Careers Service

Referees and references

Information on references including how many references you will have to provide, who you should ask, what information you need to provide and references for postgraduate study.

Providing references

How many references? 

Two references will normally be enough. For most of you this should be one academic reference, and one from an employer. It’s most common for an employer to take up references after a final interview or once a provisional job offer has been made. 

You only need to supply references when the employer asks you for them. You don’t usually have to include references in your CV, but you may be asked to put details of referees on an application form. 

You should provide full contact details for your referees:  

  • name 

  • job title 

  • email  

  • phone number

Who should I ask? 

Academic reference 

Your Personal Tutor (PT) will normally be the person who will write your academic reference, as it is part of their role. They have an overview of:  

  • your academic record 

  • your progress  

  • your (predicted) degree class

You can ask another academic for a reference, such as a course tutor or dissertation supervisor, if you feel they know you better and can comment on your personal as well as academic attributes. 

If your PT is not available and you can’t think of anyone else, staff in your school office should be able to help you find someone suitable.


Employer/professional reference 

Your employer reference should be written by someone who knows you well enough to write about you and to comment on your suitability for the role you are applying for.  

This may be: 

  • your line manager from a part-time job 

  • an employer you worked for during the summer  

  • an industry professional who knows your character and capabilities, such as a mentor, or even a client

You can choose referees best placed to comment on your suitability for a particular role but employers often specify that one of your referees must be your current employer. 

If you don’t have any recent work experience you could ask: 

  • the coordinator/supervisor of your voluntary work 

  • the manager or coach of your sports team 

  • the director of your drama group or similar 

  • an employer you had work experience with while at school, or a family friend 

Always make sure you ask permission to name someone as a referee. If you have an interview, let them know that they may be contacted and do remember to thank them. 


Postgraduate study 

References required for postgraduate courses vary. You may have to provide two academic references. These could be from your PT and a project or dissertation supervisor.  

Some professional courses may require that you have particular work experience, if so a suitable employer reference will also be required. 

The University provides a reference request template to assist referees with an understanding of what should be included in a postgraduate reference. 

The University's reference request template (University webpage)

What information should I give to my referees? 

You should provide your referee with enough information to write a detailed reference, including: 

  • a copy of your CV  

  • details of the job (or course/s) you’re applying for  

  • your motivation for pursuing the role

  • the qualifications, skills and experience you have that make you an ideal candidate etc

If you haven’t been in contact with your referee for some time, e.g. since graduating or moving jobs, you should also let them know what you’ve been doing during that period.