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Postgraduate Guide to Academic References

Find out here how to provide references for postgraduate programmes through the Applicant Portal, and what we look for in a reference. 

What makes a good reference? 

If your referee is one of your tutors they should comment on your academic suitability for the course you are applying for, including your performance on your course, the marks you have achieved/might achieve, your motivation for study, your strengths and weaknesses, and your potential for study at postgraduate level. 

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. 

References must be submitted in English. 

Who should I nominate to be my referee? 

Ideally at least one of your referees needs to be an academic member of staff who has taught you on your current or most recent course of study and who can provide an informed view on your academic ability and suitability for the course you have applied for. 

If you have been out of education for over two years then you can supply a professional reference(s) from your current or most recent employer. Some programmes, like the MBA, require professional references. 

If you are unsure about the suitability of your referee please Ask Us. 

Please note that we don’t accept personal references, such as those from family and friends. 

How many references do i need and how do I provide them?  

You will normally need to provide two references through the Applicant Portal.  You can do this either by: 

  • Uploading a document(s) from your referee(s). 
  • Providing their contact details and we will contact them on your behalf.

If providing contact details for your referee(s) please make sure the email address, in particular, is correct as our portal will contact them directly via the email address you give us with a link to supply their reference.   

You should contact your referees before supplying their contact details to make sure they are able to write a reference for you and to let them know to expect an email from us. 

My referee didn’t receive the link/is having technical problems – what do I do now? 

Make sure that our email didn’t end up in their spam or junk folders.  If it didn’t, then you can ask them to contact us and we will help with any technical issues.