Documents Checklist: What You Need to Study in the UK

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Here at ApplicationUK, we know just how confusing and stressful it is making sure that you've all go all the right documents together for your UK university application. That's why we've put together this handy checklist of everything you will need when making your postgraduate application. Each document will be explained further in details, but first, get your pen and paper ready to tick off each item with us, one by one.


At a glance:

         Official degree certificate OR study confirmation document


         Personal Statement

         Reference x2

Only if applicable:

         Proof of English Language proficiency


         Passport (can be submitted later)


1. Official degree certificate OR study confirmation document

An official degree certificate is issued upon graduation to confirm completion of your degree programme and academic achievement. Some institutions may issue a separate certificate of graduation/conference – both documents need to be presented together. You will need these documents to prove your academic achievements fulfil the necessary conditions of your postgraduate offer to study later.

Degree certificate:


Graduation certificate:


If you have not received your degree and/or graduation certificate, you may submit a study confirmation letter or certificate. This is issued by your institution to prove you are a current student on the path to completing your degree programme. 

Confirmation certificate:


2. Transcript

A transcript is an official summary of your academic performance and progress from your current or former institution giving a breakdown of your marks or grades. Your transcript must show your overall GPA results. If you have not received your final results, your most up-to-date transcript is acceptable.


3. Personal Statement

The personal statement is an important part of your university application. It's your chance to describe your ambitions, skills, and experience. Before you start drafting a personal statement, make sure you pay attention to the the length - the word limit varies between universities, between 450-700 words. The following provides a guideline to what should be included in your personal statement:

- Why do you wish to study the course? – Describe your ambitions/career goals and what interests you about the subject and potential future career prospects. Keep in mind the course and university you are applying to.

- What makes you a suitable candidate? – Here you want to explain any relevant skills, experience or achievements gained from education, work or other activities that will help the admissions to understand more about yourself.

For applicants to Business and Finance and Science and Engineering, follow the links for specific advice. We also have more information and guidance on how to write your personal statement.

4. References

Here is something you do not need to write yourself - references are written by people familiar with you academically or professionally. They are usually about your characteristics as a student from a teacher's or supervisor's point of view. Postgraduate course applicants are required to provide TWO references, one of which must be from an academic source i.e. lecturer/personal tutor at from most recent institution. The other reference could be from your work experience; however, you are only allowed to submit ONE work-related reference. A referee CANNOT be a relative or friend in order to demonstrate your academic and professional merit.

References can be in the form of a reference letter OR contact details of your referee. Check your university's requirements accordingly as some will choose to contact your referee. If your reference letter is more than a year old, we advise you to obtain a more recent reference to maintain relevance. In your letter, make sure the relationship between you and your referee is clearly stated and checks the following conditions:

- Printed on letter headed paper

- Full name and job title of the referee.

- An official work or organisation email of the referee is required. (For example:; A personal email account such as Gmail, Hotmail is not acceptable).

- Contact telephone number of the referee (usually the office number).

- Ensure that the reference is signed and dated.

For more details and guidance on what constitutes an acceptable reference letter here.

Only if applicable:

5. Proof of English language proficiency

Most international applicants require a proof of English language proficiency. The Secure English Language Test (SELT) assesses English Language ability and is taken under specific secure conditions. A commonly acceptable form of these tests for postgraduate applicants is the IELTS and TOEFL certification. Ensure you meet the minimum required standard set by your course provider to apply.

Nationals of some countries have a selective language requirement while some may be exempted from this requirement. For example, applicants from Hong Kong must supply IELTS certificate as proof of proficiency, even if they went to international school. Malaysian applicants who hold the Cambridge English Language syllabus CIE 1119 certificate do not require further proof of proficiency. Applicants from USA, Canada, and Australia do not require any proof. Check with your course provider the possible exemptions for your country of origin.

6. CV

A CV is a quick introduction to you, and lists your achievements, work experience, skills, and interests. This is usually only if you have been in full-time employment. However, some universities like Imperial College and University College London (UCL) require CVs for all applicants. For guidance on writing your CV, click here.

6. Passport

A copy of your passport, and occasionally your first entry status, is often used as proof of identity. These documents can be submitted later and upon request of the university. Ensure your passport is valid and the photo as well as printed details is clear in copies.

7. Portfolio/Research Proposal

Certain courses require a portfolio to assess your skill within the subject area. Commonly, Art & Design, Architecture, and Creative Writing require a design portfolio. It is simply a compilation of your choice pieces of work previously attempted or completed. The guidelines for a portfolio vary from university to university; please check with your course provider for the specific requirements.

Also, for research applicants, a research proposal outlining your academic interests or simply a piece of written work in the relevant subject must accompany your application. This is mainly to demonstrate your motivation into a particular research topic you wish to pursue in your postgraduate studies.


Please ensure any documents in languages other than English are paired with a translated copy, officially stamped by the issuing body. Any letters must contain a letterhead, signature, contact details of signatory, and be dated accordingly to be considered official documentation.



If you are still waiting for an English translation of your documents, or simply not yet finished your current course, please contact one of our team members at ApplicationUK. We will be able to talk you through your options of suitable alternative documents, and what to do next.

Bear in mind that requirements may be more specific for certain universities; these are only some of the rough standard guidelines. Please do check with your preferred university before. In the meantime, you can contact Team AppUK on if you have any queries or questions, or want to discuss your application documents in further detail.

ApplicationUK's easy-to-use online application portal provides a simple solution to postgraduate application stress. With its smart digital self-assessment tool, personalised application plan, and application tracking system, you can be rest assured that your application will go through smoothly. Our experienced counsellors are also here to provide expert advice, reassurance, and continuous support.


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