Accessibility statement

York Award gold Postgraduates web banner with 2 August deadline

York Award Gold - Postgraduates

Applications for Postgraduate York Award Gold are NOW OPEN.

York Award Gold is an opportunity to show that as a postgraduate student at York you have;

  • Taken the lead in your professional and personal development
  • Learnt how to reflect on your experiences and achievements
  • Considered your skills values and personal strengths in relation to your career decisions
  • Better prepared yourself for job applications and interviews

How do I apply?

How do I apply?

Applications for Postgraduate York Award Gold are NOW OPEN for Summer 2020.

To access the application form, register your interest here.

The deadline for application submissions is 23:00 on Sunday 2 August.

Application form summary

Section 1 - Activities undertaken

You will need to list key activities that you have undertaken in the past 2-3 years that you feel have significantly contributed to your personal development. Where possible - we ask that you try to focus on experiences undertaken during your postgraduate study at York.  eg. volunteering, work experience, college committee membership.

Section 2 - Reflecting on your Strengths

In this section you will be asked to spend some time reflecting on your personal strengths and consider how you have developed these over your time as a postgraduate student at York. Applicants are encouraged to complete York Strengths Online as part of this section to support your reflections in the remainder of the form.

If you are an on-campus learner, you will be enrolled in York Strengths Online through the YorkShare VLE. If you are a distance learner, please email to be sent a unique link in order to access the course.

Section 3 - Reflecting on your experiences

There are then three reflective pieces for you to complete in this section, 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.

For each of the reflective pieces, you will be asked to choose one situation to reflect on from the list available below. Your completed form must give an account of your development in three different areas;

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. Managed a difficult situation or conflict
G.Worked with others to achieve a common goal

Section 4 - Summary

In the final section you will be asked to reflect on all the experiences in the past couple of years that have helped you to better understand yourself, your strengths, your interests, your motivators and your values to help you answer the following 3 questions (approx 200 words each).

a. What have you learned about yourself during your time as a postgraduate student at the University of York?
b. What do you feel has been your greatest achievement?
b. 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 skills, values and personal strengths 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 in Section 3.  The answer is split into three parts using the Gibbs model.

Work experience or volunteering -  relfect on a time when you made a difference within or outside of the University
escription - approx. 100 words

What happened? Briefly describe the experience (activity/project/event)

Answer: In Spring 2019, I undertook a York Students in Schools (YSIS) placement and volunteered as a Classroom Assistant in a Year 4 class at a local school in York. My role included supporting children with additional needs, listening to children read on a one-to-one basis, solving playground conflicts, managing behaviour and general classroom assistance.

The class I was placed with was known to be a particularly difficult class; with many children needing special supervision, encouragement, or support with their classwork. After 8 weeks with the class, I felt like I had made a really positive difference to the children’s learning and development, something that was reinforced by the cards, gifts and feedback I received from my class and the school.

2. Feelings, evaluation and analysis - approx. 250 words
What were you thinking/feeling? What were your reactions?  What was good and bad about the experience? What went well and what didn't go so well? Why do you think this was? How did you harness your strengths?


Whilst I loved meeting my class and getting to know each of the children, initially, I found the placement challenging. Being able to engage with people of all ages and backgrounds in a calm and respectful way has always been a particular strength of mine and I used this strength to effectively adapt my communication style to support children of different abilities and needs, particularly when it came to reading. However I struggled at times to manage some of the children's difficult behaviour and found it hard to take the lead under pressure. I often found myself feeling nervous when a child started to display negative behaviour as I was not initially comfortable handling these situations on my own. 

On reflection, this was simply down to lack of experience and is something every new classroom assistant and teacher must go through. Over the duration of the placement, I grew in confidence and was able to tackle challenging situations without feeling so nervous. I owe much of this to the support I received from the teacher I was paired with in my class who was such a fantastic role model for me. Watching how she handled conflicts in the classroom was really encouraging and rather than seeing these situations as a negative part of my experience, I started to view them as opportunities to develop and test my strengths in communication and resilience.

I was determined not to let my initial reservations and setbacks stop me from achieving my placements goals and making a difference to the children I was there to support. By the end of the placement, I was so eager to go back each day and continue to build on the relationships I’d been forming with the children and other teachers. I even started to enjoy the more challenging days as it gave me the most satisfaction by the end knowing the contribution I’d made that day as a volunteer.

3. Conclusion and action plan - approx. 300 words

What did you learn about yourself from this situation? What general conclusions did you draw from the experience?
How might you apply what you learned in future situations? Are there any actions you can take that will help to support your development moving forward?

Answer: My experience as a Classroom Assistant has taught me a huge amount. It has confirmed for me that I thrive in situations where I am able to use my strength as a communicator. I’ve learnt that body language, tone of voice and eye contact is just as important as being able to articulate yourself clearly and is crucial to helping children to understand the message you’re trying to convey. I’ve learnt that I enjoy putting myself in situations where I feel challenged, and although this can feel daunting, these types of situations present the greatest opportunities for growth.

Most significantly, I’ve discovered how rewarding I find working with children and how much enjoyment I get from making a difference to young people’s lives. Although very tiring at times, the relationship and mutual respect I have built with the children, particularly those with additional needs, has allowed me to manage their needs and give them the necessary support to help them reach their full potential. In over 100 hours of volunteering, I feel I have truly made a difference to every child I have tutored, whether this be supporting their social and academic development or changing their attitude to school activities.

Although teaching is very vocational in nature and there is a lot of ‘learning on the job’, I do think I could have prepared myself more prior to undertaking the placement by reading teaching blogs or academic theories into managing challenging behaviour and working with children with additional needs. This wasn’t something that was expected but I feel would have increased my confidence in my first few weeks of volunteering.

I am very aware of how scarce resources are for supporting young and vulnerable children in their educational and personal lives. This experience has ultimately confirmed for me how passionate I am about continuing to make an impact in this area. As a result, I have started researching potential routes into teaching and aim to explore this more as a future career. 

For Employers

Postgraduate 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 Postgraduate 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.