U of Nott CS & IT COL Research Lab

Last Update: 13 November 2019

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Advice on Requesting Academic References

I would consider providing an academic reference only if I am in a good position to comment on your academic status and/or performance. For example, this can be in these cases where I am or was your:

  • Personal academic tutor
  • Teacher in a module/course
  • Supervisor of a group project
  • Supervisor of an individual project

    However, I will be able to provide an informative academic reference only if I know well your academic performance. Furthermore, you can expect a supportive academic reference only if I have witnessed strong academic performance from you. This can be in the form of high marks in the top ranking of a class, excellent execution/management of a project, initiative and diligence in tutorials, etc. In addition, I can only comment on the academic aspects in which I know you well.

    For example, if I am your personal tutor but had no much interactions with you during your studies, I will able to only state basic information like the course you are taking, the predicted overall degree class, etc. Similarly, if I am supervising your individual project, it will be not possible for me to provide a supportive academic reference before I have a sense of your performance. Hence, if you are applying for PGT studies too early, perhaps I will not be in the position to provide the reference you wish. Therefore, it might be better to ask for the reference after some part of the project execution has been formally assessed (e.g. the interim report). If you are taking a module I teach then my reference will be based on the marks you obtained and the way your participated in the module. If I supervised your group project, a good reference will be possible only if I have seen you performing strongly as part of the team effort.

    It is usually not possible for me to provide reference letters during the term times because of the heavy workload. Hence, I would normally write the reference letters once the semester has finished or for example during the easter or summer breaks. Please do not assume that I will be able to provide a large number of reference letters for you or that I will be able to write the reference at short notice.

    Finally, it is nowadays common that you only provide contact details of your references and they are contacted directly by the admission office, potential employer, recruiting agency, etc. It is not common practice to write the reference and give it to you directly (although in some cases this happens). In any case, it is of course essential that you ask permission before providing anyone's contact details to provide a reference. Hope this brief guidance helps but please come to meet me face to face for a brief chat if you want me to be your academic reference.