News, Teaching and Learning Gallery

Ad Putter 

Ad shares more detail about their practice us and how they felt about being shortlisted for a Bristol Teaching Award.  

  1. Which Award were you shortlisted for? 

Outstanding Research Supervision 

  1. How did you feel when you found out you had been shortlisted for an Award? 

I felt very proud. It matters more to me because it’s students who do the nominating. 

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your practice and why you were nominated? 

I started supervising research students almost as soon as I started at Bristol. I have supervised over 30 research students through to successful completion. Some are now my colleagues at Bristol; some are now professors at other Universities; and some have gone off to lead happy and successful lives outside academic work. Why was I nominated? I think my research students know that I care both about them personally and about the quality of their work. As a research supervisor you are at once a personal tutor and an academic mentor, and that makes it a special relationship. I firmly believe that looking after the interests of my research students does not mean making things easy for them. To write a successful PhD dissertation you have to meet very high standards in your research, your thinking and your writing. If you really care about research students’ work, you have to keep them to those highs standards. So in the nicest possible way, I am demanding (and I am a notorious stickler for clear and economical prose). This does mean, on the plus side, that when I stop asking for revisions, students can have confidence in the quality of their work.             

  1. What inspires you to go the extra mile with your teaching? 

I have a passion for my subject, medieval language and literature, and students who embark on research degrees share that passion. Their work always sparks some new ideas, so I learn from them and, by sharing my ideas with them, they hopefully learn from me. 

  1. What would you like to share with others about your teaching practice? 

I will just share a memory.  A PhD student (I won’t reveal the name) hands in a carelessly-written and carelessly-argued piece of work. I have to spend an inordinate amount of time annotating it. This same student, three years later, handed in an impeccable PhD thesis that is still consulted, and went on to co-author a chapter with me. That supervision early in the first year was gruelling and tough on both of us, but I now look back on it with pleasure, knowing it was the most productive supervision of the student’s whole PhD degree.     

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