Postgraduate study


Academic references are required to support applications to postgraduate degree study.

You are responsible for providing references in support of your application. One satisfactory academic reference is required for postgraduate taught applications. Two references are required for postgraduate research applications. Additional references may be requested in some circumstances, for example in relation to work experience if relevant.

Reference format

References submitted by the applicant must be scanned, written on headed paper, signed and dated within one year of the start date for your degree.

We can also accept plain references sent directly to us from your referee's institution email address - we cannot accept plain paper references sent from personal email accounts. Please always give your referee's institution email address when submitting your application.

Choosing your referees

Appropriate people to provide a reference would include your undergraduate or Masters tutor, course organiser or programme director.

Academic references are normally required and recommended as part of a strong application. If you are unable to provide one, an alternative such as a professional or employment reference may be provided instead.

Providing your references

You can provide your references in one of the following ways:

When you apply online

This is the preferred option as this means your reference is submitted by your referee direct to your record.

When you complete your application form, add in your referee's email address. This must be an institution email address as your reference will be rejected if it is sent from a personal email address and is not on headed paper.

The online system will send your referee an email asking them to upload the reference direct to your account. This reference need not be signed or dated if we can see that this reference has been sent from an institution email account so do not use a personal email account such as googlemail or hotmail.

Uploading to your online account

You can upload a reference to your online account yourself.

You must make sure that this reference is on headed paper, signed by the referee and dated within one year of the start of your degree programme.

References that are uploaded this way that are written on plain paper will be rejected.

By email

Your referee can email their reference directly to us at the email address below in the event of technical difficulties.

Your referee should use an institution email account, the reference will be rejected if it comes from a personal email account.

Your referee should quote your student application number where possible.

By post

Wherever possible, scanned copies of documents should be uploaded to your application.

In the event that you are unable to scan a reference, this can be mailed to us at the address below - please ensure that you include your student application number with the reference.

College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Postgraduate Office

  • The University of Edinburgh

Contact details



The University Of Edinburgh
55-60 George Square

Post Code