UCL Medical School


Personal Tutors: Years 1 - 3

The early years of the MBBS course are a big step up from A-Levels and can be a culture shock for some students with the change in intensity to studying, the move to a big city (or indeed the upset of missing out on the move), and new social challenges. There are also current challenges like adjusting to a post-Covid style of learning and the cost of living.

Because of all these pressures, the role of the PT is more important than ever, as many will turn to their PT as a source for support.

Things to Talk About

It’s a good idea to have a brief plan ahead of meeting your tutees of what you will talk about and then once in the meeting decide between you on what outcomes you would like to have. Contact should aim to include a review of progress, relevant pastoral advice, course and career progression, and any follow-up from previous discussions.  Students should be invited to raise any achievements or concerns.

Below are some suggested topics for discussion.

Year 1

  • How are you settling in? e.g. transitioning into university life, adjusting to life in London, making friends
  • Exam preparation, revision techniques
  • Results after formative exams
  • See below for more examples in Students In Difficulty

Year 2 

  • How are you settling back in?
  • Reflecting on last year’s results
  • Exam preparation / results
  • Pick up on any special circumstances
  • Plans for year 3 iBSc year.
  • Discussing any achievements or concerns they may have

Year 3

  • Will mostly meet with their iBSc tutors.

Managing each meeting 

Explain your role as a Personal Tutor and what you expect of them. Make the student feel welcome and demonstrate you are interested in what they have to say.

Listen carefully and ask open questions to help them explore how they are feeling more. It may be helpful at the end of the session to discuss when you may have another, or to make it clear who should next contact who.  


Helping a Student Reach Their Potential

Personal Tutors should help their tutees make the most of their time at UCL; e.g. developing study skills, exam preparations, and giving advice about SSC / iBSc options.

Personal Tutors are well placed to encourage students to think of their own professional development though applying for prizes and awards, developing their curriculum vitae, or participating in extracurricular activities. 

Sometimes, Personal Tutors may need to help their tutees gain the right work-life balance. Some students need encouragement to make time for extra-curricular opportunities alongside their studies, while other tutees may need help in prioritising their studies. 


Programme Outline

When you log into ASR you will have access to the Curriculum Map which breaks down the programme for each of the years. From here you can gain an overview of each of your tutees’ proposed learning outcomes to help assist with your discussions.


Students in Difficulty

For most of the time, the majority of medical students cope well with the demands of university life and the MBBS programme. However, there are inevitably periods when the going gets tough for some, when they get themselves into academic or personal difficulties or encounter situations that undermine their confidence and capabilities.

The Personal Tutor is often the first point of contact for students, and it is important that tutees are aware of the role of the Personal Tutor and the limitations to what a tutor can do before referring a student to a more specialised source of support.

Academic difficulties

Some students fail some things: This is not unexpected.

They may ask your advice when they fail or get low scores. Personal Tutors should give accurate advice and support on assessment related matters; in these situations, you may wish to help your tutee set some objectives for improvement and encouragement in developing an independent style of learning. The Divisional Tutor's Office will meet with students who significantly fail summative examinations. 

Where a student does not progress to the next year of study, it is normal practice for the Personal Tutor to continue to provide support until they successfully progress or leave the programme. These students usually require additional supervision and support from the Divisional Tutor's Office, especially in cases of interruption or withdrawal.  In these circumstances you will be kept abreast of developments.

Health & wellbeing difficulties 

Students may ask for help and advice for a range of personal problems. These can range from difficulties with accommodation and financial hardship to acute physical/mental illness. Clinical staff are often approached for confidential medical advice (for tutees and their extended family). 

Many issues can be successfully managed locally and Personal Tutors are encouraged to provide sensible advice, guidance and follow-up, if needed. 

Crucially, the Personal Tutor is in a unique position to signpost to other UCL support services and can discuss how difficulties may impact on the student’s studies and progression. Below is a list of resources you can use to refer the tutee on elsewhere where necessary.

Where there is a serious and urgent problem please contact the Divisional Tutor's Office. The Divisional Tutor is responsible for the wellbeing of students enrolled on the programme. If you have a serious concern contact you should contact medsch.mbbstutors@ucl.ac.uk in the first instance, if necessary copying the Divisional Tutor direct, Dr Will Coppola (medsch.divisional-tutor@ucl.ac.uk).

Useful Resources


Students with Disabilities

UCLMS welcomes disabled students and will make reasonable adjustments to support disabled students on the medical programme. The aim is to promote and implement an inclusive learning and teaching environment, allowing students to study as independently as possible during their time at UCLMS. Personal tutors should be aware of UCLMS policy regarding students with disabilities, the role of Statements of Reasonable Adjustments (SORAs) and Support Cards, and be prepared to discuss means of support available.



Personal tutoring at UCLMS aims to provide continuity and enable the tutor to provide advice based on a relatively lengthy experience and understanding of individual students. Trust and sensitive handling of information is an important aspect of this relationship. 

However, Personal Tutors are reminded they represent UCL Medical School and the relationship is not that of a doctor-patient or employer-employee.  It is usual for issues raised through contacts to be included in meeting notes, but this must be by mutual agreement (except where fitness to practise or danger to self or others is concerned).

You must not divulge student information to external parties (including parents) without explicit written consent from the student. All such enquiries should be referred to the Personal Tutoring inbox in the first instance.

Personal Tutors’ reports may be used by UCLMS in determining issues of progression and in considering in-course performance at Examiners’ meetings.  

Where a tutor feels unable to deal with issues raised or has concerns about a student’s health or wellbeing the student should be referred to Divisional Tutor's Office for additional support. Referrals can be made via ASR.

If a tutor is unsure how to respond to a situation, they should get in touch with the Personal Tutoring inbox.


Support for Personal Tutors

There will be times when tutors will encounter very challenging situations or have a tutee experiencing very serious circumstances sometimes leading to concerns over their safety. This can sometimes be stressful and distressing for the tutor. Confidential support is available and tutors are encouraged to contact the Personal Tutoring inbox for advice and support.