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Writing a UCAS reference in support of a student applying to Bath

Guidance for teachers or advisers writing an academic reference in support of a student applying to study at Bath

How we use the academic reference

We treat our admissions decisions extremely thoroughly at Bath and consider all aspects of each UCAS application in detail, and reviewing the academic reference is an important part of this holistic process. Each application is read in detail by one of our Admissions Selectors, who each specialise in a set of specific undergraduate courses.

With the exception of our Pharmacy and Social Work degrees, we make admissions decisions for most applicants based on their UCAS application rather than through an interview. The academic reference therefore provides important context to help us assess your student's suitability for degree-level study.

What to include

First paragraph

It is helpful if you can write a short introductory paragraph that may include information such as:

  • a URL to your school or college website
  • general contextual information about your school or college performance in recent years
  • information about staffing, especially if there has been disruption to a relevant subject area
  • details of the typical pattern of qualifications taken by your students e.g. 3 A levels and an EPQ
  • details of any subjects that are not available to your students

Academic information

To help us assess the academic performance of your student please include details of:

  • prior attainment, predictions, and details of any gaps in study
  • reason for chosen subjects or qualifications
  • a summary of performance in each subject
  • notable performance in recent tests/exams
  • how performance is matched against peers
  • comments on any project qualifications
  • aptitude for study at a higher level
  • academic skills and qualities

General information

It is also helpful if you can tell us about:

  • the student's general motivation, attendance, contribution, and attitude
  • notable experiences that don’t fit in the personal statement
  • the impact of any disability or learning need
  • any relevant details of the student’s career goals

School closures and educational disruption during the Coronavirus outbreak

Given the global nature of the Coronavirus update, we are aware that your student will have experienced significant disruption to their studies and home life. Therefore, although you will not need to include information relating to any general disruption, should the school or their studies have been specifically disrupted a small amount of information may be included in the reference.

Mitigating circumstances

Please include information about any individual or specific circumstances which may have affected your student’s academic performance. We publish our approach to mitigating circumstances and we would encourage you to carefully read through the guidance on this webpage. If you feel it is relevant, additionally arrange for your student to complete and return a mitigating circumstances form.

Information to avoid

  • Focus on skills irrelevant for your students chosen course
  • Incorrect qualifications being listed
  • Repeated material for lots of students
  • Information about the wrong student
  • Mismatching description and predicted grades

Further useful information about applying to Bath can be found via our Applying for Undergraduate study in 2021 webpage


If you have any questions, please contact us.