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A Personal Tutoring Curriculum for Higher Education

During the period 2015 to 2017, whilst I worked at the University of Hull, I was seconded to lead an institution-wide project to enhance personal tutoring. During this time I became intrigued by notion of an academic advising curriculum which I'd heard about on visits to the NACADA Annual Conference in the United States. 

Adapting the notion to UK terminology, the curriculum of personal tutoring is what personal tutoring deals with. It is concerned with the university’s mission, culture, and expectations; the meaning, value, and interrelationship of the academic curriculum and co-curriculum; ways of thinking, learning, and doing; the selection of academic programs and courses; the development of life and career goals; and university resources, policies, and procedures.

Based on my learning from the US, I defined a personal tutoring curriculum for the University of Hull (you can read about some experiences of it here) and I subsequently adapted it to make it more institutionally agnostic. The curriculum, illustrated below, maps broad themes to different stages of the student journey and, for each theme, identifies specific outcomes the student should achieve and typical activities tutors can engage students in to help achieve those outcomes. 

Journey Point





Getting to know YOU

·         Building relationships

·         Easing the transition to university

·         Identifying ‘at risk’ students

·         (Video) messaging with tutor

·         Complete pre-entry survey via

FHEQ Level 4

Semester 1 – First 4 weeks

Getting Connected

·         Building relationships

·         Social integration

·         Settling in

·         Ice-breakers and team building

·         Note taking

·         Finding information and library skills

FHEQ Level 4

Semester 1 Week 5 onwards

Preparing for Success

·         Establishing the rhythm of the student year

·         Support tutees to be prepared for their assessments

·         Study skills assessment

·         Planning and writing assignments

·         Using references and avoiding plagiarism

·         Revision guidance and exam technique

·         Study skills self-assessment

FHEQ Level 4

Semester 2

Making the most of University

·         Working effectively

·         Action planning and using feedback

·         Engaging with extra-curricular opportunities to develop graduate attributes

·         Making the most of the summer break

·         Engaging with internships and other opportunities to develop graduate attributes

·         Using feedback for personal development – reflective learning and action planning

·         Time management, independent learning and organisation

·         Information on extra-curricular opportunities, internships and placements

·         SMART action planning

·         Make the summer vacation count for your future


Semester 1

Refreshing, Reflecting & Developing

·         Review FHEQ Level 4 tutorial content

·         Review study/work/life balance

·         Review FHEQ Level 4 assessment feedback

·         Create FHEQ Level 5 action plan


Semester 2

Enhancing your Future


·         Employability

·         Developing graduate attributes

·         Linking module selection to careers

·         CV and job application exercise

·         Career choice exploration and/or presentation

·         Module and option selection guidance

FHEQ Level 6
Semester 1

Becoming a Professional

·         Planning for the future

·         Selling yourself/your skill set

·         Reflecting on work placements

·         Employability audit – to identify students who would benefit from interventions

·         Managing your digital identity

·         Mock interview and assessment centre exercises with Careers service

·         Set SMART targets for post-graduation

·         Reflection on work placements and how the experience supports their plans post-graduation

FHEQ Level 6
Semester 2

Moving On

·         Transitioning out of university

·         Staying connected

·         Providing feedback

·         Explaining graduation and opportunities for remaining connected to the institution as Alumni

Download a print-friendly PDF (160.83 kb) of this curriculum. 

The original Hull curriculum also covered FHEQ levels 3 and 7 but I have omitted them in this adaption to focus only on the FHEQ levels 4 to 6 which comprise a typical undergraduate degree programme. 

I've found this notion of a personal tutoring curriculum, and one I have returned to personal tutoring work in other institutions since. I'm delighted to say that it was also picked up by the authors of Effective Personal Tutoring in Higher Education (which is an excellent read, by the way) and included, with some adaption, in their book.