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 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.

Calculating average final marks for International students

We normally determine the final mark of an international degree by calculating the average of all the module marks, weighted by credit value. For module marks assigned as a range, we use the mid-point of the range. Note that the average we calculate may differ from the average shown on your transcript.

Official translations into English

If any of your certificates or transcripts have been issued in a language other than English, you should include with them official, authenticated English translations. Official translations of qualifications documents are also a requirement of the UK government's visa regulations. The translation should clearly state that it is an accurate translation of the original, and include all of the following pieces of information:

  • The translator or translation company's name and contact details
  • The translator or translation company's credentials or qualifications
  • The date of the translation
  • The translator's full name and signature, or the full name and signature of an authorised official from the translation company

The translation should be done by an official translator/translation service. We won't accept translations by agents unless the agency offers a recognised translation service and the translator can demonstrate appropriate credentials, for example NAATI, CATTI or NAETI. English language modules studied as part of the agent's degree course, for example TEM-4 or TEM-8, are not considered appropriate credentials.

Academic references

Reference type

  • Depending on the course you've applied for, we normally require one or two references in support of your application
  • References 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
  • We would normally expect references be dated no more than two years before the start date of the course you've applied for
  • If you've studied at more than one higher education institution, at least one of your references should be from your most recent institution

Reference content

Your referee(s) 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).

How to provide a reference

  • You will be able to send a request from the University of Sheffield to your referee(s) as part of the online application process. The request will be emailed automatically when you submit your application. You should normally use your referees' official university email addresses for references arranged in this way.
  • Alternatively, for most courses you can choose to upload references yourself to your online application. Uploaded references must be signed, dated and on official letterheaded paper.

Please be aware that we may contact your referee(s).

English language certificates (International applicants)

The certificate from the test provider/awarding body that confirms you have been awarded the qualification. 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

General guidance on how to write a research proposal has been developed by our 301 Academic Skills Centre:

How to write a research 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.

Examples of your work

Some courses may ask you to include samples of your written work, or a portfolio of artwork. Where this is the case, information will be included on the course webpages.

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.

Where the original documents are on paper, please upload high quality scanned colour copies or colour photographs. The uploads should show the full document, including all text, images and security features.

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.

Verifying your qualifications documents

We'll need to confirm the authenticity of the documents you supply during the application process.

We normally use the online verification services offered by many universities. If your previous university has an online verification service, please grant the University of Sheffield access to this.

If your university doesn't have an online verification service, you should upload to your application clear, colour photographs or scans of your original qualification documents (not copies or certified copies). These documents must:

  • Confirm that the qualification has been awarded
  • Show the date of the award
  • Show the final awarded grade

Please note that we can't accept digital certificates/transcripts if your university doesn’t have an online verification service.

If we want to offer you a place but we haven't been able to verify your qualifications, we'll make verifying your qualifications a condition of our offer.

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