How do I supply references?

It is your responsibility to nominate suitable referees who will be willing to provide a reference in support of your application, and to ensure that we receive a reference from each of the referees you nominate in your online application. For the majority of applicants this means two references from academic staff at your previous institution who know your work well, and who, preferably, can comment on subjects or skills relevant to the programme(s) you are applying for. Check individual programme pages and our rules and exceptions for further information.

Your application will not be considered until we have received suitable references. All references must be translated into English.

Please be aware that if you are reinstating your application from one year to the next, you must use the second option below if additional references are needed, as you will not be applying through the online application system again.

NOTICE: Please be aware of an issue that has come to our attention regarding email junk/spam filters. Some email software is filtering LSE emails to the spam/junk or ‘Deleted Items/Bin’ folder so please make sure to check there for important information regarding your application. If you do find any of our emails in any of these folders, please make sure to add the domain @lse.ac.uk to your ‘Safe Senders’ or ‘Never Block’ list. Emails will be sent to you automatically from our database system once you have begun your online application and as your application progresses through each step in the process (application created; application submitted; application downloaded for processing). We will then send you a further email each time there is an update to the status of your application, including any requests for further information and the programme selectors’ decision on your application. It is essential that you ensure you can successfully receive our emails as soon as you begin your application.

Request references online (new applications)

You are strongly encouraged to contact your prospective referees before nominating them in your online application to confirm that they are happy to provide a reference and will do so quickly, and so that they know to look out for our reference request email (see the template message below, which may be helpful).   

When you complete your online application, you will be required to nominate two referees by providing their contact details (name and email address). You should enter each referee’s official institutional (academic or professional/company) email address (e.g. ending .edu/.ac.uk/.org) rather than their webmail address (e.g. Gmail/Hotmail/163).

Once you have completed the References section of your online application, your referees will automatically receive a reference request email from us asking them to submit their reference via our online referee portal. This is a secure and confidential service for referees and helps speed up the decision-making process. Your referees will be asked to complete a brief questionnaire before uploading a written letter of reference, which will be added to your application.

You will be able to return to the References section of your online application even after you have submitted your application in order to track the progress of your reference requests and, if necessary, to resend our reference request email to your referees or to make changes to your referee nominations.

If your application is successful and if either of your references was originally submitted from a webmail address instead of an official institutional email address, we may require your referee to send us a further copy of their reference either by email using their official institutional email address, or if necessary by post, signed and printed on official letterhead/security paper.

Tracking the progress of your reference requests:

You can view the status of each of your reference requests by going back to the References section of your online application form. You can do this even after you have submitted your application. Below is a guide to the reference statuses you may see:

Status: Complete

Meaning: Your referee has submitted their reference via our online system. Alternatively, we have received this reference directly by email/post and have uploaded it to your application on your referee’s behalf. As soon as a reference is marked as ‘complete’, an email is automatically sent to both you and your referee to confirm this.

Action for you: It is not possible to make any changes to a reference request once the reference has been submitted.

Status: Request sent to referee

Meaning: A reference request email has been sent to your referee, but your referee has not yet clicked on the link contained in that email in order to submit their reference via our online system.

Action for you: You can send the reference request email to your referee again by clicking on the ‘Actions’ button and selecting ‘Resend invitation’. You may also wish to contact your referee directly to remind them to submit their reference.

Status: In progress

Meaning: Your referee has clicked on the link contained in our reference request email and has begun the online reference submission process, however they have not yet completed the process and clicked ‘Submit’.

Action for you: You may wish to contact your referee directly to remind them to complete the online reference submission process. You may remind them that, if they have encountered any technical difficulties with the online system, guidance is contained in our reference request email. Your referee may also submit a technical support helpdesk form to request further assistance.

Status: Deleted

Meaning: You have withdrawn this reference request. The referee you previously nominated will no longer be able to submit their reference using the online system.

Action for you: You can re-nominate a referee you previously deleted, as long as you did not nominate an alternative referee when you deleted them. You can have only two active reference requests at any one time.

Status: Request declined by referee

Meaning: Your referee has notified us that they are not able to provide a reference in support of your application.

Action for you: You must nominate an alternative referee on the References page. You should ensure that your alternative referee is willing and able to provide a reference in support of your application.

Removing/adding referees:

If your nominated referee has not yet submitted their reference, you can delete this reference request them by going back to the References section of your online application and clicking on the ‘Actions’ button. You will then need to nominate a new referee. You will also have the option of re-nominating the deleted referee. It is possible to make these amendments straight after you have submitted your online application.

Please note that you may have only two active reference requests at any one time, so to add a new referee you must first delete an existing referee. Once we have received references from both of your nominated referees, you will not be able to make any further changes to the References section of your online application – it will not be possible to use this section to nominate further referees.

If you receive notification that one of your referees has declined to supply a reference, you will need to go back to the References section of your online application in order to nominate a new referee. You should ensure that your alternative referee is willing and able to provide a reference in support of your application.

Further guidance and troubleshooting:

My referee says they have submitted their reference, but you have not confirmed receipt. What can I do?

If your referee tells you that they have submitted their reference, but this reference is not marked as ‘Complete’ in your online application, you should ask your referee how their reference was submitted. If it was sent by email or post, it will be subject to our standard processing times. Any references sent to us by email/post will be uploaded to your application on your referee’s behalf and both you and your referee will receive an email once this has been done. While your referee is waiting for us to receive and process their emailed/posted reference, they may proceed to also submit their reference via the online system. It is preferable, faster, and easier if your referees submit their references using our online system.

My referee says they have not received an email from you requesting a reference. What can I do?

First, please ask your referee to check their junk/spam email folder. If you have successfully nominated this referee in the References section of your online application, a reference request email will have been automatically sent to the referee email addresses you entered. You can send the reference request email to your referee again by clicking on the ‘Actions’ button and selecting ‘Resend invitation’.

If your referee is unable to locate our reference request email, you may delete the existing reference request and then nominate them again, this time entering a different email address that belongs to your referee. You can do this by going back to the References section and using the ‘Actions’ button. Because you will not be able to re-enter your referee’s official institutional email address, you may now enter their personal webmail address instead, however please remember that this means we may request a further, official copy of the reference if your application is successful.

If you have followed the above guidance and your nominated referee remains unable to locate our reference request email, you may further assistance by submitting the technical support helpdesk form.

Request references to be submitted by email

It is preferable, faster, and easier if your referees submit their references using our online system after being nominated in your online application, however there are certain circumstances (see below) in which you may ask your referee to send us their reference by email. In this case, you may ask your referee to send us a reference by email to graduate.references@lse.ac.uk. Your referee should send their reference from their official academic or professional email address.

Your referee should send us both a full, written letter of reference as well as a completed copy of the relevant reference request form. These forms include a copy of the questionnaire your referee would be asked to complete via our online system as well as further guidance about what to include in their letter of reference:

You may request that your referee submit their reference by email if:

  • you are reinstating your application from one year to the next and you wish to provide a more up-to-date reference
  • we have asked you to supply an additional reference after your application has been processed              
  • you have sent supplied the wrong type of reference by mistake and now wish to provide the correct reference              
  • your referee has experienced technical problems with the online referee portal and has been instructed to send their reference by email

Copy and paste this text into an email to your referee to submit a quick request:         

Dear [referee name],

I am applying for [name(s) of your chosen programme(s) here] at the London School of Economics because [it is also useful to briefly mention why you are applying for this/these programme(s)]. I would be grateful if you would allow me to nominate you as one of my referees.

If you agree, please see the information below for further instructions on how to submit a reference on my behalf. The LSE operates a rolling admissions policy, and my application will only be considered when all requested items, including references, have been submitted.

<<If you are nominating your referee in your online application:>>

You will receive an automated reference request email from LSE. This email will contain a link to LSE’s online referee portal, where you can submit your reference directly to LSE. You will be asked to complete a brief questionnaire and to then upload a written letter of reference.

<<If you are asking your referee to send their reference by email:>>

Please download the [academic reference request form/professional reference request form  (delete as appropriate)] and return a completed copy, together with your written letter of reference, by email to graduate.references@lse.ac.uk, quoting my name and applicant ID number [provide your ID number if you know it]. If possible, please send this email from your official [academic/professional (delete as appropriate)] email account to avoid having to submit a further, official copy if I receive an offer of admission.

Please let me know when you have submitted your reference and thank you so much in advance for your help and support: I appreciate it very much.