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?

The next round of applications for Postgraduate York Award Gold will open in July 2020. Eligible students will be able to download a copy of the application form via an online link posted on this page.


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

Here you will be asked to reflect on your personal strengths and consider how you have developed these over your time as a postgraduate student. You will have the opportunity to explore your strengths through the York Strengths Programme for Postgraduates.

Section 3 - Reflecting on your experiences

There are then 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.

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 conflict or worked with others to achieve a common goal
G.Worked effectively with individuals from different cultural backgrounds

Section 3 - 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 600 words).

a. What have you learnt about yourself during your time as a postgraduate student at York?
b. What do you feel has been your greatest achievement in the past 3 years?
b. How do you believe your experiences over the past 2-3 years 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.  The answer is in three parts using the Gibbs model.

Academic Studies -  relfect on a time when you worked with others to achieve a common goal

escription - approx. 100 words

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

Answer: Throughout my year as a postgraduate student at York I have completed several group presentations, requiring me to work with others on my course to achieve a common goal. My biggest challenge however was the final presentation of the year, where I had to work together with my dissertation partner to deliver an assessed presentation, summarising our dissertation research to a group of 30 students and academics. The presentation had to be 15 minutes long with 5 minutes at the end for questions.

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 felt very apprehensive at first as there was only the two of us working together and the presentation counted towards our final mark for the module. Previous group presentations had at least four members in the group so this time I felt considerably more ‘exposed’. However, my partner and I were both committed to putting a lot of hard work into preparing for the presentation which helped put me at ease. We were hopeful that our preparedness would make the presentation less stressful.

After arranging which slides we would each produce, we separately created the written content then came back together to work out who would say what. We spent many hours together in a library study room, repeatedly going over our lines, adjusting the content and checking we could deliver the presentation within the time limit. On one hand, the long intense library sessions where the most difficult part of the experience as they were quite draining. Yet on the other hand, knowing that we were both working so well together and putting in so much effort was very rewarding.

Our ability to work effectively in a small team and our commitment to achieve a common goal definitely paid off as we received a distinction for our presentation which made my partner and I both feel extremely proud.

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: My experience of working in a team to deliver our dissertation research, alongside the other group presentations that I have participated in throughout my year studying my Master’s Degree at York, have taught me several things.

Firstly, that even though I can sometimes feel shy about offering my ideas to others, I am able to make positive contributions to a group task by utilising my strengths as a Pioneering Thinker. This has improved my confidence when working in a team as I feel like I have more of a ‘role’ in the group and other team members would often look to me when thinking about how the information could be presented in original and creative ways.

I also learnt the value of other people’s contributions. Prior to studying at York I would always choose to work on my own whenever possible and would find myself avoiding group work for various reasons. However my experiences at York have made me realise that working solo is not always better. Having people from different backgrounds all working together can result in a more diverse and interesting end result.

In addition, in terms of the presentation with my dissertation partner, although I was initially nervous about only working with one other person, this experience taught me that having less people in a team does not necessarily mean the goal is any more intimidating or difficult to achieve, and that working with others, regardless of the group size can be a very positive experience and make the task more enjoyable.

Overall I feel like I have definitely improved my ability to work effectively with others to achieve a common goal. I feel like I will now be more inclined to seek out opportunities to work with others, rather than avoiding group tasks. I also plan to meet with my dissertation partner to ask for feedback on what they enjoyed about working with me along with anything I could improve on when working as part of a team in the future.

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.