A Student Guide to Personal Tutoring


What are personal tutors and what do they do?

The role of a personal tutor is to help students feel part of the University community.  They are a specific and consistent source of guidance, information and support for students throughout their studies.  The tutor should be your first point of contact for support. Tutors are academic staff, who normally teach and research in your subject area or a related area.

Your personal tutor has a vital role to play in enhancing your academic and personal development and is essential in ensuring you make the most of their time at university. They will:

  • Be your single point of contact to support you and signpost further support and sources of advice.
  • Help you settle into the University and make the most of the opportunities available at University with support, encouragement and advice.
  • Help you to reflect on your goals while at University; your academic performance and how you might develop further as an independent learner; how you are developing your graduate attributes and skills; and help you to consider your next steps in further study after your studies are completed.
  • They will work with you to address any concerns or problems that may affect your studies and find ways to resolve difficulties and get you back on track.
  • They will have open feedback and guidance hours each week when you can speak to them and they will respond as promptly as possible to a request for contact and in no more than three working days.
  • Once they get to know you, they may provide academic references for you when required.

Personal tutors cannot be expected to:

  • Give specific guidance on any modules you are studying out with their subject area.
  • Approve module or programme changes (you should contact your adviser of studies).
  • Provide counselling but they will ensure that you are signposted to the relevant professional services.
  • Provide immigration or financial advice but will ensure that you are directed to the appropriate contacts.
  • Answer every question that you may have but should know where to go or who to contact to get the answer.

To get the most out of the relationship you need to:

  • attend meetings regularly
  • respond promptly to communications from your personal tutor
  • take time to build up a friendly, professional relationship with your personal tutor
  • let them know if something is going wrong, so they can help you
  • keep in touch, even when things are going well

Whilst personal tutors can be approached about any issues relating to your time at University, the tutor may not be able to provide specific guidance on academic studies. In these circumstances your personal tutor may refer matters relating to your academic programme or module choices to an adviser of studies in the first instance.

There are a range of support services able to provide more specialist advice to support your studies and information. Details of your advisor of studies can be found on the portal, they can help with decisions about modules and your programme. The Student Services Hub provides a wide range of support services and Student Learning Services can assist with academic and study skills.

Meeting your personal tutor

You will find your personal tutor’s details in from your academic history on your Portal Homepage, click the link “View Personal Student Tutor/Supervisor(s) Information”.

You should see your personal tutor at least twice per year, usually at the start of each semester. These meetings give you an opportunity to seek advice, reflect on your goals for the semester/year and reflect on your performance so far.  You are actively encouraged to view your personal tutor as someone who can advise and support you across a wide range of issues and not someone whom you should only see when you have a problem. Meeting dates are agreed between the personal tutor and tutee.

You can agree with your tutor the best way to keep in touch.

Meetings are informal. The length of meetings will vary depending on the nature of your discussion but usually no more than 30 minutes. They can be held in a group with other tutees, especially when you first arrive at the university so you get to know some other students. However, you can always meet your personal tutor alone, or with a friend, at any time. Depending on your stage of study, your tutor will ask how you are getting on, what feedback you have received in the last semester, your goals for the coming semester. Some tutors also run more structured meetings to help you develop confidence in your academic and personal skills.

It is the responsibility of the tutor to establish contact with you and to arrange meetings.  However, ultimately it is your responsibility to attend meetings. Your personal tutor is someone who can advise and support you across a wide range of issues and not someone whom you should only see when you have a problem.

Conversations with students should normally be confidential and should not be discussed with anyone else without your permission.

However, there are occasions when it would be inappropriate to maintain confidentiality, such as the disclosure of illegal activity or activity that may lead to harm for you or others. In these circumstances, it would be appropriate for your tutor to discuss their concerns with other colleagues.

You should contact your personal tutor to explain why you have missed the appointment and to arrange another meeting date.

Tutors are encouraged to take a note of attendance at meetings and, although not obligatory, they may wish to make a record of the meeting. You can make your own note of the meeting and agree that with your tutor as a joint record.

Allocation of personal tutors

Your faculty will be responsible for allocating personal tutors.

Only those members of staff who have access to student records through the Portal.

Yes, you will be allocated a personal tutor.

Yes, you will be allocated a personal tutor.

Yes, you will still have access to a personal tutor on placement.

You will normally retain the same personal tutor throughout your studies whilst enrolled on that programme. However, during periods when your personal tutor is absent from the University for a significant period you will be allocated an alternative tutor.

Your personal tutor would not normally be changed if you are on a leave of absence.

This is because you are on a combined degree programme and your personal tutor is a member of teaching staff on this programme.

You will normally retain the same personal tutor throughout your studies whilst enrolled on that programme. However, during periods when your personal tutor is absent from the University for a significant period you will be allocated an alternative tutor.

If your personal tutor leaves the university you will be allocated a new personal tutor by the Faculty.

Dealing with problems

You should contact the Faculty Manager. Your school/divisional contacts can be found here.

If you don’t get on with your tutor or, for example, prefer a same-sex tutor, you can ask to be reallocated to an alternative tutor. Contact your faculty administrator.

Frequently asked questions

Yes. Your personal tutor won’t be able to work with you one-to-one to complete an assignment, but they can provide you with the opportunity to talk about what you are finding difficult to explore how you can improve or seek further help. If, for example, you are struggling with academic writing, they may be able to help you understand feedback that you have received, or they may provide general guidance on academic practice in their discipline. They may also direct you to support from Student Learning Services.

It’s your decision. If you are having personal difficulties that are likely to affect your studies then you are strongly encouraged to discuss these with your personal tutor. How much you choose to tell them is up to you. Your tutor will treat these discussions as confidential unless they feel that there is a risk to you or others, or if they need to share information with another service in order to access further support for you. It is especially important that you consider discussing difficulties that are affecting your studies if you have an assessment coming up so that you understand your options.

Yes. It’s a good opportunity to reflect on your progress and help to identify further opportunities for you to consider such as study abroad or co-curricular activities. Remember, if you build up a relationship now, then if times get tough it will be easier to ask for help if you have a good relationship established.

It's up to you. You can decide if it is relevant. If you require adjustments to support your learning, or your disability or disabilities are having an impact on your studies, then you are encouraged to seek specialist support at the university through the Accessibility and Inclusion Team and to consider sharing this information with your tutor so they are aware of your needs within the department. Any information you share with your tutor will be treated sensitively and will not be shared with others without first seeking your consent.

Yes, but only if you have got to know each other! This is another reason why it is important to meet with your personal tutor and build a professional relationship with them. Your tutor will be able to write an academic reference for you so long as they have access to further relevant information, such as your CV, job description or any other application criteria – remember to send these to your tutor along with any reference request. Good reference protocol would be to ask your personal tutor if they are willing to be an academic reference in advance and to check that they can provide a reference within the necessary timescale. Asking for a reference with less than two week’s notice may mean that your tutor cannot provide one for you in time – so plan ahead and give as much notice as possible to your tutor.