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Peer Assisted Learning (PAL)

Peer-assisted Learning (PAL) is a well-established model, which sees level 2 and 3 students leading sessions for level 1 students to assist with their learning, assessment ability, and life at university. It has a number of proven benefits to the students, the session leaders, and the university.  

We are currently recruiting PAL Leaders for September 2019!

What does a PAL leader do?

PAL leaders work in pairs to plan and facilitate sessions for level 1 students. While this can sometimes be challenging, particularly on top of your own workload, it is a challenge that our current PAL leaders report to be fun and rewarding in a variety of ways.

    The role includes:
  • Attending a one-day training event on either Thursday 19th or Friday 20th September 2019
  • Leading a group of level 1 students on a fortnightly basis for one hour
  • Planning your sessions using a range of interactive activities suitable for small group learning
  • Attending debrief sessions to update us on the progress of your PAL sessions
  • Communicating with level 1 students to promote attendance and aid session planning

We take a very flexible and understanding approach to the demands of student life but we expect PAL leaders to complete the duties of their role with a professional attitude.

Why should I be a PAL leader?

  • Develop a range of transferable skills which look excellent on a CV
  • A HEAR accredited activity, meaning you will have an extensive report of extra-curricular activities to show off to your future employers
  • Incentives such as a PAL Leader hoody and other free gifts
  • Hours contribute to the Brunel Volunteers Award and the Brunel+ Award
  • Meet people from your course, have fun and support level 1 students

What qualities and skills are required to become a PAL Leader?

 A commitment to volunteering  Leadership
 An enthusiasm for supporting others  Teamwork
 Communication  Friendliness and approachability
 An ability to facilitate a group  Planning
 Organisation and time management  Subject knowledge

What level of study are the leaders on my course?

Please note: you must be in the below shown level for your course of study in September 2019 to apply
Level 3 only Occupational Therapy

How to apply...

If PAL is in your department you will soon get an email from the PAL mailbox or an academic on your course with application forms and deadlines.

If you would like to find out more information about becoming a leader in your department, please contact PAL@brunel.ac.uk

Information for PAL Leaders

If you're a PAL Leader and want to find out what's been happening with PAL lately, join us on us on Facebook, or visit our Blackboard Learn page.


PAL Leaders attend a one-day PAL Leader Training event at the start of the academic year. The training is fun and interactive including small group activities and team challenges to provide students with the key skills that are required to confidently lead and facilitate PAL sessions. 

This is a great opportunity for leaders to meet everyone who they will be working with throughout the year including the ASK Academic Skills Team, Senior PAL Leaders, the Academic Coordinator and most importantly, the other PAL Leaders from courses right across the university.


All PAL Leaders are observed a minimum of once throughout the academic year by a member of staff in the ASK Academic Skills Team or a Senior PAL Leader. Observations are to support a PAL Leader's personal development and the feedback provided is to further skills and confidence for leading future sessions. 

PAL Leaders will be contacted to inform them of details of the observation including who the observer is and an outline of the observation process. PAL Leaders will also receive a blank copy of the observation form to understand what competencies the observer provides feedback on.

Debrief Sessions

PAL leaders will attend fortnightly debriefs with the PAL Project Manager, their Academic Coordinator and their Senior PAL Leaders.These sessions act as a 2-way mechanism to support leaders with their sessions, share level 1 student issues and develop PAL leaders’ personal and professional skills. Debrief sessions are timetabled for PAL Leaders and everyone is expected to attend.

Benefits of being a PAL Leader

  • All volunteering hours are submitted to Brunel Volunteers at the end of each term. Volunteering hours are accrued for leading sessions, demonstrating planning time, attending debrief sessions and training, and supporting PAL through other events.
  • PAL is a HEAR accredited activity. For PAL to show on a student's final degree certificate they must attend a minimum of 75% of scheduled sessions, and attend training and debrief sessions.

PAL Leader Conference

Each year PAL Leaders are given the opportunity to apply to attend the National PAL Leader Conference in November. Leaders and staff attend from all over the UK, Ireland and Europe and it is a great opportunity to share knowledge, make new friends and develop important skills for leadership. In the past, students from Brunel have attended conferences at the University of Bath, Bournemouth University and Cork Institute of Technology.


It is fantastic for us to receive your feedback about how we can improve PAL at Brunel. Here are some examples of what you might want to give us feedback on:

  • Suggestions about support and resources that leaders would find useful for their PAL sessions
  • Ways of promoting PAL to level 1 students or strategies to improve attendance
  • Your thoughts on the structure of PAL in your department

Please leave us your suggestions using our online feedback service by clicking here.

Information about Senior PAL Leaders

The Senior PAL Leader position provides students who have previously volunteered as a PAL Leader to challenge themselves with new responsibilities. This year, we have a team of 14 Senior PAL Leaders at Brunel who have all attended a one-day training event in September.

Key tasks performed by a Senior Leader include supporting the successful delivery of the PAL Leader training event, performing observations of PAL Leaders during their sessions, and working in a team to facilitate debrief sessions.

We will be recruiting for Senior PAL Leaders for September 2018 very soon!

Information for Level 1 Students

PAL sessions are one hour long and held fortnightly in term one and two (the structure of PAL sessions may vary depending on the course). They are led by second and third year students from your course who have already been through the topics and modules you are currently studying, and therefore can provide unique support and insight into how to tackle them successfully. 

The informal, flexible nature of the sessions means you can have a say in what support you want, the content you cover, and allows you to ask questions you didn't have answered in your lectures.

What is PAL and what will I get from it?

  • Achieve higher levels of confidence in your academic work
  • Gain deeper understanding of your course content
  • Work with students who have already passed level 1
  • Meet new people on your course
  • Ask questions you didn't get to in your lectures

These are just a few of the benefits you'll see if you attend PAL sessions during your first year at Brunel. 

It is important to note: PAL is not a remedial class; it is not just for students who are struggling but has been proven to benefit everyone who attends regularly.

How do I get involved?

If you are in one of the above departments, you will automatically be enrolled on the PAL scheme upon your arrival at the university. All your PAL sessions will appear on your individual timetables and you will also receive an email to your Brunel account with details of upcoming sessions. You simply need to turn up! There are no limitations on who or how many people can attend each session. 


We welcome your feedback about your PAL sessions and any ideas you have about how we can improve PAL at Brunel. Here are some examples of what you might want to give us feedback on:

  • Your PAL Leaders: have they done something you like? Could they do something differently?
  • Area of where leaders can provide you with more support in the sessions
  • The stucture of PAL sessions and how it works for you

Please leave us your suggestions using our online feedback service by clicking here.

If you have any queries, or do not receive information at the start of the year, please email: PAL@brunel.ac.uk

We currently have PAL schemes running in the below subject areas. All level 1 students from these subjects will have a timetabled PAL session.


  • Business School
  • Economics and Finance
  • Film and Television
  • Politics and History
  • Anthropology
  • English and Creative Writing
  • Games Design
  • BA Education


  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Electronic Engineering (including Computer Systems Engineering)
  • Maths
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Digital Media


  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Psychology
  • Physiotherapy
  • Life Sciences

Information for Academic Staff

PAL supports rather than replaces core learning for level 1 students. Its student centred approach creates a confidential and safe environment to support transition in to the University. Students work together to solve any problems they may have around academic content whilst sharing study skills to create more independent learners.

PAL is centrally managed through the ASK Academic Skills team. This includes training, facilitating debriefs, observation of sessions, attendance monitoring and evaluation. Every department has an academic coordinator who is responsible for attending debrief sessions with PAL Leaders, communicating key messages back to the department from PAL Leaders, Promoting attendance with level 1 students, and supporting recruitment, timetabling and evaluation.

If you are interested in setting up a PAL scheme in your department, please email PAL@brunel.ac.uk