Supporting documents

When you apply for postgraduate study, you should include the supporting documents relevant for your application. Typically, we'll require the following documents, but please consult department webpages for information about any specific or additional requirements they may have.

Proof of your previous degree(s)

This would usually be in the form of an academic transcript or certificate. If these documents aren't written in English, please include an official translation. If you haven't yet graduated, please upload your most recent transcript, showing your results to date.

If you're studying qualifications from an institution outside the UK, please also include documents indicating the marking scheme used. If you're able to submit these at the point of application, this will help us to correctly formulate any offer we make.

Academic references

The University of Sheffield requires two references to support your application. These should be supplied by academic staff at university-level institutions where you've previously studied. If you've been out of education for the last two years, you can send one academic reference plus one from your current employer if you wish.

In their references, your referees should provide their personal opinion of your ability and suitability to undertake postgraduate study, in particular your previous academic achievements (especially in comparison to those of your peers), and any distinct strengths and weaknesses (for example motivation, commitment, independence, ability to work under sustained pressure). If your first language isn't English, your referees should also include their opinion of your proficiency in written and spoken English.

For most courses you can upload your references directly to your online application. Alternatively you may be required to ask your referees to upload your references themselves via our Referee Portal. Please be aware that we may contact your referees via the details you include in your application.

There's no official reference form, but please make sure your name and the title of the course you've applied for (and your applicant and choice numbers if you have them) are included on any documents that we're sent.

English language certificates (EU and International applicants)

This will usually be your IELTS certificate. For more information about acceptable English language qualifications, please see our English language requirements webpage.

A supporting statement (including a research proposal where relevant)

You should supply a statement of at least 300 words giving your reasons for applying and any other information you want to include in support of your application. Among the issues you may wish to cover are how your previous education and experience relates to the course, and how the course fits into your long-term academic or career plans.

For postgraduate research applicants, the statement should also include details of the area of research you want to pursue. For subject areas such as science, engineering and medicine, where the programme of research may link into an ongoing research project, include a brief outline of the area(s) of interest along with the name of a preferred supervisor(s), if you know them. Applicants for research within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the Faculty of Social Sciences are normally required to provide an outline research proposal. Except where indicated otherwise on departmental webpages, the proposal should be about 500–1000 words in length and should incorporate the following information:

  • The title of your proposed thesis
  • The main aims of your research
  • How your research will relate to current thinking on the subject
  • The methods of research and a plan and timetable of work
  • The resources you will require

Guidance on writing a proposal is available on our research webpages:

Writing a proposal

Curriculum vitae (CV)/resume

You may also wish to supply a curriculum vitae (CV) or resume. This is particularly useful if you have professional experience that is relevant to the area you want to study.

Supplying your supporting documents

You can attach supporting documents to your online application, either when you apply or by logging back into the form using your email address and password. You can log in to your application at any time and add additional documents, even after it has been submitted.

If you have any problems attaching documents to your online application, please contact us:


If your application is successful, you may need to show us the original paper copies of your qualifications documents when you come to register at the University.

What if my documents aren't ready?

If you haven't yet finished a course, or have simply not scanned your documents, you can tell us via your online application that you want to provide your documents later.

You can also tell us that you don't intend to send a supporting document for a specific category, although it's unlikely a decision can be made on your application without all of the supporting documentation.

Uploading documents at a later date

You can upload documents after you've submitted your application simply by logging back in to your online application.

Back to applying for a taught postgraduate course

Back to applying for a research degree