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Guidance for referees


Photograph by Jim Linwood

Referees are kindly requested to complete the reference form and comment on the candidate's academic ability, general suitability for the proposed programme of study and any other information they consider to be relevant to the candidate's application

Candidates are required to apply online for the great majority of Oxford's graduate courses, and it is mandatory for these applicants to register their referees' institutional or professional e-mail addresses in order for them to use the online reference system. Once an applicant has registered you, you will receive a short automated e-mail providing you with the applicant's details, a link to the online reference system and login details (i.e. username and password) to allow you to login to the system.

Submitting a reference will involve the following steps:

  1. Log in to the reference system using the link, username and password supplied to you.
  2. Select the applicant whose reference you plan to submit
  3. Answer a short series of questions regarding the applicant and supply your personal details
  4. Upload your reference
  5. Preview your reference to check it, sign it by typing your name, then submit

References should be uploaded on institutional or professional letter-headed paper. In exceptional cases where this is not possible - for example, if you have retired - please be sure to include full information regarding your contact details and your current and/or previous relevant position in your reference.

Please note that all references must be received by the relevant application deadline. It is the candidate's responsibility to ensure that all referees are given good notice of the deadline they intend to apply for, and to arrange alternative referees if any of their referees cannot meet the deadline. Applicants are requested to supply this information to their referees via the online system or separately.

The reference supplied will be treated as confidential, subject to the provisions of the UK Data Protection Act of 1998. If the candidate asks to see the reference, we may need to provide a copy.

The Graduate Admissions office would like to thank referees for their valuable assistance in our graduate admissions process.

Problems and queries

If you are expecting to provide a reference for an applicant and do not receive a registration e-mail or alternative instructions, please check any 'Junk' or 'Spam' filters or folders in your e-mail account as automated e-mails are sometimes diverted to these, depending on the filters in place on your e-mail account. If you still cannot find your registration e-mail, please contact the applicant, who may need to check the e-mail address they have supplied for you and/or resend the registration mail. 

If you have any other questions or problems regarding the reference process, please do contact the Graduate Admissions office via phone on +44 (0) 1865 270059 or e-mail at graduate.admissions@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Paper-format references

You only need to provide your reference in one format; when you supply an online reference, you do not need to supply a second copy in paper format.

Details of the paper reference procedure, which may be employed where applicants have an exceptional need to make use of the paper application form, are available via our Application Guide.