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Personal tutoring

Your personal tutor will help you to get the most out of your studies, and provide support and encouragement during your time at university.

At the heart of a UCL education is the idea that our students shape their own academic journey. Your personal tutor is there to guide you on that path and I warmly encourage you to work with them to make the best of your time at UCL.

Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs)

All students on taught programmes at UCL are assigned a personal tutor. 

Personal tutoring is organised by your department, and different departments may take slightly different approaches. 

To find out more about how personal tutoring is organised on your course, consult your programme or department handbook online, or speak to your departmental tutor or programme lead.
This guide provides an overview of how personal tutoring usually works. You can also download the print version of this guide.


Who is my personal tutor?

Your personal tutor is usually an academic member of staff in your department. Your department will tell you who your personal tutor is and how arrangements are made for meeting them. Your first meeting is essential to form the foundations for a relationship that will support you throughout your time at UCL. 

Usually you will have the same personal tutor throughout your time at UCL. In some cases, however, it will be necessary for you to be allocated a new personal tutor. If your personal tutor does change, your new tutor will make every effort to get to know you as soon as possible – and we encourage you to make every effort to know them, too.

If you have tried to meet your personal tutor and you discover that they are not available, then you should contact your departmental tutor or programme lead as soon as possible. They will be able to help you connect with your tutor, or will identify an alternative tutor, if necessary.


What kind of support can they offer?

Academic support

  • Personal tutors are not able to work one-to-one with you to prepare specific pieces of academic work. However, if you are struggling to complete work independently or experiencing other academic difficulties, your personal tutor can support you to develop an independent style of learning and help you to seek further specialist support with study skills.
  • As an academic member of staff with various research interests and expertise, your personal tutor will not always be an expert in all areas you are studying, but they will be committed to your general academic progress and development. If your personal tutor does not have expertise in a particular area of your studies, they may be able to direct you to other staff within the department who can provide more specialised support.

Pastoral care and non-academic matters

  • Personal tutors are highly qualified members of academic staff with different skills and professional experiences.  They will be committed to supporting your wellbeing, but they do not receive training to be counsellors or specialist advisers. UCL has staff trained in all of these areas and your personal tutor will be able to direct you to further specialist support or guidance, when required, and discuss how difficulties may impact on your studies.

  • 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 contact Student Disability Services, 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.


How can we build a good working relationship?

Personal tutorials give you a chance to reflect on your progress generally, including all your successes. They can also be helpful for identifying other opportunities that you might want to take up alongside your studies, so that you get the most out of your time at UCL. 
Remember that you may face difficulties later and it’s important to build a relationship with your tutor so that you feel comfortable approaching them, should problems arise.

This guide to conversations with your personal tutor can provide an excellent starting point for structuring your meetings and giving you ideas of things you might like to discuss together. If you prepare for your meetings, as you would for any other part of your academic programme, you will find you get much more out of them.

Make sure you always reply to emails from your personal tutor in a timely matter and always let them know if you can’t attend a meeting.


References

  • Your personal tutor can provide a reference for you, but only if they have got to know you. This is another reason why it’s 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 on your CV, and then always let them know when you are applying for a job, an award or a course to check that they can provide a reference within the necessary timescale. Asking for a reference with less than two weeks’ 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.