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Personal Tutors

Graduate School of Social and Political Science

Personal Tutoring Statement 2017/18

Any student's Personal Tutor will be a member of staff familiar with their general area of study and the expectations of academic work in their discipline. He/she will have a clear understanding of their role in supporting students' studies and how to direct students to any other support they might need during their time at the University.

Your Personal Tutor will:

  • help you to review your academic progress and performance regularly;
  • help you to think about your learning, how it contributes to your future development, prepares you for your time at university and your career;
  • help you to become a confident, active member of a community of learners;
  • help you to deal with any concerns or problems that might affect your studies and refer you to other staff in the School and support services as appropriate.

More extensive details on all aspects of the Personal Tutoring system, as well as other sources of support at the University, can be found at the following link: http://www.ed.ac.uk/students/academic-life/personal-tutor.

Discussions between you and your Personal Tutor will be confidential, but any notes of the meeting will be available to a small core group of staff who are responsible for supporting you. Further information on this is available on your Personal Tutor area of MyEd.

The Personal Tutor system in the Graduate School

In the Graduate School, the Personal Tutor role for taught MSc students is normally performed by the Programme Director of the relevant PG degree who is in charge of the academic content and student experience for this degree. Some larger programmes (such as the Master in Social Work) have one or more Personal Tutors instead of (or in addition to) the Programme Director. For simplicity’s sake, this statement uses the single term Programme Director to describe the role. Each taught MSc student has at least two individual meetings with their Programme Director in the taught part of their degree programme and one individual meeting in the research part (the dissertation writing phase).

One-to-one meetings:

  • During Semester 1, the meeting will usually take place in welcome week (week 0) or week 1 of the semester. It generally occurs after a group meeting introducing the content and structure of the degree programme and will ensure students are aware of the responsibilities and opportunities available under the Personal Tutoring system (including the chance for individual guidance, for reflection, for information on extra-curricular activities, to develop academic skills, etc).
  • All students will have a further one-to-one meeting in Semester 2. This meeting will typically be used to review academic progress during the first semester.
  • The third meeting will generally occur at the beginning of the dissertation period (March-May) and will involve preliminary discussions around dissertation choices and expectations.
  • Students may request additional meetings with their Programme Director at any time either via their MyEd page or directly via email.
  • If students are not on campus (e.g. studying abroad for a period, or on placement, or studying a Distance Learning degree) then meetings may take place by telephone, live internet call, or a web conferencing application. Email exchanges are not considered as meetings unless they take place within a pre-agreed timeframe to enable a “conversation”.     

Group meetings:

  • Each year students will be involved in group meetings and other activities designed to support their development as a member of the academic community.
  • They will generally have two group meetings with their Programme Director over the course of the academic year.
  • There is no fixed theme or approach for these meetings; Programme Director will try to respond to student suggestions. The meetings serve three broad purposes:

1) The first is to allow Programme Directors to communicate the programme content and expectations (e.g. detail of curricula and dissertation supervision).

2) The second is to allow students to engage with others in the same Programme and to share experiences.

3) Thirdly, these meetings will be used to provide information about opportunities to enhance students' learning experience, and develop non-academic skills while at university. Content will vary depending on the Programme but could include talks from the careers service, discussion of opportunities to study overseas, details of internships and volunteer opportunities etc.

Student support – Whom to contact?

All taught MSc students have a Programme Director, a Teaching Director, and a Student Support Team in the Graduate School. They can find out who their Programme Director is through MyEd. Contact details for the Student Support Team can be found here.

Tips for contacting the most appropriate person:

  • Programme Directors can advise on academic issues relating to the degree programme, for instance, study skills courses and opportunities for further study. They also offer generic advice on improving academic performance, for instance, if students keep receiving similar feedback from different courses. [Advice on specific feedback should always be sought from the course course organiser.]
  • Director of PG Teaching (Deputy Director of the Graduate School for taught programmes): advice if students have fundamental problems with their learning experience or programme director.
  • Student should ensure their Programme Director is aware of any issues that may adversely affect their studies. Programme Directors are able to advise on university procedures for dealing with difficulties, and refer students to support services available throughout the University.
  • Students can contact their Programme Director via MyEd or email. All Programme Directors also hold Guidance and Feedback hours at least once a week during semester time. Students can visit these Guidance and Feedback hours without an appointment. Details of staff availability will be available on their staff webpage, and will also be displayed on their office door.
  • When contacting their Programme Director, student should normally expect to receive a response within three working days (please take note of any automated out of office messages and turn to the Course Secretary instead).
  • Each Programme also has a Programme Secretary. Programme Secretaries can deal with routine issues, such as course changes, without students needing to arrange a meeting with your Programme Director. The Programme Secretaries are located on the first floor of the Chrystal Macmillan Building (CMB), in the Graduate School Office and Social Work Office, as appropriate.
  • If for any reason both the Programme Secretary and Programme Director are unavailable, students can visit the Graduate School Office Reception (First Floor of CMB), where staff will be able to assist with their enquiry.
  • Additional academic support is available from the Senior Personal Tutor and Deputy Director of the Graduate School for Taught programmes (email:  PGTdirector.SPS@ed.ac.uk), where students can direct their queries regarding any unresolved matters with their Programme Secretary or Programme Director.

Personal Tutors