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Graduate Admissions


Please check if your question has been answered below before contacting the Graduate Admissions Office with your enquiry. If your question has not been answered, use our Contact form to get in touch with us.

Q. Where can I find instructions for referees?

Instructions for academic referees can be found on our Academic References page and downloaded as a PDF file.

Instructions for personal referees can be found on our Gates Cambridge References page and downloaded as a PDF file.

Q. When will I receive an email requesting a reference?

When the applicant completes the online application form they will be asked to provide details of referees, including their referees' email addresses. A reference request can then be sent from the online application form to the referee. References are then submitted by the referee via our online Referee Portal, as described in our guidance for academic references, and the applicant will be notified when they have been submitted. The applicant is also able to send reminders to their referees via the online application form.

Please note that the Graduate Admissions Office are not able to accept references sent by email either from the applicant or directly from the referee.

Q. I have logged into Graduate References but can't see the application(s) I expected to. Why is this?

This might be because the application is ‘Inactive’. Please contact the applicant, who will have access to further information about the application.

Q. What kind of file can I upload?

You may only upload Portable Document Format (PDF) files (with the extension .pdf). These may be no more than 2 MB in size.

Q. I wish to provide a reference on paper. How can I do that?

Request that the applicant follow the instructions on our Academic References page  to provide you with:

  • an Academic Reference Instruction Form, with Part I filled in by the applicant including their name as used in the application and their email address; and if the application has been submitted, the application number.

Send this, along with your reference on headed notepaper with an original signature (we cannot accept electronic or scanned signatures), to the address given at the bottom of the form. Both items should be sent as a package, in a sealed envelope, with your name signed across the seal.

Q. Can I amend or retract my reference after submission?

You are not able to amend or retract your reference once it has been submitted. Please contact the Graduate Admissions Office if you wish to make changes after submission.

Q. I have submitted my reference but the applicant claims not to have received it. Why is this?

References can take up to 24 hours to appear on an applicant's account.

If the reference does not appear, please log back in to the Graduate References system and ensure that you have completed all confirmation steps. If you have not, the reference will still be listed.

Both you and the applicant will receive an email to confirm submission of the reference when all steps have been completed.

Q. Is my reference confidential?

The University will treat your reference securely and in confidence.  However, please be aware that, under the terms of data protection legislation, the applicant you are writing about would normally be granted access to your reference in either anonymised or identifiable form if they request it.  If there are compelling reasons for protecting your identity and/or the content of your reference, please let us know.  Any applicant who is refused access to their reference by the University may appeal this decision to the Information Commissioner’s Office or a court, and the University may be ordered to disclose it.

Q. How do you store the personal data I submit?

Your own personal information (name, contact details, etc.) will be stored with your reference against the applicant’s record and will be retained in line with our standard procedures for applicant data (see  For more information about how we handle personal data, please see