The Bartlett


Personal Tutors and their role in your academic journey

By Amalia Mihailescu

As a student on a taught programme within the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, meeting your personal tutor should be one of your priorities. Building a relationship with your personal tutor can help you get the most out of your UCL student experience. This article will help you understand:

  • What is a personal tutor? 
  • How can I find out who my personal tutor is?
  • What can I talk about with my personal tutor? 

What is a personal tutor? 

Since the start of your course you have probably already been in touch with a lot of academics, but your personal tutor might not have been one of them. Your personal tutor maybe someone who is teaching one of your modules, or they be an academic member of staff who is part of your department but is not personally teaching you.

During your programme of study your personal tutor will be a key part of your support system at university. Personal tutors are trained to give advice on both academic and non-academic issues, including signposting you to the right person or service if your question relates to an area outside of their expertise. Their aim is to support your UCL journey by encouraging you to take an active part in your learning and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Bartlett, the university and the Students’ Union.

Your personal tutor cannot work with you on your coursework or give you feedback on your design projects, but they can advise you on what you can do to get help for specific areas you might be struggling in and help you manage your learning effectively.

How can I find out who my personal tutor is? 

The way you normally find your personal tutor’s details is through your department, although this may vary depending on your programme of study.

Many of you would have already been contacted by your personal tutor during first term. You might also have had a meeting or several meetings with them, whether that was on an individual or group basis.

If you’re a first-year undergraduate, you may also have received your personal tutor’s details from your Transition Mentor.

Another way to find out who your personal tutor is by checking your programme’s Moodle page, which might have the information in a dedicated document, written under one of the course sections or presented in the contact list tab on the right-hand side. Your personal tutor should also be listed on your home page in Portico.

If you are unsure who your personal tutor is, you can always contact your departmental tutor or programme administrator and they can help you find out who they are. This information is only one question away. Once you know who your personal tutor is it gives you a great opportunity to take the first step and introduce yourself to them, if you haven’t done so already.

What can I talk about with my personal tutor? 

Your personal tutor is equally interested in your academic success and your wellbeing. That means that the topics you can talk about with them can vary from guidance on adapting to student life and managing independent learning to advice on extracurricular activities and referral to external support services.

If you have not already met your personal tutor, it is great to be proactive and reach out to introduce yourself, talk to them about your background, why you chose the programme you are on and what your plans might be during and after university. You can also ask them about their student experience, what their career has looked like since graduating and how they managed to get to where they are today. Discussing your prospects and opportunities to gain experience as you progress in your studies is always a good idea since they are up-to-date with the most recent developments in the industry.

You can also talk to your personal tutor if you are struggling with your studies, need any kind of academic support or just want to understand university policies better. While they cannot offer you guidance on any specific academic assignments, they can refer you to other members of staff that are able to give you more targeted support.

In addition, personal tutors have a pastoral role, meaning they are invested in your general wellbeing and can help you with advice on how to deal with non-academic issues that might be affecting your progress. You can talk to them about learning adjustments, if you have a disability and are seeking extra support, or if you are feeling overwhelmed because of your coursework or anxious about your next steps. Personal tutors can help you understand the extenuating circumstances process and they will be able to direct you to the services that you need.

Reaching out to your personal tutor now will definitely benefit you in the years to follow, so do not hesitate to do so and make the most of your time at UCL.

To find out more about personal tutors, you can check out the dedicated UCL webpage.