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OXFORD | Letter of recommendation

Information for Referees

Referees are requested to submit an online reference form, including a reference letter, to assist the university in evaluating the applicant’s academic record and abilities. This reference will help the admissions committee assess the applicant’s suitability for the intended course.

How to Submit Your Reference

Applicants should register their referees as early as possible in the application process. Once registered, referees will receive an email with the applicant’s details and a link to the online reference system. The email will also include the reference deadline.

Submitting a reference involves answering a few questions about the applicant and their academic record, uploading a reference letter as a PDF file, and submitting the form. Upon submission, a confirmation will appear on-screen, and an automated email will be sent to the registered address.

If the applicant applies to multiple courses, the reference process must be repeated for each application.

What to Include in the Reference Letter

The reference letter should focus on the applicant’s experience and skills relevant to the intended course. Specific examples of their qualities and achievements should be provided, but longer letters are not necessarily indicative of greater support.

The letter should cover the applicant’s overall suitability for the course, their experience and interests, interim grades from any in-progress courses, and any awards or extracurricular activities.

The letter should not include personal extenuating circumstances without the applicant’s explicit agreement or material irrelevant to the application, such as protected characteristics.

Professional References

Referees may not be able to comment on all the skills listed above, depending on their professional role. However, they should identify specific examples where the applicant has demonstrated relevant qualities and experience. If the referee cannot comment meaningfully on relevant areas, they should inform the applicant.

English Language Requirements

References must be submitted in English by the referee themselves. Translations by third parties are acceptable but must be reviewed and submitted by the referee.

Contact Information

Applicants are required to register referees using their institutional or professional email addresses. If an institutional or professional email address is not available, the referee should provide their full contact information in the reference letter and explain the reason for using an alternative email address.


Referees can choose to have their reference treated confidentially by selecting the appropriate option in the reference form. If submitting the reference letter directly by email or in hard copy, the referee should clearly indicate their desire for confidentiality at the top of the letter. Otherwise, the reference may be disclosed to the applicant in the event of a subject access request.

Automated Emails and Reminders

The notification email with access information for the online reference system and subsequent emails are sent immediately upon the applicant’s request. The applicant controls the timing and frequency of these automated emails. However, applicants are strongly advised to maintain direct contact with their referees throughout the process.

Deadlines for References

References must be received by the university’s application deadline for the application to be considered complete. The applicant is responsible for communicating the deadline accurately to their referees and ensuring that all referees are given sufficient notice. If a referee cannot meet the deadline, the applicant should arrange for alternative referees.

Referees who are unwilling or unable to act as a referee should inform the applicant directly.