the first week of term.

Before you meet your tutor

We recommend that you note down any particular things that you’d like to discuss in a Personal Development Plan (PDP) portfolio.

  1. What are you looking forward to?
  2. Are there any things that you are unsure about?
  3. What skills would you like to develop during your time here?

Usually, you’ll have the same academic personal tutor throughout your time at Bristol, unless this is not possible, or you request otherwise.

If you are a Postgraduate Taught student in a school where a team of personal tutors is used, you should usually be able to see the same tutor, if you request this when booking an appointment.

Your school or department will usually 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.

Due to coronavirus, in 2020/21 most meetings with your personal tutor are likely to take place online.  As a minimum you should expect:

Undergraduate students:

  • 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.

Postgraduate Taught students:

  • At least three meetings in Teaching Block 1
  • At least one meeting in Teaching Block 2

You can also contact your personal tutor at any time outside of the scheduled contact times.

Senior Tutor

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.

Administrative and other support

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.

You can also chat to the mental health and wellbeing services or, if you are in University Residences, to the Residential Life team. The Students’ Union also 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. If you are unsure who your personal tutor is, or if you have not been given contact details of the personal tutor panel or team, where this applies to you, contact your school.

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