When applying for jobs, courses, and other opportunities, you will likely be asked to provide the names and contact details of people who can provide you with a reference. A reference is a recommendation where the referee vouches for your qualifications, skills, and suitability for the opportunity that you are applying for. Academic members of staff in the School of English regularly receive such reference requests and consider it part of their role to complete these for students. However, please note the following points:

If you wish to ask a member of staff to act on your behalf as a referee, you MUST contact them in writing at least two weeks in advance of the reference deadline. This is partly to comply with data protection policy, as academic members of staff will be unable to write you a reference unless you obtain their WRITTEN permission beforehand (e.g. by email) to act as a referee. For each reference, you must also give your referee your written consent to disclose data about you. This is particularly important if you wish your referee to mention any periods of suspension or ill health.

It is expected that you should go to your Personal Tutor or main PhD Supervisor for a reference in the first instance. Your Personal Tutor/Supervisor can comment on overall academic performance and provide general information. For UG and PGT students, for more subject-specific applications, you may additionally request that a particular academic member of staff provides you with a reference, but should note that staff are not obliged to provide a reference for students who are not one of their Tutees/PhD students and, at very busy times of year, it may not be possible for them to do so.

If you plan to make a number of applications, you MUST gain permission to name a particular member of staff for each one: you should detail each opportunity that you are applying for (though you may request a reference for more than one opportunity at a time), and should not assume consent in the future because it has been granted at some point in the past. It is suggested that you offer some explanation of why you are making the application that you are, mentioning aspects of your experience at University that it might be relevant for your referee to highlight in their reference. You should also let your referee have an up-to-date copy of your CV for use when writing their reference for you.

If you are a UG or PGT student and intend to apply for a postgraduate programme of study, please be advised that it is far better to submit one well-written application, tailored to the institution that is the best fit for your interests, than to apply for several diverse programmes at once. If you do plan to make a number of applications, please also be advised that it is unlikely staff will be able to write multiple individual references, each of which is tailored to a specific programme.

In academic references, staff are usually asked to comment not only on a student’s academic performance (e.g. marks awarded, quality of written work) but their overall professionalism; this includes such qualities as punctuality, personal organisation, and reliability. You are therefore advised to do all that you can in your interaction with all staff in the School, throughout your time studying here, to ensure that staff can comment favourably on these aspects. Please also note that, if staff do not have evidence of particular qualifications or skills relevant to the application being made, they will not comment on them in their reference.

If you are required to complete an online form as part of your application, which will then be sent on to your referee for them to complete their part, you MUST complete all relevant personal information first. Your referee will not do this for you. 

Back to top