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BISC Skills Award


BSA Badge 1 colourThe BISC Skills Award is designed to help you get the most from co-curricular activities at the BISC. By working on your goals and participating in events and programmes, you will get the opportunity to develop skills that will contribute to your personal development, support your studies and aid your career prospects.

To qualify for the Award, you create and submit goals with the help of your coach, and participate in activities from a range of different skills areas. The final stage of the Award is to write a personal reflection.

Graduate Attributes

Transparent StrapYour goals, activities and reflection will be informed by the BISC Graduate attributes. Graduate attributes are the skills, personal qualities and understandings that you can work to develop through the BSA and your academic activities to prepare you for the rest of your academic career and beyond. BISC graduates should be able to demonstrate the following six attributes on completion of their time at the BISC:

  • academic excellence
  • self awareness
  • resilience
  • effective communication
  • professionalism
  • global citizenship

Principal's Welcome

PatrickDeane2Students attend university with differing expectations. Some choose their course of study with a very clear career path in their minds, while others—perhaps most—have not yet formed a clear idea of what they would like to do with their lives, and are still exploring. All motives for coming to university are good—so long as in one way or another the student’s goal is personal growth.

While opportunities for growth inevitably present themselves in formal courses of study, life outside of the classroom is in that respect no less promising. Indeed, the dialogue that occurs between those two worlds, the process by which students extend ideas and disciplines acquired in the classroom into an engagement with their communities and their non-academic experiences: this is potentially the most enriching aspect of student life.

It is also, unfortunately, a dimension of the university experience that is often overlooked in our tendency to focus on a narrow set of career outcomes. The BISC Skills Award (BSA) is intended to encourage you to attend deliberately, thoughtfully, and consistently to those broader aspects of your personal development. Accordingly, you are invited to work with a coach to improve not only your academic skills, but your capacity for self-management and support, your understanding of how you and your work may contribute to the good of others, and the skills you may need in order to embrace your future with confidence, initiative and imagination.

This program is unique to the Bader International Study Centre, and I encourage you to make the most of it before you return to resume your studies at your home institution, whether that is Queen’s or any other university. What the BSA seeks to foster in you has currency anywhere in the world and in almost any walk of life!

I am very pleased to support the BSA because it supports a goal which I regard as of the highest importance: your development as a thoughtful, effective, well-informed and humane contributor to the good of society and the world. A Principal’s Commendation will be conferred each year on the student whose participation in the program most clearly exemplifies its values and goals.

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University

Visual Guide to BSA

The BISC Skills Award - A Student Testimonial

Step 1: Goals

Setting your own goals is the first part of the BSA. Over the course of the two semesters, you will work on three goals, each of which reflects one or more of the BISC Graduate Attributes. Your coach will help you formulate relevant goals and make an action plan to help you complete them. Look out for workshops and other resources to help you set your goals.

Creating SMART goals:

Make sure you use SMART goals - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely

  • SPECIFIC. Don't make your goal too general. Ask the what, when, where, how questions of your goal - can you answer them? If not, they are not specific enough.
  • MEASURABLE. How will you know if you reached your goal? What evidence is there? e.g. a goal of 'studying harder' is neither specific nor measurable.
  • ACHIEVABLE. Your goal must be achievable. Don't forget you will be very busy with academics and activities.
  • RELEVANT. The goal should also be relevant to your own needs and to the BISC Graduate Attributes.
  • TIMELY. Finally, your goal should be able to be completed within a specific time-frame. You should aim at completing your goals at different times during the year so that you have time to write your reflection.

Submitting your goals

You are free to set anything from one to three goals in the Fall Semester and can complete one goal before the end of the Fall Semester. To be considered for the Principal’s Commendation, you should consider working on at least one goal over two semesters.

When you have created your goal(s), submit them in the BSA section of OnQ. Your coach will help you create an action plan for your goals. Make sure you record your progress towards goals and update your coach on your progress.

Step 2: Activities

The second part of the BSA involves engagement with co-curricular activities. Activities are your opportunity to develop your skills and contribute to the community of the BISC. Two types of activities make up the BSA: organised activities and independent projects.

Organised Activities

Organised activities are arranged by Student Services, Faculty members and the Musicians in Residence and range from one-off skills workshops to Committee memberships and choir. Several of these activities are unique to the BISC, including dog training through the Learning Theory Project, and an innovative music project run in collaboration with the Julliard Music School. The OnQ BSA section will list current BSA opportunities.

Independent Projects

Independent projects are your opportunity to design and develop your own project, either individually, or in groups. Activities must align with one or more of the skills areas (see below). The project might be something small, like completing an online skills workshop. On the other hand, it might be a much larger, semester-long project taking involving leading other students. You need to write a description, suggest learning outcomes and propose how many points you think the project is worth. You can get some help with learning outcomes from a Student Services House Leader or your coach. Past projects have involved making a video on culture shock for students and a survey of student attitudes.

Look under the Independent Project section of the BSA OnQ page to find a project guide and template that will walk you through the application process. Your coach will be able to help you complete your application and will confirm the points total.

BSA activities are organised into four skills areas:

Skills Areas

How do Points Work?

To qualify for the BSA, you need 50 points in total, with at least 10 points from each of the four skills areas. The activities page of OnQ provides details of which activities are eligible for BSA points and if so, how many. Points reflect the commitment and challenge involved in an activity. For example, a study skills workshop is worth 5 points with a further 5 points available on completion of an extension activity (all points coming from Academics skills area). Bigger commitments (such as committees) are eligible for up to 30 points and may award points in more than one skills area.

Sample Activity Points       1   2   3   4       Total Points
Learning Theory Project
(1hr a week, 2 semesters)
10 10 10 30
Study Skills Workshop 5 + 5 10
Independent Project –
5-minute culture shock video 
10 10 20

BSAPlusBSA + badge

A discretionary BSA+ badge will be given for activities (both organised and independent) demonstrating exceptional:

  • Initiative
  • Creativity
  • Independent thinking
  • Leadership

BSA + badges are given by activity leaders and by coaches for independent projects.

Step 3: Reflection

The final stage of the BSA is to complete a 1,000-word, structured personal reflection.

Your coach will check on the progress you have made towards your goals and make sure you have the required activity points. They will also be able to give feedback on what you might include in your reflection. The personal reflection gives you the opportunity to describe how participation in the BSA has contributed to your development of the BISC Graduate Attributes.

More information and support will be given in the Winter Term to help you complete your reflection.

The Principal’s Commendation

What is the Principal’s Commendation?

The Principal’s Commendation is awarded by the BSA Committee and recognises exceptional achievement and contribution to the BSA. It is awarded to the student(s) whose participation in the program most clearly exemplifies the values and goals of the BSA. A certificate, signed by the Principal, will be awarded at the end of term celebration and the names of winning students will be added to the BSA board in the castle.

What factors do the Committee look for?

In addition to completing all BSA requirements, the Committee takes into account the following factors when considering nominees for the Principal’s Commendation:

  • Starting the BSA in the Fall semester
  • Working on at least one goal over two semesters
  • Engaging in independent projects
  • Having at least one BISC + badge
  • Participating in BSA activities that benefit others
  • Making significant progress towards personal goals
  • Demonstrating insight through personal reflection in coaching and in the final reflection

How is the decision made?

Students are nominated by coaches and activity leaders and the recipients are selected by the BSA Committee.

When is the decision made?

The decision is made towards the end of the Winter term.

Questions? Contact Isabelle Brent This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bader College (Queen’s University, Canada) is committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment that is fair, positive, and supportive for all members of our community.
We strive to ensure all members’ views are valued and shared in a secure environment through a commitment to upholding equity*, diversity**, inclusion***, and advancing indigenous initiatives.
Bader College supports the fair treatment and opportunity for all by asserting the importance of non-discriminatory treatment either directly or indirectly on the ground of age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.   

*Equity: Substantive fairness for everyone thereby ensuring that members of equity-seeking groups are able to achieve full participation in the university (ader College). 

**Diversity: The representation of the population with respect to designated groups. 

***Inclusion: The climate and acceptance of differences that comes with diversity i.e. different ways of living and working. 

Land acknowledgement: Queen’s University, Canada is situated on Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Territory.

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