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Guidance on finding a referee 


When applying to a research experience programme, you will be asked to provide details of a referee in your application. Your referee will be asked to provide a reference to support your application to the programme. 

Q. Why do I need a reference?

As part of your application to the programme, we ask for additional information from someone who is able to comment on your academic performance and potential. This information helps us to better understand your suitability for the programme, and it will be considered alongside the other information that you provide us with in the application form and interview.   


The referee will be asked to answer questions or comment on the following areas: 


  • Your academic performance, academic potential and motivation 

  • Your potential for originality, creativity and independence of thought 

  • Your intellectual characteristics 

  • Your suitability for postgraduate study/research 

  • Your suitability for the programme 

Q. Who should I ask for a reference?

Your reference for our research experience programmes should be written by an academic from your undergraduate course, such as your personal tutor, dissertation supervisor, adviser of studies, module coordinator or lecturer. A referee should be someone you’re familiar with, who knows you and your work well. References should support your application, so choose a referee who can comment positively on your academic performance and your potential for further study.  


An academic reference is preferred for all applications and is required if you have finished your undergraduate studies within the last two years. If you left higher education more than two years ago and are unable to nominate an academic referee from your previous studies, you can nominate a professional referee who can testify to your abilities in a professional context. A professional referee might be, for example, your current or previous line manager, a senior colleague, such as a director, who knows your work well, or a project manager for a project on which you’ve worked. They will normally be someone who has had responsibility for your appraisal and your delivery of work. 


If you have any questions or do not have someone suitable who can provide a reference, please contact us at and we will advise you further.  

Q. How should I ask?

We strongly recommend speaking to your potential referee in advance to make sure that they are happy to act as your referee. If you do not hear from them after asking, do not be afraid to contact them again if it has been over a week or so.  


Referees must submit their references by the application deadline. If your referee has not provided a reference by this time, your application will be withdrawn. 


Once you have your referee’s permission to name them in your application, there are some essential pieces of information you should give them. These include: 


  • your full name 

  • details of the research experience programme you are interested in and which projects you are applying for (when applicable) 

  • your future academic plans   

  • anything you will submit as part of your application, for example your CV, personal statement, etc. 

  • how they should complete and submit the reference  

  • the application deadline. 


To support your referee to write your reference, we recommend giving them plenty of notice and information about the research experience programme.  

Q. What information do I have to provide about my referee?

You will ask to be provided contact details for your referee in the application. When doing this, please make sure to: 


  • use your referee’s official university or employer email address 

  • check that your referee’s contact details are up-to-date and correct, as the inclusion of wrong details can delay the application process.