What topics will we discuss & how does this relationship work?
When you meet with your personal tutor, conversation should focus around your academic progress and goals, any difficulties that you might be experiencing and how they are affecting your studies. You might also talk about your results and your feedback across your course.
Your personal tutor can help you to identify opportunities that you may be interested in pursuing outside of your studies to support your development and future plans - from internships and research opportunities, to studying abroad, joining a KCLSU society and engaging in our range of extra-curricular activities.
Your personal tutor can also support you if changes arise in your personal circumstances, by offering you the chance to discuss how these might impact your studies and directing you towards further specialist support at the university.
Our advice is to get to know your personal tutor; this relationship works best for you if you maintain good communications with each other; as with any good relationship, it requires effort from both sides. Having a good relationship is important, especially as you may wish for your personal tutor to write you a reference for a future course or job.
What academic support can I get from my personal tutor?
General academic progress
Your personal tutor will organise time to meet with you to discuss your academic progress in general. They are not able to work one-to-one with you to prepare specific pieces of academic work, but if you are struggling to complete work independently or experiencing other academic difficulties, then you should still speak to your personal tutor.
Your personal tutor can help you understand feedback that you have received from across your modules, or they might provide general guidance on academic practice in their discipline, but they cannot give you feedback on individual pieces of work.
You can discuss feedback you have received from assessments with your personal tutor, identifying any key areas for improvement and where you are excelling. However, you should discuss any queries about specific feedback or pieces of work with the relevant module leader.
Your personal tutor will encourage you to seek further specialist support with academic skills, if you need it.
Your personal tutor will not always be an expert in all areas you are studying, but they will be committed to your academic progress and development more generally. 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.
Use your meetings with your personal tutor to reflect on your progress across your degree programme; what new skills have you developed and how do these support your employability? Consider and discuss whether there are areas you are finding difficult and what support is available.
What other resources are there for academic support?
- King's Academic Skills for Learning (KASL)A range of resources and activities to help students succeed in their studies, covering topics such as maths & statistics, writing, presentations, as well as finding and evaluating information. As part of this you can book online or in-person 1:1 sessions with PhD Academic Skills tutors, who can provide advice with regards to academic writing or feedback on course assignments
- Teaching, Learning & Assessment with TechnologyGuidance on building online communities, engaging with remote lectures and preparing for online assessments.
Do personal tutors provide welfare & wellbeing support?
Even if a personal challenge isn’t affecting your studies, keeping your personal tutor in-the-know could be useful if these challenges start to impact your studies later.
Important to know: The personal tutor role does not require professional training for mental health support. Instead, personal tutors are trained to refer students effectively to appropriate support and teams within Student Services. These teams have staff specifically trained in mental health support and other welfare support areas.
We expect your personal tutor to be able to direct you to these teams when required and crucially, be available to discuss how any difficulties might impact your studies.
While personal tutors are not required to have professional qualifications in supporting mental health, they (like all staff) are invited to attend various information courses. See Raising awareness about mental health.
How much personal information should I share with my personal tutor?
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 personal 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 to access further support for you.
Important to know: Consider discussing difficulties that are affecting your studies if you have an assessment coming up, so that you understand how to apply for mitigating circumstances, if necessary. Further guidance can also be found in our article What are mitigating circumstances?
I’m disabled - does my personal tutor need to know?
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 Disability Support Team. We also encourage you to consider sharing this information with your personal tutor so they are aware of your needs within the department.
If you have a King’s Inclusion Plan (KIP), this should be shared with your personal tutor to help them support your study needs.
Will my personal tutor keep what I tell them confidential?
Your personal tutor will treat your conversations as confidential unless they feel that there is a risk to you or others, or if they need to share information with another service to access further support for you.
How should I prepare for meeting with my personal tutor?
Your personal tutor meetings provide a great opportunity to reflect on your achievement & challenges of the term or year so far, and set goals for what you would like to achieve next, while you are studying at King’s, so it can be helpful to think about these things in advance.
The Starting your Studies at King’s article and accompanying Reflection Tool are very useful for helping you to think about the academic skills you already have and what you would like to develop. You can take the Reflection Tool along with you to personal tutor meetings as a talking point, or share it with your personal tutor in advance of your meeting.
You may also want to engage with the Careers & Employability resources to help you understand what stage of future planning you are at, so you can discuss your next steps with your personal tutor.
Important to know:
- If you are invited to a group personal tutor meeting you can request a 1-2-1 meeting as well or instead; for example if there is something that you don’t feel comfortable talking about in front of your peers.
- You can also request additional meetings with your personal tutor outside of the ones that they schedule with you.
Remember to you let your personal tutor know if you cannot attend a meeting that has been arranged, and try to give them as much notice as possible. It is helpfully to suggest some convenient times for the meeting to be arranged as well.
Tips for talking to academic staff
If you feel unsure about approaching academic staff at networking events, or asking them a question about your course, this guidance provided by an Undergraduate English student may be helpful.
How should I approach/begin this conversation?
You are likely to already have a common interest: your chosen field of study. They may be an expert in something you’ve only just started to learn, but you both chose to invest in the same area of academia.
- If you’re in first year, maybe ask which modules they teach, and what these modules involve.
- If you are initially nervous about diving straight into a personal topic, perhaps begin with easy chat about the course.
- If you are taking their module, you can ask about what to expect and how you can prepare, if not you can ask them more about their area of research or teaching.
How personal should I be?
When it comes to bridging the gap between professional and amicable, feel free to take your tutor’s lead. It’s probably best to stay fairly polite and formal to start with, but it’s likely things will become more casual as you get to know each other. Your tutor may share some details about their personal life with you (e.g. what they did at the weekend) and you are welcome to share in return if you feel comfortable.
Can I ask my personal tutor for an academic reference?
You may want your personal tutor to provide a reference for you when applying for jobs or further study.
For your personal tutor to be able to do this, it is important that you have met them regularly and kept them up to date with your achievements.
You should give your personal tutor plenty of notice if you are requesting a reference, as these can take some time to complete, and you should also let them know in advance that you are including them as a reference in your application(s).
When requesting a reference, it is helpful to share your CV, the job description and any other application criteria with your personal tutor.
Please refer to our more detailed guidance on this topic in our article How can I get an academic/personal reference?