Back to main page

Can you please write a reference letter for me?

Many (!) students ask me every week whether I can write reference letters for them. However, I am really only able to provide you with a personal reference letter if I know you in person. Typically this is the case when:

I will do my best to write a supportive letter that highlights your personal strengths. I don't write reference letters just pointing out grades or exam results.

Conversely, if I don't know you in person I am afraid I can't write a personal support letter for you. Therefore, I can't provide a reference letter just because you have taken one of my classes - I teach several hundreds of students each year. Please don't send any preprepared reference letters for me to sign.

Who should I ask for an academic reference letter:

For a student in general there are three main ways to get references:

  1. A reference letter based on grades will be supplied by the course director of your course (not the module leader).
  2. A personal reference letter will be provided by your personal academic advisor. Academic advisors meet you regularly and they are informed about your academic progress.
  3. If you have written a thesis (BSc, MSc etc) or have worked in some other capacity (e.g. as teaching assistant) with an academic then this person will also be able to provide you with a reference letter.

The best reference letters will come from academics who are familiar with your academic work. Therefore, if you are an undergraduate (UG) student planning to continue to MSc and possibly PhD it is highly recommended to do a UG project and write a thesis. This will not only allow you to develop essential skills for scientific work but also connect you with an academic.