Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement

Personal Tutoring

personal tutoring‌Personal tutoring is pivotal in helping students make a successful transition to HE and key to their academic progression and achievement. The role of Personal Tutor has three main aspects:

  • Providing academic support and guidance.
  • Providing personal support and guidance.
  • Providing students with sources of further support and advice.

These are the minimum expectations regarding formal Personal Tutor/Tutee interactions per academic year:

  • Level 4 - eight group and two individual meetings.
  • Level 5 - four group and two individual meetings.
  • Level 6 - two group and two individual meetings.
  • Levels 7 and 8 - two group and two individual meetings

Part-time courses should provide pro rata formal contact sessions. Please see Curriculum Framework Document 2016.

Personal Tutoring Guide

  • What Does Personal Tutoring Involve?

    As a Personal Tutor you are a point of contact for your tutees. You can help them to settle into the University; understand the differences between school / college and HE; understand what they need to do to obtain their award; help them choose their options; review their academic progress; consider their postgraduate study / career opportunities; and support their academic and personal progress, directing them to other sources of support as necessary.


  • About This Guide

    This guide is intended to provide an overview of the role of a Personal Tutor and the various academic and pastoral aspects of that role. It includes advice on how to deal with difficult situations and, on how to protect yourself mentally, physically and legally. It includes information on the support available to students and on how and where to refer students who may need additional support.

    Who is this guide for?

    This guide is for all academic staff who act as Personal Tutors - both those new to the role and those who are experienced. Various parts of it will also be of interest to all staff members who have contact with students and a general 'tutoring' role. As an academic member of staff you have been appointed because you are an expert / practitioner in your subject and you probably feel confident in this aspect of your role. However, you may feel less of an expert and less prepared to be a Personal Tutor. This handbook can support you in such circumstances. There is no absolute right or wrong way to do the job. The minimum requirements were outlined on the home page; these will be supplemented by your department's specific expectations and will depend to some extent on the tutees in your group. Exactly how you meet these will be left to your professional judgement and will be influenced by your own experiences, your personality and how much you enjoy the role.

    You will be supported in your role by your Head of Department, your Faculty Associate Dean (Students), a range of experienced colleagues and the professional student support services.


  • Inclusivity

    What is it?

    Inclusivity means ensuring equity of provision for all students at all stages of the student lifecycle, regardless of their social background, country of origin, ethnicity, gender, age, previous educational experience, disability or preferred learning style.

    Why is it important?

    The University aims to ensure that all students have good quality learning experiences, but there are many factors that impact on the quality of students' experiences including their previous educational background, expectations of university life, cultural differences and so on.

    Personal Tutor role

    As a Personal Tutor you can take a pro-active role in ensuring that all students maximise their potential. Consider how being a member of one of the following groups may impact on a student's understanding about learning and their experiences at the University:

    • BME (Black and Minority Ethnic students - refers to UK students only)
    • Widening participation (students from non-traditional backgrounds)
    • Students with disabilities
    • International students (who can be BME students in their own countries)
    • Mature students
    • Part-time students

    Of course, this can be a sensitive area; you cannot ask students about their background or personal circumstances and students will not want to be 'labelled' as belonging to one group or another. As a Personal Tutor, you need to be aware of the underlying factors that impact on student experiences and on their academic performance. If an issue arises, consider whether it is due to a mismatch between expectations and experiences and discuss accordingly.

    For more information please contact DCQE, or follow through the sections below.

    International Students

    Mature Students

    Students With Disabilities

    Distance Learning Students


  • Tutorial Sessions

    As a Personal Tutor you need to maintain regular contact with your tutees and have regular (real or virtual) scheduled meetings (individual and/or group tutorials). A good relationship between Personal Tutors and their tutees encourages students to talk about any difficulties before they develop into major problems. Tutorial sessions provide the opportunities to talk about these difficulties and academic progress in a structured and supportive environment.

    This section includes guidance about communicating and contacting your tutees, and organising the first and subsequent meetings.

    Organising Tutorial Sessions

    Managing Tutorial Sessions


  • Professional Boundaries

    Whilst your role will be to support and guide your tutees and to help them develop, your role is not to solve their problems for them or to act in loco parentis.

    For some of your tutees, University may be their first time away from home and they may be looking for a parent substitute. More mature students may consider you their peer or friend. Whilst you should be seen as a trusted point of contact, you will need to maintain a professional position. There may be rare occasions when this becomes difficult and personal and professional boundaries begin to blur.

    Protecting yourself

    Most tutors will not feel excessively burdened or distressed by the issues raised by their tutees. However, occasionally it is possible to become too emotionally involved or worn down by students' problems. Therefore, do not be reticent about suggesting to a student that they might be better discussing their problem with a professional. There are some circumstances where it is probably best to make sure, and record, that you have urged the student to seek professional support. This would particularly be in any case where they indicate an intention to harm themselves (or others), or express any suicidal thoughts. Students may not realise that help is available, and encouragement from a trusted tutor can make a great deal of difference to the likelihood of them accessing it.

    If you find it difficult to cope yourself, remember that the University subscribes to the Employee Assistance Programme. Call free from a landline on 08001116387 for counselling, information and advice; 08001116388 for legal, financial and tax advice; or visit

    It will be rare (and probably never happen) but there may be occasions when you are concerned about the immediate safety of yourself or another individual. In such circumstances, contact security immediately. Their emergency number is Ext. 3333. Routine enquiries should be directed to Ext. 3418.

    Please see the practical guidance for staff supporting students with a possible mental health problem here.

    Personal relationships

    Staff should not have or enter into any other relationship with a student that could compromise, or could be perceived to compromise, the relationship of trust. In this context a personal relationship is defined as a business or commercial relationship; financial relationship; sexual/romantic relationship; close friendship of a social nature; and/or membership of an organisation that is perceived to operate for advancement. The document 'Relationships - Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of Staff' has now been incorporated into the Declaration of Interests Policy; this document relates to relationships between staff and students, including what action should be taken if there are pre-existing relationships, including family.

    For further information see:

    Practical guidelines for staff supporting students with possible mental health problems final.pdf

    If you are uncertain about whether you should declare a personal relationship you should seek guidance on a confidential basis from the Human Resource Office.


  • Plagiarism, Referencing, and Research Skills


    The formal definition of plagiarism that the University uses is: 'the incorporation by a student in work for assessment of material which is not their own, in the sense that all or a substantial part of the work has been copied without any adequate attempt at attribution or has been incorporated as if it were the student's own, when in fact it is wholly or substantially the work of another person or persons'.

    Plagiarism includes:

    • Copying material from any source and using it without an appropriate reference (this includes computer language and programmes, scientific data and visual images - in addition to standard written text)
    • Collusion, where the assessment artefact is prepared by someone else and presented as a student's own work
    • Purchase of essay/project/computer programme, etc. (whether pre-written or specially prepared)
    • Submission of essay/project/computer programme written by someone else
    • Submission of another learner's work with or without that learner's knowledge or consent

    Both the Library and ASK can provide advice about these areas.


    Understanding how to cite and reference the work of others correctly are difficult areas for many students, both the Library and ASK can provide support about citations and referencing.

    The University Library supports students by providing:

    • Referencing@Portsmouth - An online, interactive referencing tool covering APA, Vancouver and OSCOLA (law)
    • Short printed guides, which can be ordered from the Library for distribution to students
    • The Library runs workshops covering all three styles; for more details see: Library Workshops

    For a complete list of referencing guides click here

    Both ASK and the University Library work in a co-ordinated way to ensure consistency of advice. As a general rule of thumb, the Library can help students with queries relating to technical referencing questions. If their problem is one of understanding academic writing and the use of citation practices in the construction of academic argument, then they can be advised to make a one-to-one appointment with an ASK Lecturer by emailing Academic Skills or phoning 02392843028.

    Research skills

    As a Personal Tutor you may become aware that your tutees do not have the necessary skills to find, use and evaluate information at the level required for successful university study.  This awareness may come through the PDP process (which includes questions about information use), through talking to them during tutorials, or when you are giving students feedback on their assessments. Students often assess their competence in this area as high (especially finding electronic information), but research shows that they often over-estimate their skills - particularly when academic information is concerned.

    The University Library supports students by providing:

    In addition, the Faculty Librarians and Assistant Faculty Librarians are happy to see individual students (this can be particularly effective when dissertation topics are being explored) or can drop into your group tutorial sessions if you feel this would be helpful.

    If you would like an update yourself, or to discuss how the Library can support your research or teaching, please contact your Faculty Librarian or if you are interested in attending one of the staff workshops see:


  • Student Support Services

    The majority of students will cope with student life and you may have a relatively passive role regarding their pastoral support. Nevertheless, you are likely to be the point of advice and referral for a range of academic and pastoral queries and problems. You may be able to deal with many of these queries yourself. However, you need to be aware of the range of support services that are available to your tutees within the University.

    For undergraduates, the first year personal tutorial sessions, study skills sessions, and other specific units will be designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in their studies. However, some students may need additional support or perhaps just want to enhance their existing skills. In addition, not only do some of these services assist your students they may provide you with useful information and resources.

    See more:


  • The Tutor as a 'Broker' - Redirecting Students To Appropriate Services

    The role of the Personal Tutor is varied. On occasion you may be asked to provide your tutees with a reference, help with a complaint or (hopefully, very rarely) be asked to guide them through withdrawal or transfer procedures.

    You may also need to act as a 'broker' and direct your tutees to areas of additional support. This section covers all these topics and more.

    Formal Processes

    Legal Matters

    Pastoral Care

    Professional Services


  • The UoP Model

    The University has adopted a model that contains elements of all three standard models of personal tutoring1 as outlined below.

    The pastoral model:

    A member of academic staff is assigned to each student to provide personal and academic support. The onus is generally on the student to initiate contact with their tutor and thus the support available may be unstructured and only available to those students who seek it out.

    A professional support model:

    Tutoring is centred on the provision of welfare and academic services provided by trained professionals. The professionals may be staff in a central service, or increasingly, in some universities, trained administrative staff. The system is based on student need and not aimed at integration into the curriculum.

    An integrated curriculum model:

    Students undertake timetabled academic study (generally credit rated) with their tutorial group. This model introduces students to their institution; tells them what is expected; helps them understand their own learning; conveys engagement, workload and standards expectations; facilitates peer support; and enables students to seek professional support when required.

    At Portsmouth we have adopted a holistic, inclusive, proactive approach that enables the development of relationships between staff, students and peers.

    All students have a Personal Tutor and take part in one-to-one and group tutorials; these sessions cover academic matters and activities designed to support students' transition, such as transition. Various aspects of the role are integrated into the curriculum, for example, study skills, careers, research management, project/dissertation supervision. These two aspects of the role are backed up with access to professional support services such as the ASK, ASDAC and the Counselling Service.


    1Earwaker, J. (1992). Helping and supporting students. Buckingham: SRHE and OUP.


  • University Policy on Personal Tutoring

    The University is committed to providing each student with a named Personal Tutor with whom they will meet (generally face-to-face, but alternative mechanisms will exist for distance learning programmes) regularly and formally during their time at University.

    The University's commitment is articulated in two key documents:

    Curriculum Framework Document

    Personal Development Planning (PDP)