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Information for referees (MRes/MPhil/PhD)

Usually the reference would be given to the candidate in a sealed envelope order for it to be submitted alongside the application form. It is also possible for references to be sent directly to the Financial Support Office, provided the name of the candidate is clearly marked on the correspondence. 

References should be in hard copy format with an original signature, or sent from the referee's official email address to financial-support@lse.ac.uk 

It is important that the referee has detailed knowledge of the candidate.

Reference content

For new PhD candidates, the referee should be able to comment on the candidate's research proposal and how well equipped the candidate is to undertake the proposed research. For current LSE MPhil/PhD students, the referee should comment on the quality and progress of the research, including where possible an estimated completion date.

Examples of bad references include:

  • those which are illegible or too short to be of any real value
  • those which concentrate on describing the research project, rather than focusing on the applicant
  • those which are written primarily in terms of the applicant's value to the research project instead of testifying to his/her research strengths
  • UK references which, in the case of an applicant from less familiar overseas institutions, fail to comment on the applicant's standard of current or previous degree or on the institution itself
  • those which contain understatement - if a candidate is an excellent prospect, this should be stated in no uncertain terms

Click here| (Word) for some examples of bad references

Click here| (Word) for some examples of very good references