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UCAS reference

Information for teachers and schools

The following advice will help ensure that you are able to support your students with their application, giving them the best possible chance of success.


Writing a reference


Academic performance

Your reference forms an important part of the student's UCAS application, alongside their achieved grades, predicted grades and personal statement. Please give realistic predictions for all qualifications that the student is taking. It is very helpful if these are given separately at the top of the reference. For the IB Diploma, please give the predicted total score (out of 45) and the individual Higher level subject scores.

The majority of applicants also include their AS grades, (or unit marks) and while this may not be compulsory, we find it extremely useful as we prefer students who have achieved excellent grades throughout their studies. Thus your comments on their AS (Year 12) performance in addition to their A2 (Year 13 performance) are extremely helpful to us.


It is also useful to have an idea of the student’s performance in the context of the overall levels of achievement at your school or college. Please also include your comments on the student’s capacity for study at university level. The following advice will help ensure that you are able to support your students with their application, giving them the best possible chance of success. hard work and attitude to study, and their suitability for the chosen programme, giving examples of their subject commitment. It is also helpful if you can give an estimation of the student’s ability to think for themselves.

Personal circumstances

If there are any personal or domestic circumstances which may affect or have previously affected the student’s performance, please tell us in your reference, or if these arise after the UCAS form has been submitted, please email the Undergraduate Admissions Office.

Gaps in study

If the student has had any gaps in their study, or has repeated a year of schooling, a brief explanation in your reference is appreciated. If there are circumstances or difficulties at your school or college which may have impacted on a student’s performance or limited the A level options they can take, please mention this in your reference. We appreciate your honesty and if you have any concerns about the student’s degree of suitability or level of preparation, please do not over-emphasise their positives.

Overseas students


In addition to the above, please also comment on your estimation of the student’s ability to live and study abroad. Also, if the student doesn't have GCSE or IGCSE qualifications, or they didn't complete compulsory education in their native country, we would appreciate it if you could ask them to forward a copy of their most recent school transcript, so that we can make an assessment of their academic profile and progress.

English language

If the student’s first language is not English it is essential that you comment on their English language ability and how well you believe they would cope with studying at degree level in the English language. Please also include a prediction for the relevant English language test, if one is being taken.

Students who have not yet achieved LSE's minimum English language requirements at the time of making their application will not be disadvantaged; however they will be unable to register at LSE would achieving the approved standard.

We aim to make all decisions by 31 March, which gives those students for whom we request an additional English language qualification adequate time to prepare for and take an approved English language test. Please check our current English language requirements.

Please also note that some qualifications (eg, IELTS, TOEFL or PTE) only have a limited period of validity. Unlike other universities who may use interviews to assess students' English language fluency, we base our requirements solely on recognised and approved qualifications.

Admissions criteria

We are continually aiming to improve the information we give prospective students and their teachers. Within each programme page you will find specific information about entry requirements and usual standard offers, including preferred subject combinations for that programme.

You will also find information about deferred entry and mature applicants in the how to apply section.

Submitting additional information

The School aims to make admissions decisions based solely on the information presented on the application for the vast majority of candidates. It is not our standard policy to request additional academic references unless the reference provided is not current (ie, has been written by someone who used to teach the applicant rather than someone who currently teaches them). If the applicant is no longer in education, the academic reference should be from one of their most recent teachers/lecturers.

Likewise we do not need to receive examples of academic work, testimonials or other supporting documents. 

Applications from post-qualified applicants

For those that have already completed their A level, IB or other acceptable school leaving qualification and are no longer in education they should outline what they have been doing since leaving school or college. Brief details of a gap year, travel, voluntary work, placements, employment or other experiences should be included in the personal statement. 

Applicants in full or part-time education, for example enrolled at another university or college, should remember to include the relevant dates in section 4 of the UCAS form (School, College and University Education) and state the courses or programmes already taken or currently being taken. They must also supply the Undergraduate Admissions Office with a copy of their most recent transcript as soon as possible sfter submitting their application to UCAS, remembering to quote their full name, personal ID number and programme code.Applicants who have already completed a first undergraduate degree should supply a copy of their final transcript, as above.

Please be aware that the majority of offers for undergraduate places are made to applicants who have not yet experienced university education; thus there is no guarantee that applicants who have already completed or who are nearing completion of a first undergraduate degree will be made an offer of a place on one of our undergraduate degree programmes.

LSE does offer a wide range of taught MSc programmes which may provide a suitable alternative. 

Change of programme

Any offer of admission that the School issues is only valid for the specific programme for which it is made.

For those that wish to be considered for a place on an alternative programme to the one originally applied for should note the following.

Applicants can only request a programme substitution if one of the following conditions apply:

  • the applicant has not yet received a decision from LSE (in which case it is a relatively straightforward substitution of one programme for another)
  • the applicant has received a decision (offer or rejection) on the programme originally applied to BUT hasn't used all five programme choices (in which case it is an additional programme choice)

Please note, however, that it is not possible for an application to be re-considered for a programme for which you the applicant has already been rejected. Neither is it possible to make a substitution if the applicant has already been rejected by LSE for their original programme choice and has used all five programme choices.

If the applicant satisfies the above criteria and is eligible for consideration for a place on a different 'new' programme, they must contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office outlining the reasons for the change. Providing the request is received before 15 January the application will be considered alongside all other on-time applicants to that programme.

If the request to change programme arrives after 15 January, the application will be classed as late. Due to the high volume of on-time applications we receive each year, it is extremely unlikely that a late application will be considered for any programme.

Once a substitution has been made, applicants cannot revert to their original choice; thus if the Admissions Tutor for the new on-time programme choice decides not to offer you a place, or we do not look at any late applications, the applicant cannot then be re-considered for their original programme choice at LSE.

Changing programme after registering at LSE is not recommended, and is only possible in exceptional circumstances. A formal procedure must be followed, as part of which the request for a change of programme must be given approval by the programme tutor. The majority of degree programmes at LSE are over-subscribed every year, so departments simply do not have the capacity to accept new students at the start of the year.

If a request to change programme is not approved, the student will be expected to complete the degree programme that they registered for.