Document requirements explained

If you have made an application to the University of Birmingham for a postgraduate programme, there are documents that are required before we can make a decision.

Below is an explanation of the document types and advice on providing these documents to us. 

Main requirements explained

References

On your application, you will have been asked for contact details of two references. For some courses, you will need the references before a decision to be made eg. School of Education courses.

Please make sure you tell your references to expect contact from the University of Birmingham via email, requesting their reference. We recommend that the referee sends back the reference in a PDF format as it is preferred if:

  • The reference is on official headed paper with the organisation or university’s logo and address
  • It includes the date, your details and the details of the referee
  • A summary of how they know you and confirm your suitability for studying on the course you have applied for
  • It should be signed by the referee with their official contact details.

If both your referees send back references which are not on official headed paper, you may be asked to send in additional references.

If you already have a written reference(s) and want to upload it on behalf of your referee(s), make sure the reference is a scanned copy of the original and that it is on official headed paper.

Academic certificate and transcript(s) for all prior degrees

If you have graduated

You will have been asked to upload a scan of your original or certified copies of your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s) on the Postgraduate Application Portal.

If you have not done so already, you can go back into the portal to upload your documents. Otherwise your application cannot be considered.

Please be prepared to send in your original or certified copies of your documents if the Admissions team requests to verify them.

If you don’t have certified copies of your documents and would prefer not to send the original, you can get copies certified by either the institution where you studied; a notary; or the British Council (students outside of the UK).

If you are an EU or International student and submitted your application with a University of Birmingham Overseas Representative, they will be able to verify your documents and there will be no need to send in copies by post. 

 

If you are currently a student

You will have been asked to upload an interim transcript from your latest exams.

If you have not done so already, you can go back into the portal to upload your interim transcript. Otherwise your application cannot be considered.

Please be prepared to send in your original or certified copies of your degree certificate and final transcript upon graduation if the Admissions team requests to verify them.

If you don’t have certified copies of your documents and would prefer not to send the original, you can get copies certified by either the institution where you studied; a notary; or the British Council (students outside of the UK).

If you are an EU or international student and submitted your application with a University of Birmingham Overseas Representative, they will be able to verify your documents and there will be no need to send in copies by post. Please note, if you did not originally submit your application through an agent representative, you will not be able to ask an agent to help you verify and upload documents at this stage.

Proof of English Language skills

For the full list of suitable documents which you can use as your proof of English proficiency, you can visit our English language requirements page.

Make sure that your test results are no more than two years old from the start date of your course* at the University of Birmingham.

You can scan and upload a copy of your results to the Postgraduate application portal. You do not need to send in a copy of this to the University or bring it when you are verifying your documents with our representatives in your country as the University can verify the certificate using the reference code.

*If you are deferring your offer by one year, please make sure your test results will still be valid for when your course starts next year. 

Exemptions

For those who have recently graduated from a University in the UK or majority English speaking country (e.g USA, Australia, New Zealand or Canada) you may be exempt from taking English language test. Please note that if your degree was delivered in English but not at a recognised university in the UK or majority English speaking country, our Admissions Office will require you to demonstrate your level of English with IELTS/TOEFL/PTE or alternative qualifications. You may also want to check our country pages as some countries may have certain exemptions, such as those who graduate from the University of Malta.

You will still need to present evidence of your qualifications studied in English to meet our entry requirement. Our Admissions office will then review your application and if exempt you will not be required to provide evidence of English language proficiency. 

Postgraduate research (PhD) applicants

If you have been using English as your medium of education or work, your agreed supervisor can assess your English Language skills at interview or other meetings to apply for an English Proficiency wavier from the Admissions office. 

Research Proposal

If you have applied for a research based programme (MRes, MPhil, PhD, etc.) you will have been asked to submit a research proposal.

If you have not done so already, you can go back into the portal to upload your interim transcript.

You may be asked via email to redraft your proposal by request from the academic supervisor or to name an alternative supervisor if you have not done so already. Please do this as soon as you are able otherwise your application cannot be considered. 

Sample work

If you are required to submit a piece of example work— usually a short written piece (common for programmes such as Creative Writing or English Literature); music composition or performance for those looking to study music related programmes— you will be notified by the academic tutor before they can access and make a decision on your application.  

Please make sure you submit these as soon as possible and in the format requested by the academic tutor. 

Explanation of key words:

  • Certified – having your original documents copied and then officially recognised with an official institution’s stamp or watermark so you do not need to send off the original.
  • Verified – checked by the University or our representatives that the document is official and genuine.
  • Certificate – degree certificate stating your name and degree awarded from your previous university/universities.
  • Transcript – usually an additional document which comes with your certificate, detailing your grades achieved per module of your degree programme(s) and the overall grade.
  • Notary - A notary is usually a lawyer (though not necessarily so in the United States) or person with legal training who is licensed by the government to perform acts in legal affairs, in particular witnessing signatures on documents. The form that the notarial profession takes varies with local legal systems.
  • The British Council – has offices all over the world and support the educational and cultural exchange of students coming to the UK for university.
  • University of Birmingham Overseas Representative – The University has overseas representatives listed on the Overseas Offices webpage, who can offer advice and certify your documents as well as verifying your documents on site rather than sending to the UK.