Who should write your reference and how do you go about getting one? Find out more about references for conservatoire applications.
Relevant to
You'll need to provide details of two referees for each conservatoire you apply to – one to comment on your academic ability, and the other to comment on your practical ability.
  1. Ask your referees to send you their references, so you can enter them into your application, before submitting it to us. By using the referee response fields on the referees' page in Apply, your application is complete, and your reference is sent directly to your chosen conservatoires for consideration.
  2. You must not delay your application, or miss any deadlines waiting for your references to be sent to you. If there is a risk you might miss your deadline, submit your application first, and send your references separately. See below for information on how to submit your references by email or post.
  3. Once all sections are complete, you must pay any fees, before sending your application to us.

Who should write your academic reference?

Your academic referee should know you well enough, to write about you and your suitability for the course.
  • If you're at school or college, or have recently left, ask your principal, head teacher, teacher or tutor.
  • If you left school or college several years ago, ask your current or previous employer or, in the case of voluntary work, your supervisor.
  • If you have recently attended any training courses, ask your training provider.

It is not permitted for either you, your family, friends, partners or ex-partners to write your reference. If subsequently we find this to be the case, the application may be cancelled.

Who should write your practical reference?

Your practical referee should be someone, such as your music, dance, drama or art teacher/tutor, or head of department, who can comment on your:
  • ability, experience and potential in your specialist field
  • general academic ability in music, dance, drama, or musical theatre
  • practical skills
  • attitude to work and reliability
  • commitment to music, dance, drama, or musical theatre as a profession
  • ability to communicate
  • relevant experience

It is not permitted for either you, your family, friends, partners or ex-partners to write your reference. If subsequently we find this to be the case, the application may be cancelled.

Sending reference forms to your referee

If you are unable to submit your references with your application, you must send the reference forms to your referees to complete, and send the references separately to the conservatoires. There are two ways you can do this:
  1. Save the reference form as a Word document to email to your referee (but you may still need to give stamped addressed envelopes to your referee if they want to post your references to your chosen conservatoire(s)).
  2. Print it and post, or give it to your referee with a stamped addressed envelope for your chosen conservatoire(s).

You can download the reference forms here:

UCAS Conservatoires academic reference form (127 KB)

UCAS Conservatoires practical reference form (128 KB)

Prepare your references to send to your referees

You need an academic reference and a practical reference sent to each conservatoire for each of the courses you have applied for.

  1. Enter your name and Personal ID on each reference form and save or print a separate copy for each of your choices and for each type of referee. So for six choices, you will have six documents for each referee, i.e. 12 reference forms in total.
  2. Enter the following details onto an academic and practical reference form:
  • your main specialism/discipline
  • the course applied for
  • tick your choice of conservatoire
  1. Give, post, or email the forms to your referees and, if they intend to post your reference forms onto the conservatoires, send them with a stamped addressed envelope for each of your choices. If they intend to email your reference forms, please note that your referee must email the forms on to the conservatoire, once completed – they must not be sent to a conservatoire from your email address.
  2. Make sure each referee knows what they need to do.

Key dates

Make sure your referees know when you're going to send the application to us, so they can email or post your references to the conservatoires shortly afterwards.
  • If you're applying for music courses before the October deadline, aim to have your references with each conservatoire by the end of October. However, a small number of courses involve an additional shortlisting stage and require an earlier submission. Please check the conservatoires' websites for such requirements.
  • If applying for dance, drama, or musical theatre courses, aim to have your references with each conservatoire as soon as possible. It is recommended that this is no later than one month after the published deadline date for the course.
  • If you're applying after the October deadline, please send references to the conservatoires as soon as possible.

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