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Applications for York Award Gold 2020 are now closed.

As a step-up from the first level York Award, York Award Gold has a much greater emphasis on reflective learning and will show us that you have:

  • Taken the lead in your personal and professional development
  • Undertaken a range of experiences and activities within and outside of your course
  • Learned how to reflect on your achievements
  • Considered your interests, motivators and values in relation to a career direction
  • Better prepared yourself for job applications and interviews

Please note, the York Award offer has been reviewed for 2020/21. York Award will be available for all students and we expect to update this information during Autumn Term 2020. Please check back for further information as it becomes available.

Who can apply?

York Award Gold is open to third/final year undergraduate students ONLY.

Applications for 2020 have now closed.

Application form summary

The assessment process for York Award Gold requires you to submit a reflective application form answering the following three sections:

Section 1 - Activities undertaken

You will need to list key activities you have undertaken during your time at York so far that have contributed to your personal development in some way eg. volunteering, work experiences, society membership.

Section 2 - Reflecting on your Strengths

As part of your application form you will be asked to spend some time reflecting on your personal strengths and your development in light of the York Strengths Framework.

Section 3 - Reflecting on your time at York

There are three reflective pieces for you to complete in this section (max 600 words each), relating to common areas of student experience: work and/or volunteering; personal interests and/or hobbies; and academic studies. 

To help guide your answers each piece is split into three parts, similar to stage one of the York Award.

For each of the reflective pieces, you will be asked to consider how your experience has helped you develop in one particular area from a list provided. 

A. Took the initiative or demonstrated an innovative approach
B. Adapted your style of communication to suit a particular audience
C. Made a difference within or outside of the university
D. Sought to address an area of weakness or overcame a significant challenge to you
E. Developed leadership or project management skills
F. Worked with others to achieve a common goal

These are situations often used by employers in a recruitment process. You should select your experiences solely on your time as a student at the University of York, using examples that you would choose to talk about in a job application/interview. You should also consider when writing your answers how you have demonstrated your skills, used your knowledge or harnessed your Strengths.

Section 3 - Summary

In the final section you will be asked to provide a summary of your experiences, reflecting on what they have taught you about yourself, your strengths, interests, motivators and values. write a short piece about your values. There are 3 questions in this section:

a. What have you learnt about yourself during your time at the University of York?

b. What do you feel has been your greatest achievement?

c. How do you believe your experiences have influenced your career decisions, now and in the future?


Have a look at our learning materials on reflection and values.

Learning materials

York Award Gold requires you to write three reflective pieces and then to consider your values in relation to potential career choices.

To help you prepare your application please make use of the learning materials via the link below.

York Award Gold - reflective writing and values learning materials

York Award Gold and the related learning materials are based on the Gibbs theoretical model of reflective learning.

‘It is not sufficient simply to have an experience in order to learn. Without reflecting upon this experience it may quickly be forgotten, or its learning potential lost. It is from the feelings and thoughts emerging from this reflection that generalisations or concepts can be generated. And it is generalisations that allow new situations to be tackled effectively.’ (Gibbs 1988)

Example answer

This example will give you an idea of how to answer the York Award Gold questions.  The answer is in three parts using the Gibbs model.

Academic studies - presenting to a peer group

1. Description - approx. 100 words
What happened? Briefly describe the experience (activity/project/event)

Answer: In my second year I worked with four others in my seminar group on a small business project plan. I was asked by the tutor to deliver a presentation. We prepared the presentation as a group but I delivered it to about 30 other students. The presentation was ten minutes long and I used PowerPoint along with some handouts. We had also made a short video to show, adding variety to the presentation. At the end of my presentation I took questions from the rest of the seminar group and the tutor gave me feedback.

2. Feelings and evaluation - approx. 200 words
What were you thinking/feeling? What were your reactions?  What was good and bad about the experience?

Answer: I had always been nervous about presenting and was now faced with standing in front of a lot of people and presenting my groups’ findings. I felt such a responsibility to the rest of the group and wanted to back out of doing the presentation. I suggested that someone else present but was told everyone would be asked to present at some point. I felt silly trying to back out, so I thought it would be best to take a deep breath and get on with it!

The actual experience of presenting wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be, I think the fact I was well-prepared helped. I was very nervous and felt that I was visibly shaking the whole time though which was embarrassing.

I found the question and answer section at the end the most enjoyable part of the experience. The subject of small business start-ups greatly interests me and it was good to hear different viewpoints and discuss the subject with the rest of the group. It was also encouraging to see that everyone was interested in what I presented.

3. Conclusion and action plan - approx. 300 words
What did you learn about yourself? What general conclusions did you draw from the experience?
How might you apply these conclusions in the future? Are there any actions you can take right now?

Answer: Through this experience I learnt several things about myself. Firstly, that it’s healthy to be nervous about presenting to others, it meant that I cared and wanted to do well! Secondly, I learned from the tutor’s feedback that I appeared calmer than I felt on the inside and this has made me feel more comfortable about standing in front of an audience. I was nervous about being criticised by the tutor but their feedback was actually really helpful and made me feel more positive about improving in the future.

I also learned that because I was confident with the material I was delivering, I enjoyed the presentation more. However, one useful conclusion I can draw from the experience is that you can be too well prepared and this isn’t always a good thing. In my practise sessions in front of a few friends I had far too much information on my slides and kept losing track of where I was. This also meant I wasn’t looking at the audience enough. So I cut down the information and used the slides as memory joggers rather than a script. I still struggled with this a bit and forgot a few things, so my tutor made a helpful suggestion for the future - to try using cards with a few extra notes on to prompt me if I forget.

In terms of actions I can take - I have already signed up to an improvisation class in my college! I think this will help to develop my confidence being in front of an audience and without a script and should be fun too. I also want to learn more about using PowerPoint in more interesting and interactive ways so I’m not just talking at the audience.

For Employers

York Award Gold requires students to reflect on their personal and professional development during their time at the university of York.

A student who has gained York Award Gold has taken a proactive approach to life at university, taking the lead in their own professional and personal development.  They have undertaken a range of self-led extracurricular experiences, often with a high level of responsibility, alongside their degrees studies.  These experiences will include work experiences (paid and/or unpaid) and personal development opportunities.  They have also learned how to write reflectively about their achievements, evaluating their transferable skill set and considered their values in relation to career decisions.

Contact us.  If you have any York Award questions please email: