5.7 Writing references for students

Students will often seek references from a variety of sources: academic advisers (AAs), course lecturers, class teachers and departmental tutors (DTs). Most jobs require at least two, if not three, references. Reference writing does not stop when a student leaves LSE. Several will continue to request references from LSE staff for years post-departure. While staff are not legally required to provide references, the School has traditionally encouraged staff to be supportive of requests. However, reference writers can expect students to give them advance warning, and students are encouraged to make their CVs available via student information available in LSE for You. Much of the information that is useful for reference writing can also be accessed from LSE for You - class reports, termly AA comments, student grades, etc.

Reference writing is covered by the Data Protection Act, and all reference writers are strongly advised to read LSE Careers' Staff guide to writing references in Careers information for LSE Staff at lse.ac.uk/careersService/aboutUs.

AAs are not required to provide students who request a reference with a copy, but can request to see the reference from the potential employer to whom they are applying. AAs should give references only when the student concerned has given his or her consent or when the person making the request has provided proof that the student has given consent (ie, a signed form). This applies only to students who are still at LSE, not those who have completed their studies and moved elsewhere. Where an employer simply requires proof of student attendance/qualifications, such requests will be handled by the Registry Team in the Student Services Centre. Forward the request to: registry@lse.ac.uk|

There is some debate within the School as to whether part-time class teachers should be asked to act as reference writers. This would clearly help AAs and DTs. However, note that this is not a normal part of their contract. While it is likely that the School would support a part-time teacher should they write an inappropriate reference, they (and indeed any reference writer) have personal liability. The current advice is therefore that normally full-time members of School staff should sign off references, although part-time teachers may be requested to provide some of the detailed information. It is considered good practice for the teacher to write confidentially to the convenor or AA with their comments and for the full-time staff member to use these teacher comments as the basis for the reference. Some departments in the School have started using reference repository systems.


Students' performance on LSE100 is recorded on LSE for You and can be referred to in students' references. The LSE100 teaching team and course office can assist with any queries or in providing supporting information.