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Academic References

Academic references are crucial to your application, and you will need to think very carefully about which individual is best placed to provide one for you. Other useful guidance includes:

  • You will need to ensure, in good time, that your referees are willing and able to write a reference (letter of recommendation) for you. If you provide a valid email address in the online application form, we will contact them directly on your behalf.

It is your responsibility to make sure references are submitted, and please be aware that some academic departments will not consider an application for a research degree until this has been completed.

  • You should nominate referees who can provide an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for your chosen programme of study. The University will accept professional references if you have been out of higher education for over two years. Please note that personal references, such as those from family and friends, are not acceptable.

Think carefully about which individual you choose. Consider someone who has worked with you on a more personal level, and therefore may be able to give a more detailed picture of your abilities.

  • References must be submitted in English, unless otherwise permitted by the department.

Again, references not submitted in English might delay your application significantly, and could result in you missing crucial funding deadlines. It is your responsibility to ensure your referee is aware of this.

  • If submitted via paper, the reference should be on professional or institutional letter-headed paper. If this is not possible - for example, where a referee has retired - the reference should still include the referee's contact details and current (or relevant previous) position.
  • You should ask your referees to comment on your academic ability and general suitability for the proposed programme of study, and to provide any other information they consider to be relevant to your application. If they have knowledge of your recent study, it would be helpful if they could indicate the standard attained.

For research degrees, a good tip is to ask the referee to comment specifically on your ability in the area detailed in your proposal, as well as your capacity to undertake independent research.