GUIDANCE FOR STUDY ABROAD REFEREES ONLY
Referees should be able to comment in detail, and impartially, on an applicant’s recent work and his/her preparedness to undertake the proposed course of study. References are of vital importance as they help us to distinguish between very high-calibre applicants. References that do not offer a detailed appraisal of an applicant’s academic development and suitability for the proposed study, but are simply a general statement of support, may disadvantage even the strongest applicant. It is helpful to provide evidence of the applicant’s skills and, importantly, how these skills relate to the proposed study. Please do not make inappropriate comments such as personal remarks.
We rely, to a significant extent, upon the accuracy and completeness of your comments. Please comment under the following headings:
A: Intellectual qualities
- A realistic appraisal of the applicant’s abilities based on the quality of academic performance to date, both overall and within individual modules or courses. Please give examples to illustrate your comments.
- If the applicant is currently an undergraduate, please include details of his/her marks if you are permitted to do so. These should support the predicted grade that you have indicated. For joint degrees, include performance in both disciplines.
- Please assess the strengths and weaknesses of the applicant. Do you have any concerns about his/her ability to complete the course, suitability for the proposed study, or ability to progress on to further study or a research career? If so, how might these concerns be addressed? You may wish to highlight the applicant’s particular strengths, relevant to the proposed study. Please give evidence to support your comments.
- For professional referees, please draw upon your experience of the applicant’s work to give an appraisal of his/her professional performance to date. Please highlight his/her strengths in the area in which he/she plans to study and work, and note any weaknesses he/she may have. Please give examples to illustrate your comments.
B: Suitability for chosen course of study/programme of research
- Please assess the suitability of the course/programme, the applicant’s potential to complete the studies successfully, his/her motivation and commitment, and his/her relevant intellectual skills. You should state how the proposed course/programme relates to his/her experience to date, and to his/her future plans. You should comment within the context of his/her proposed course/programme, as we will be assessing his/her preparedness, not just his/her abilities.
Please describe how he/she has developed and improved during his/her undergraduate/postgraduate career. It would be useful if you could also compare his/her ability to other relevant groups or individuals of whom you have had experience.
- Please assess the applicant’s aptitude and preparedness for the proposed course/programme, and for continuing to doctoral study. Are there areas in which he/she will require additional training in order to complete the course/programme? (Highlighting any such areas will not necessarily disadvantage the applicant since training is expected to be part of postgraduate study.)
- Please comment on factors such as the applicant’s conceptual ability, problem-solving skills, capacity for independent thought, potential for innovation and organisational skills.
- Professional referees should state the type and range of duties that were performed, describe how the professional experience he/she has gained has complemented his/her academic studies, and explain how this may have prepared him/her for the proposed study and research at postgraduate level. Please comment on the applicant’s professional commitment, motivation and potential.
C: Powers of expression
- Please comment on the applicant’s ability to express himself/herself orally and in writing.
- Please refer to the applicant’s contribution to the life of the community of your institution/organisation.
General points of guidance
- References should state how long you have known the applicant, and in what capacity.
- We will not release references to applicants, so please feel free to speak freely and openly.
- Please use a typeface of 10pt or larger. There is a maximum allowance of one page for references – longer references may unfairly advantage an applicant and are likely to be disallowed. We require references to be printed on institutional (or, for professional referees, organisational) headed paper and hand-signed by the referee.