Postgraduate York Award Gold

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

When can I apply?

When can I apply?

Applications for Postgraduate York Award Gold open in Summer Term each year.

For 2019, applications will open on 1 July and close on 28 July.



Application form summary

Section 1 - Activities undertaken

You will need to list key activities you have undertaken during your time at York,  eg. volunteering, work experience, society membership.

Section 2 - Reflecting on your Strengths

Here you will be asked to reflect on your personal strengths and 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 time at York

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 area of skill or competency to reflect on, from the list of six available. In total you will write about three of the areas below, one for each reflective piece:

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

Section 3 - Summary

In the final section you will be asked to summarise your time at York and what you have learned about yourself (approx 250 words).

a. What have you learnt about yourself during your time at the University of York?
b. How do you believe this will influence your career decisions, now and in the future?

You might want to consider discussing: experiences which have shaped your values; experiences which have helped you to better understand yourself, your skills and your strengths; examples of times when you have been aware of your values affecting your decisions or choices.

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 - presenting to a peer group

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

Answer:  I worked with four others 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 practice 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

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.