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UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)

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Recommendation Letters

Guidance for requesting recommendation letters from Dr Philippa Hetherington.

I'm always happy and eager to write letters of recommendation for my students, to support their future study, research and employment plans. Please follow the guidelines below if you would like a letter of recommendation; not doing so might make it difficult for me to provide the letter: 

  1. The best letters of recommendation are specific, detailed and informative. These take time to write, and the more time I have, the better I can make your letter. Please request the letter at least one month in advance of the time when you need it.
  2. It is important for you to include an exact deadline for when the letter is due in your initial email. Many Masters and PhD applications have rolling deadlines; in this case, decide the date when you are aiming to have the application in and provide me with this date when you request the letter. The lack of a due date makes it almost impossible to plan letters (or set calendar reminders in advance of the due date). 
  3. I write academic recommendation letters for postgraduate study, internships, and graduate jobs. Please email in advance and check before you list my name as a referee. 
  4. When you send the initial recommendation request, please include:
    1. Details on the academic degree program, internship, or job you are applying for. Please include links if possible. 
    2. Your current CV and your most up to date academic transcript. 
    3. If you have already graduated from UCL, please also provide me with details on the assessment you wrote for me; Moodle archives this information as soon as the academic year is over, so I'll need your help to locate your assessment in my records. The same applies if you wrote a BA or MA dissertation under my supervision.
    4. Having all of this information at my fingertips allows me to make your letter detailed and specific, which is turn makes it a more effective letter for you. 
  5. As soon as you have a draft research statement/cover letter/application letter, please send that to me as well. Don't put off asking me for the letter because you haven't written the cover letter yet (remember I need the recommendation request at least one month in advance). But as soon as you do have a workable draft of the application, send it along, as it will help me tailor your letter even further. 
  6. If it is a few days before the due date and my letter is not in yet, feel free to (politely) send a brief email to remind me. I won't be offended - I will appreciate the reminder. 
  7. If I've already written for you, and you decide to apply for more programmes in that academic year, please give me one week notice that you will need further letters, with details on what you are applying to. 
  8. If I've already written for you, and you want a new letter from me in subsequent academic years, please give me two weeks notice to update your letter. Please also include any new information that you think may be relevant, including an updated CV, and information on what you have been doing since I last wrote for you. 
  9. Please let me know how you went at the end of the application cycle! I'll be crossing my fingers for your success.