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.

As a student on a taught programme at UCL, one of your first priorities should be to meet your personal tutor. He or she will help you to get the most out of your studies, and provide support and encouragement during your time at university. Personal tutoring is organised by your department, and different departments may take slightly different approaches, but you find out how it usually works here. You  can also download the print version of this guide.

Your personal tutor can:
  • help you settle into life at UCL through practical guidance, support and encouragement during those important early days
  • provide opportunities to discuss your academic progress and develop confidence with independent learning
  • give you support if the going gets tough, from advice on keeping up with your studies to sources of specialist help
  • offer encouragement and an informed view with ways to enhance your academic studies and build your CV
  • act as reliable point of contact throughout your studies, enabling you to make the most of your time with us

If you’re struggling with work or personal issues, your personal tutor can offer advice and put you in touch with specialist services, so make sure you know when they are available. it's important that you keep in contact with your personal tutor throughout your time at UCL and they will be ideally placed to offer guidance on life after graduation, help build your CV and even write a reference to help with your future career.

Getting started

Your department will tell you who your personal tutor is and give you their contact details. Your personal tutor is usually an academic member of staff in your department. They will teach students, undertake world-class research in their field and will sometimes have responsibility for other aspects of teaching and learning, such as university admissions, education or assessment. You may have encountered them already in a different capacity. You will need to arrange a time to meet and establish the foundations for a relationship that will support you throughout your time at UCL. It’s crucial to make this connection quickly so that you begin benefiting immediately.

You should them set up regular meetings to discuss your academic progress, share opinions and get encouragement with extra curricular activities. If oyu are a postgraduate student only studying for a year, the schedule of meetings will be different, and you may find that you also build a supportive relationship with your programme director or your dissertation supervisor.

Find out more about how to make the most of these meetings

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)

Usually you will have the same personal tutor throughout your time with us  – your personal tutor will support you from induction through to graduation. 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, who will be able to help you connect with your tutor, or will identify an alternative tutor, if necessary.

Academic support

Personal tutors are not able to work one-to-one with you to prepare specific pieces of academic work. If you are struggling to complete work independently or experiencing other academic difficulties, you should still speak to your personal tutor. They will encourage 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, although 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 will direct you to other staff within the department who will provide support for your chosen academic subjects.

Pastoral care and non-academic matters

Personal tutors are highly qualified members of academic staff with different skills and professional experiences, but they do not receive training to be student counsellors, careers advisers, disability advisers or immigration/housing/money/welfare specialists. However, UCL has staff trained in all of these areas. Your personal tutor will be committed to supporting your wellbeing and will be able to direct you to further specialist support or guidance, when required, and they will ba able to 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 seek specialist support through 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.

Identifying opportunities

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. For example, will you Study Abroad? Are there extra curricular opportunities you might pursue? Remember that you may face difficulties later on and it’s important to build a relationship with your tutor so that you feel comfortable approaching them, should problems arise.

For me, it boils down to being a person who will listen and ask questions. I am continuously learning about what matters to students and what they find interesting. I am here to offer guidance but, most importantly, I think students value having someone who will step back from the detail and listen to them talk about their academic journey. 
Dr Cloda Jenkins, FHEA, BSc Programme Director, Department of Economics, Principal Teaching Fellow and Careers Tutor


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.

To find out more about how personal tutoring is organised on your course, consult your programme or department handbook online.