How to submit references

Information for applicants and referees on how to submit references when applying for university.

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Information for applicants

Your referee should provide their comments on your academic abilities and personal qualities, in particular their view of your suitability for the programme. It's important that the referee knows you well enough to comment authoritatively on your ability to meet the demands of the programme for which you have applied, but note that a reference provided by a friend or relative is not acceptable.

Wherever possible, references should be provided by a member of academic staff at an institution where you have studied in the last 5 years. If you have not been in full-time education within the last 5 years then a reference from someone who has known you in a professional capacity (e.g. an employer) will suffice, though wherever possible this should also comment on your suitability for your proposed programme of study.

You should approach your referee and ask them to forward you a reference; this can then be uploaded at the point of application. This will often mean that your application can be considered more quickly.

If this is not possible or if your referee would prefer to forward the reference directly to us they can submit it directly themselves – please read the 'Information for referees' section, below, for details. Also, please note that some programmes will require a reference submitted directly by your referee before your application can be considered; please check individual programme pages for details.

Information for referees

You may wish to forward your reference to an applicant so they can upload it at the point of application. If you prefer not to do this you should ensure that the applicant has your current email address; they can then supply this at the point of application and we will contact you directly to request the reference. This can then be submitted quickly and easily via an online link.

There is no particular format or structure for the reference, but selectors find it helpful if the following information about the applicant is included (it is not necessary to duplicate information provided by an applicant unless you wish to comment on it):

  • Academic achievement and potential, including predicted results or performance
  • Suitability for programme(s)/subject(s) applied for
  • Factors that may have influenced or influence performance
  • Personal qualities (motivation, powers of analysis, communication skills, independence of thought)
  • Career aspirations
  • Any health or personal circumstances relevant to the application
  • Other interests and activities
  • Commitments that will prevent an applicant from attending an interview

In the case of applicants whose first language is not English, it is helpful to comment on the applicant’s ability in written and spoken English. Please clarify, where appropriate, the proportion of courses studied or being studied in which the medium of instruction is English.

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