Is it a good idea to use a professional leadership reference for Oxford MPhil?

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lori.keet
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Hello all! I am an American in my senior year of university applying for an MPhil in Political Theory at the University of Oxford. I have a question about using a professional leadership for my Oxford application. I need three letters of recommendation and my plan is to ask two former professors (I have already secured their recommendations) as well as my student government advisor.

I am currently serving as President of my University's United Student Government, and my advisor and I have a very close relationship. I feel confident that she would write me a positive letter. However, my concern is that my advisor would primarily be able to attest to my leadership—rather than my academic—skills. I get the impression that Oxford is primarily concerned with academic performance and capability, and less interested in leadership.

I could give my advisor some talking points (e.g. mentioning my ability to maintain my GPA and my membership in honor societies) but I'm wondering if I would be better off asking another professor in lieu of my advisor. At the same time, I would like to highlight my leadership position as I worked very hard to get it and am taking on a lot of responsibility for the school at the moment!

Thanks for reading. I would appreciate any input you could give me!

Some additional information—

The website for the programme reads as follows: "Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration. Your application must be supported by academic references, ie each referee should be able to testify to your academic abilities, achievements and motivation. In most cases, the academics who have taught you or who have known your academic work during earlier university-level study will be best placed to testify to these capabilities. When that is not possible, a professional reference from a colleague who has worked with you in a research capacity or is otherwise able to comment on your academic capabilities is acceptable in place of a tutor’s reference."
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chazwomaq
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The guidance seems pretty clear to me - they want academic referees to comment on your academic abilities. So I would choose another professor. However, could you ask one of them to mention your presidency in a passing sentence or two? It's a positive thing that's worth a mention if not a whole reference.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by lori.keet)
Hello all! I am an American in my senior year of university applying for an MPhil in Political Theory at the University of Oxford. I have a question about using a professional leadership for my Oxford application. I need three letters of recommendation and my plan is to ask two former professors (I have already secured their recommendations) as well as my student government advisor.

I am currently serving as President of my University's United Student Government, and my advisor and I have a very close relationship. I feel confident that she would write me a positive letter. However, my concern is that my advisor would primarily be able to attest to my leadership—rather than my academic—skills. I get the impression that Oxford is primarily concerned with academic performance and capability, and less interested in leadership.

I could give my advisor some talking points (e.g. mentioning my ability to maintain my GPA and my membership in honor societies) but I'm wondering if I would be better off asking another professor in lieu of my advisor. At the same time, I would like to highlight my leadership position as I worked very hard to get it and am taking on a lot of responsibility for the school at the moment!

Thanks for reading. I would appreciate any input you could give me!

Some additional information—

The website for the programme reads as follows: "Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration. Your application must be supported by academic references, ie each referee should be able to testify to your academic abilities, achievements and motivation. In most cases, the academics who have taught you or who have known your academic work during earlier university-level study will be best placed to testify to these capabilities. When that is not possible, a professional reference from a colleague who has worked with you in a research capacity or is otherwise able to comment on your academic capabilities is acceptable in place of a tutor’s reference."
Oxford wants academic references. You only provide the alternative is you are a mature student who hasn't been in academia for some years and needs to provide a contemporary reference.
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lori.keet
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Hello all, thank you both for your input. I will plan to ask another professor instead. chazwomaq, I like your idea of suggesting that my recommenders mention my leadership role in passing.
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