Supporting my students' study

Being an Academic Mentor is part of your teaching role at the School. Academic Mentors are expected to keep an overview of their mentees' progress in their studies as well as their overall wellbeing during their time at the School. 

A positive relationship with their Academic Mentor has a significant impact on our students' experience of their time at the School.

Students may have a clear idea of what they wish to discuss, or they may rely on you to lead conversations. Below are some examples of the kinds of questions you may wish to ask to guide the discussion.

Establish students’ interests

  • Why did you select this particular programme? Why LSE?
  • What do you hope to learn / get out of your programme?
  • What have you found intellectually stimulating so far in your studies?
  • What do you feel you have learned so far in your programme?
  • Is there any particular area you'd like to study further?

Autonomous learning

  • How do you spend your time outside of class?
  • How do you manage studying, homework and reading?
  • How do you plan your time?
  • Are you happy with the balance between study and other interests at the moment?

Setting learning goals

  • What do you hope to achieve over the a) term, b) year, or c) programme?
  • How do you plan to achieve those goals?
  • What are the first steps you plan to take?

Questions to ask about assessments:

Prepare for upcoming assessments

  • What assessments do you have coming up?
  • Have you ever done these kinds of assessments before?
  • How are you preparing for the assessments?
  • How are you managing your time?  Have you created a timeline for all your different assessments?

Interpret feedback

  • How did you do on your assessment?  Is this what you expected? (Why / why not?)
  • What kind of feedback have you received on your assessment?
  • What were the strengths of your work?
  • What areas of improvement were mentioned?
  • Do you understand what you need to do to improve your work next time?

Apply feedback to future assessments

  • In light of the feedback, what do you plan to do now?
  • How are you going to develop some of the areas of improvement?
  • Knowing what you know now, how will you plan for your next assessments?

How can I make the most of our sessions?

Before the meeting

You may want to ask students, especially before their first mentor meeting, to take the Me+LSE reflective tool which can help students think about their place within their learning since their arrival at LSE.

You could ask students to answer some of the questions on this form and send it back to you so you know a little bit more about them before the meeting. You could also prepare answers to a few of the questions and send them to new Mentees to introduce yourself.

Where can I hold the meeting?

As well as meeting in the more traditional office setting, you may consider either meeting outside of the office or having a ‘walking’ session. A walk around Lincoln’s Inn Field Park takes around 15 minutes – and by moving a mentoring session outside of your office, you are recreating and equalizing the power dynamics.  Students are now beside you, rather than facing you. This can make it easier for students to voice ideas about their learning and the links to themselves.

Group meetings can also be held in more social settings such as cafes or pubs, but bear in mind, some students may wish to discuss sensitive issues and should be invited to do so later on in a more appropriate venue.

During the meeting

To support your students, you may want to keep records of your meetings with students. This allows you to remember the students’ interests and challenges in their studies. Notes from previous meetings can also act as a starting point for future sessions.

Relate studies to current events

As students of the social sciences, students are often interested in current events, especially those that relate directly to their studies.  Academic mentoring sessions, especially group academic mentoring, can be a place where students can explore these connections and enter into dialogue with academics and fellow students.

To encourage this, you may want to plan a group academic mentoring session.  Consider meeting students in the Senior Common Room, a café, or Lincoln’s Inn Fields Park (weather permitting).  You may want to highlight a particular series of current events during a meeting, or you could just leave it open.

Relate studies to the students’ own experiences

While studying at university level, it is important for our students to have the opportunity to relate knowledge to their own lived experiences. Academic mentoring sessions can be a space to ask students to reflect on this, and voice how what they are learning is changing how they are thinking about the world. 

To encourage this, you could ask some of the following questions:

  • What have you learned that has surprised you?
  • Do you see any of these ideas / themes / concepts in life outside of your studies?
  • How does this make you understand yourself and your own context?

Working with the Disability and Wellbeing Service

Disability and Wellbeing Service – Key Information for Staff

The Disability and Wellbeing Service (DWS) plays a central role in assessing student needs and making recommendations for reasonable adjustments to remove disability-related barriers. DWS can advise staff on supporting students with disabilities, specific learning difficulties and mental health issues at LSE.

Responsibility for meeting the needs of disabled students is shared across the school, together we all support disabled students throughout their University career.

The legal context

The support DWS provides to students is underpinned by the Equality Act (2010). The Act requires universities not to discriminate against disabled students. This includes a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled students are not put at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with students who are not disabled.


A disability is defined as a condition which has a long-term (has lasted for 12 months or is likely to do so), substantial (not minor or trivial) and adverse impact on an individual’s capacity to undertake normal day-to-day activities. Disability covers a wide variety of conditions, encompassing long-term illness (often from the point of diagnosis) as well as physical or psychological problems, e.g.:

  • Vision or hearing impairments;
  • Physical impairments such as paraplegia, cerebral palsy, repetitive strain injury (RSI) and arthritis;
  • Mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders;
  • Specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder.
  • Long-term health conditions such as HIV, diabetes, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease/Crohn’s disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME, multiple sclerosis and cancer. A person with such a condition continues to be regarded as disabled despite fluctuations in the severity of their condition or, in the case of cancer, after recovery.

Reasonable adjustment

Reasonable adjustments are central to the concept of disability equality. Where a disabled student suffers, or would suffer, a substantial disadvantage, the University is under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to overcome that disadvantage. The intention is that the adjustments should level the playing field for the disabled student. It is important that adjustments meet the needs of the individual disabled student rather than providing a generic response to a class or type of disability.


Staff who are teaching disabled students may wish to refer to the Inclusive teaching guides for further information and examples of reasonable adjustments and examples of good practices.

Support from DWS

DWS experienced team of staff meet with students to discuss their individual support needs in confidence, they offer advice, guidance and support in the following areas: 

  • Confidential one to one appointments
  • Liaison with academic and other LSE departments to communicate and implement reasonable adjustments
  • Dyslexia and Dyspraxia screening and assessment service
  • Help applying for Individual Exam Adjustments such as extra time or rest breaks
  • Assistance with obtaining funding to support disability-related study needs, e.g. Disabled Students’ Allowance.
  • Advice on specialist equipment and software
  • Providing educational support workers (e.g. note-takers, readers, library assistants)
  • Mentoring support for students with mental health issues and conditions on the autistic spectrum.

Inclusion Plans

An Inclusion Plan is LSE’s system of recording the adjustments and resources which are deemed necessary to meet the individual needs of a disabled student.

Inclusions Plans are based on formal medical and other evidence, they are completed in collaboration with the student and is in place for the duration of a student’s programme at LSE.

You can find more detailed information about the Inclusion plan process here.

Deferrals, Exceptional Circumstances, Exam Barring and Interruptions of Study

In the role of Academic Mentor, you are likely to be the main point of contact for students when unexpected situations occur, such as serious illness or bereavement. 

This means they may come either requesting advice on whether they should apply for a deferral, exceptional circumstances, or an interruption of study. 

It is important to a) ensure students understand the differences between these options, and b) inform them of the procedures.

For International students, Interruptions and Deferrals can have an impact on Visas. 

Interruptions of study

An interruption allows students to take an authorised break in their studies for one calendar year. Following the interruption period, they will return to their studies at the beginning of the respective term. For example, an interruption at any point in the Lent term will require them to return at the beginning of the Lent term the following year. 

If a student is experiencing health or personal problems that are causing them to miss classes then requesting an interruption at the earliest opportunity is often the best option. This enables them to take a break and then return the following year to properly benefit from teaching.

Student who wish to interrupt their students must speak to you, as their academic mentors first, to seek advice.

If they are living in Halls of Residence, they should also discuss their intention to interrupt their programme with the Residential Services Office, as an interruption will have implications upon their right to continue to live in the hall. It can also affect student visas.  

Information for students returning from an interruption can be found here.


If a student has received full tuition in all of their courses, but circumstances beyond their control, such as illness, prevent them from being able to sit their exams or submit their dissertation, they may apply to defer these assessments to the next academic year. 

Students will need to complete the deferral form.  They should include reasons for wanting a deferral and attach any supporting evidence in with the standards of evidence table.  They will then need to obtain the approval of the Chair of the Sub-Board of Examiners for their degree programme. Finally, they will submit the completed form, including the Chair of the Sub-Board's approval, to the Results Team within the Student Services Centre.

You and your students can find more information on the LSE deferral website.

Deferral can also affect student visas.  

Exceptional circumstances

Exceptional circumstances are unforeseen circumstances outside of a student’s control which they feel may have had a significant impact on their academic performance, e.g. an exam or other form of summative assessment that they have already taken. Such circumstances might include, but are not limited to, illness, being victim to a crime, injury, personal/family problems and/or bereavement.

Students will need to complete the exceptional circumstances form. The form must be accompanied by appropriate official corroborating evidence.

They then must submit the form and corroborating evidence to Student Services Centre (SSC). Students can either give this to SSC counter staff or post it in the drop-box opposite the counter. These forms must be submitted within seven days of their last timetabled examination or formal assessment.

You and your students can find more information on the LSE exceptional circumstances website.

Exam Barring

 The regulations state that: The School may at its discretion exclude from an examination a candidate who has not satisfactorily attended the course in that year of study or who has not completed the work required in that course. Regulations for First Degrees [21]. 

By mid/late Michaelmas Term there are typically a number of students who come to the attention of AMs because of low levels of engagement or attendance. For these students, a provisional exam bar may be one way to work with them. Students should be warned early and clearly – with a provisional bar where appropriate – to give them time to improve their engagement, and meet the criteria to get the bar lifted.

Further information can be found in the Examination bar procedure guidance document or by speaking to the Student Services Centre, Senior School Advocate for Students or Departmental Tutor.

Repeat teaching

Students who have failed to progress or complete their degree but have exam attempts remaining can apply for repeat teaching. Applications are only considered if there are also extenuating circumstances. Guidance for students who are looking for repeat teaching can be found here.

The deadline for application is usually late July, when all documents must be submitted to the Departmental Tutor. If your students need to apply for repeat teaching, encourage them to start the process as soon as they can.