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PAL for Staff

PAL "enabled first year students to meet and converse with third year students regularly, make new friends, talk about their early experiences at University, discuss any worries related to the course and gain advice from students who were once in their position...with PAL sessions covering different topics relevant to their studies... suggested by first year students, enabling them to set goals and improve their skills"

"PAL Leaders benefit from gaining valuable experience of leadership, presenting, guiding and mentoring"

Dr Elizabeth Walters - Module Leader Psychology

PAL was originally set up using national HE STEM funding and is based on other successful peer support schemes in the sector. This is a growing area of practice and research and it is now recognised by the university – PAL features in strategic level plans for enhancing learning and teaching at the institution.

All schemes are managed and supported centrally by the Student Experience & Success Team, who work in partnership with programme teams. 

Key aims of the PAL schemes are to:

  1. Support the transition of new students into university life and study
  2. Provide an employability opportunity for students in higher levels

The scheme also strives to develop a sense of community and belonging for students in their programme/department, enabling inter-level interaction and an environment in which peer to peer learning can take place.

More can be found on the aims of PAL here.

Core features of PAL

  • Student ‘PAL Leaders’ facilitating regular small group study sessions – they take responsibility for planning and running these 
  • PAL sessions last for 1 hour and are timetabled (teams can choose frequency)
  • Sessions are student only spaces and students set the agenda
  • Sessions focus on academic aspects such as programme content and study skills and can also offer social interaction 
  • Staff can offer ideas, activities and course related resources to help PAL Leaders with their sessions 
  • PAL Leaders will NOT be expected to teach, but to support first years search for their own solutions 
  • Central coordination but partnership with the Department/School (SEST recruit Leaders, produce info for first years etc.) 
  • Full training and on-going support will be provided by SEST to the PAL Leaders – including sessions with Careers
  • All schemes are evaluated annually and PAL Leaders, students and staff can be involved in shaping how the scheme develops
  • Successful PAL Leaders receive acknowledgment through certification at the end of the scheme and the role should appear on  their new HEAR transcript.

More can be found out about what PAL involves here.

How could it benefit the department/staff?

  • Helps student transition (reducing anxiety, offering reassurance, understanding of processes and expectations etc.)
  • Better academic and social integration, overall student engagement and experience
  • Improved employability and transferable skills (for new students and Leaders)
  • Stronger sense of student community and belonging
  • Positive impact on achievement, progression and retention
  • Student feedback (potential feedback from Leaders on common issues)
  • Recruitment (positive course experience and use of Leaders in open days etc.)

There many possible benefits for students too - both for first year students and PAL Leaders.

Schemes are usually set up between January and April for a September start.  

If you are a student or staff member who would be interested in developing a PAL scheme in your programme or faculty, please email the team on

Students have really benefitted from being PAL Leaders in their personal and professional development.  They have learnt the skills of facilitation and how to not tell students the anwers but to signpost.  This is such a valuable skill for both Leader and participant.  The PAL team are amazing, they have done most of the leg work with my input, as programme leader, to organise [the scheme].  It took a few hours to begin with but has really gathered momentum and the student feedback is brilliant"

Dr Sue Jones - Programme Leader Pharmacy