UCAS Personal Statement and Examples
WHAT IS THE UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT?
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) Personal Statement is the main essay for your application to colleges and universities in Great Britain. UCAS gives a nice explanation here, but in short, this is your chance to stand out against the crowd and show your knowledge and enthusiasm for your chosen area of study.
You’ve got 4,000 characters and 47 line limit to show colleges what (ideally) gets you out of bed in the morning. How long is that, really? Use your “word count” tool in Google or Word docs to check as you go along, but 4,000 characters is roughly 500 words or one page.
HOW IS THE UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT DIFFERENT FROM THE US PERSONAL STATEMENT?
Think they’re the same? Think again. Here are some key differences between the UCAS and the US Personal Statement:
When you apply to UK schools, you’re applying to one particular degree program, which you’ll study for all, or almost all, your time at university. Your UCAS personal statement should focus less on cool/fun/quirky aspects of yourself and more on how you’ve prepared for your particular area of study.
The UCAS Personal Statement will be read by someone looking for proof that you are academically capable of studying that subject for your entire degree. In some cases, it might be an actual professor reading your essay.
You’ll only write one personal statement, which will be sent to all the universities you’re applying to, and it’s unlikely you’ll be sending any additional (supplemental) essays. Your essay needs to explain why you enjoy and are good at this subject, without reference to any particular university or type of university.
Any extracurricular activities that are NOT connected to the subject you’re applying for are mostly irrelevant, unless they illustrate relevant points about your study skills or attributes: for example, having a job outside of school shows time-management and people skills, or leading a sports team shows leadership and responsibility.
Your personal statement will mostly focus on what you’ve done at high school, in class, and often in preparation for external exams. 80-90% of the content will be academic in nature.
A QUICK STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO WRITING THE UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT
This may be obvious, but the first step to a great UCAS Personal Statement is to choose the subject you’re applying for. This choice will be consistent across the (up to) five course choices you have. Often, when students struggle with a UCAS personal statement, it’s because they are trying to make the statement work for a couple of different subjects. With a clear focus on one subject, the essay can do the job it is supposed to do. Keep in mind you’re limited to 47 lines or 4000 characters, so this has to be concise and make efficient use of words.
To work out what information to include, my favourite brainstorming activity is the ‘Courtroom Exercise’. Here’s how it works:
The Courtroom Exercise
Imagine you’re prosecuting a case in court, and the case is that should be admitted to a university to study the subject you’ve chosen. You have to present your case to the judge, in a 47 line or 4,000 character statement. The judge won’t accept platitudes or points made without evidence–she needs to see evidence. What examples will you present in your statement?
In a good statement, you’ll make an opening and a closing point.
To open your argument, can you sum up in one sentence why you wish to study this subject? Can you remember where your interest in that subject began? Do you have a story to tell that will engage the reader about your interest in that subject?
Next, you’ll present a number of pieces of evidence, laying out in detail why you’re a good match for this subject. What activities have you done that prove you can study this subject at university?
Most likely, you’ll start with a class you took, a project you worked on, an internship you had, or a relevant extra-curricular activity you enjoyed. For each activity you discuss, structure a paragraph on each using the ABC approach:
A: What is the Activity?
B: How did it Benefit you as a potential student for this degree course?
C: Link the benefit to the skills needed to be successful on this Course.
With three or four paragraphs like these, each of about 9 or 10 lines, and you should have the bulk of your statement done. Typically two of these will be about classes you have taken at school, and two about relevant activities outside of school.
In the last paragraph, you need to demonstrate wider skills that you have, which you can probably do from your extracurricular activities. How could you demonstrate your time management, your ability to collaborate, or your creativity? Briefly list a few extracurricular activities you’ve taken part in and identify the relevant skills that are transferable to university study.
Finally, close your argument in a way that doesn’t repeat what you’ve already shared. Case closed!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What if I’m not sure what I want to study? Should I still apply?
There are a number of broader programs available at UK universities (sometimes called Liberal Arts or Flexible Combined Honours). However, you should still showcase two or three academic areas of interest. If you are looking for a broader range of subjects to study and can’t choose one, then the UK might not be the best fit for you.
What if I haven’t done much, academically or via extracurriculars, to demonstrate that I’ll be able to complete the coursework for my degree? Should I still apply?
You certainly can, but you will need to be realistic about the strength of your application as a result. The most selective universities will want to see this evidence, but less selective ones will be more willing to account for your potential to grow in addition to what you’ve already achieved. You could also consider applying for a Foundation course or a ‘Year 0’ course, where you have an additional year pre-university to enable you to develop this range of evidence.
If I’m not accepted into a particular major, can I be accepted into a different major?
It’s important to understand that we are not talking about a ‘major,’ as what you are accepted into is one entire course of study. Some universities may make you an ‘alternative offer’ for a similar but perhaps less popular course (for example you applied for Business but instead they offer you a place for Business with a Language).At others, you can indicate post-application that you would like to be considered for related courses. However, it’s not going to be possible to switch between two completely unrelated academic areas.
What other information is included in my application? Will they see my extracurricular activities, for example? Is there an Additional Information section where I can include more context on what I’ve done in high school?
The application is very brief: the personal statement is where you put all the information. UCAS does not include an activities section or space for any other writing. The 47 lines is all you have. Some universities might accept information if there are particularly important extenuating circumstances that must be conveyed. This can be done via email, but typically they don’t want to see more than the UCAS statement and your school’s reference provides.
Now, let’s take a look at some of my favorite UCAS personal statement examples with some analysis for why I think these are great.
UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLE FOR CHEMISTRY
When I was ten, I saw a documentary on Chemistry that really fascinated me. Narrated by British theoretical physicist Jim Al-Khalili, it explained how the first elements were discovered and how Chemistry was born out of alchemy. I became fascinated with Chemistry and have remained so ever since. I love the subject because it has very theoretical components, for example quantum Chemistry, while also having huge practical applications.
In this introduction, the student shows where his interest in Chemistry comes from. Adding some additional academic detail (in this case, the name of the scientist) helps guide the reader into more specific information on why this subject is interesting to him.
This aspect of Chemistry is important to me. I have, for example, used machine learning to differentiate between approved and experimental drugs. On the first run, using drug molecules from the website Drug Bank, I calculated some molecular descriptors for them. I started with a simple logistic regression model and was shocked to find that it had apparently classified almost all molecules correctly. This result couldn’t be right; it took me nearly a month to find the error. I accidentally normalized the molecular-descriptor data individually, rather than as a combined data set, thereby encoding the label into the input. On a second run, after fixing the error, I used real machine learning libraries. Here I actually got some performance with my new algorithm, which I could compare to professional researchers’ papers. The highest accuracy I ever saw on my screen was 86 percent. The researchers’ result was 85 percent; thanks to more modern machine learning methods, I narrowly beat them.
I have also studied Mathematics and Physics at A Level and have been able to dive into areas beyond the A Level syllabus such as complex integration in math and the Schrödinger equation in Physics.
This paragraph lays out a clear case for this student’s aptitude for, and interest in, Chemistry. He explains in detail how he has explored his intended major, using academic terminology to show us he has studied the subject deeply. Knowing an admissions reader is looking for evidence that this student has a talent for Chemistry, this paragraph gives them the evidence they need to admit him.
Additionally, I have worked on an undergraduate computer science course on MIT Opencourseware, but found that the content followed fixed rules and did not require creativity. At the time I was interested in neural networks and listened to lectures by professor Geoffrey Hinton who serendipitously mentioned his students testing his techniques on ‘Kaggle Competitions’. I quickly got interested and decided to compete on this platform. Kaggle allowed me to measure my machine learning skills against competitors with PhDs or who are professional data scientists at large corporations. With this kind of competition naturally I did not win any prizes, but I worked with the same tools and saw how others gradually perfected a script, something which has helped my A Level studies immensely.
Introducing a new topic, the student again uses academic terminology to show how he has gone beyond the confines of his curriculum to explore the subject at a higher level. In this paragraph, he demonstrates that he has studied university-level Chemistry. Again, this helps the reader to see that this student is capable of studying a Chemistry degree.
I have been keen to engage in activities beyond the classroom. For example, I have taken part in a range of extracurricular activities, including ballroom dancing, public speaking, trumpet, spoken Mandarin, and tennis, achieving a LAMDA distinction at level four for my public speaking. I have also participated in Kaggle competitions, as I’m extremely interested in machine learning. For example, I have used neural networks to determine the causes of Amazon deforestation from satellite pictures in the ‘Planet: Understanding the Amazon from Space’ competition. I believe that having worked on projects spanning several weeks or even months has allowed me to build a stamina that will be extremely useful when studying at university.
This penultimate paragraph introduces the student’s extracurricular interests, summing them up in a sentence. Those activities that can demonsrate skills whcih are transferable to the study of Chemistry are given a bit more explanation. The student’s descriptions in each paragraph are very detailed, with lots of specific information about awards, classes and teachers.
What I hope to gain from an undergraduate (and perhaps post-graduate) education in Chemistry is to deepen my knowledge of the subject and potentially have the ability to successfully launch a startup after university. I’m particularly interested in areas such as computational Chemistry and cheminformatics. However, I’m open to studying other areas in Chemistry, as it is a subject that truly captivates me.
In the conclusion, the student touches on his future plans, using specific terminology which shows his knowledge of Chemistry. This also reveals that he aims to have a career in this field, which many admission readers find appealing as it demonstrates a level of commitment to the subject.
UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLE FOR VETERINARY MEDICINE
This next statement has to accomplish a number of tasks, given the subject the student is applying for. As a vocational degree, applicants for veterinary medicine are committing to a career as well as a subject to study, so they need to give information that demonstrates they understand the reality of a career in this area. It also needs to explain their motivation for this interest, which quite often is demonstrated through work experience (something which is often a condition for entry into these programs). Finally, as this is a highly-academic subject to study at university, the author should include a good level of academic teminology and experiences in the statement.
There is nothing more fascinating to me than experiencing animals in the wild, in their natural habitat where their behaviour is about the survival of their species. I was lucky enough to experience this when in Tanzania. While observing animals hunting, I became intrigued by their musculature and inspired to work alongside these animals to help them when they are sick, as a veterinarian.
In an efficient way, the applicant explains her motivation to become a vet, then squeezes in a bit of information about her experience with animals.
As a horse rider and owner for nearly ten years, I have sought opportunities to learn as much as I can about caring for the animal. I helped around the yard with grooming and exercise, bringing horses in and out from the fields, putting on rugs, and mucking out. I have also been working at a small animal vet clinic every other Saturday for over 2.5 years. There, my responsibilities include restocking and sterilising equipment, watching procedures, and helping in consultations. Exposure to different cases has expanded my knowledge of various aspects, such as assisting with an emergency caesarean procedure. Due to a lack of staff on a Saturday, I was put in charge of anaesthesia while the puppies were being revived. I took on this task without hesitation and recorded heart and respiration rate, capillary refill time, and gum colour every five minutes. Other placements following an equine vet, working on a polo farm, and volunteering at a swan sanctuary have also broadened my experience with different species and how each possesses various requirements. During pre-vet summer courses, I was also introduced to farm animals such as pigs, cows, sheep and chicken. I spend some time milking dairy cows and removing clustered dust from chicken feet, as well as tipping sheep in order to inspect their teats.
In this paragraph, she synthesizes personal experience with an academic understanding of vet medicine. She demonstrates that she is committed to animals (helping in the yard, regular Saturday work, assistance with procedures), that she has gained a variety of experiences, and that she understands some of the conditions (caesareans, clustered dust) that vets have to deal with. Note that she also briefly discusses ‘pre-vet summer courses,’ adding credibility to her level of experience.
I have focused on HL Biology and HL Chemistry for my IB Diploma. I was particularly excited to study cell biology and body systems because these subjects allowed me to comprehend how the body works and are applicable to animal body functions. Topics like DNA replication as well as cell transcription and translation have helped me form a fundamental understanding of genetics and protein synthesis, both important topics when looking into hereditary diseases in animals. Learning about chemical reactions made me consider the importance of pharmaceutical aspects of veterinary medicine, such as the production of effective medicine. Vaccines are essential and by learning about the chemical reactions, I f developed a more nuanced understanding about how they are made and work.
Now the statement turns to academic matters, linking her IB subjects to the university studies she aspires to. She draws out one particular example that makes a clear link between school and university-level study.
I have also written my Extended Essay discussing the consequences of breeding laws in the UK and South Australia in relation to the development of genetic abnormalities in pugs and German shepherds. This topic is important, as the growing brachycephalic aesthetic of pugs is causing them to suffer throughout their lifetime. Pedigree dogs, such as the German shepherd, have a very small gene pool and as a result, hereditary diseases can develop. This becomes an ethical discussion, because allowing German shepherds to suffer is not moral; however, as a breed, they aid the police and thus serve society.
The IB Extended Essay (like an A Level EPQ or an Capstone project), is a great topic to discuss in a personal statement, as these activities are designed to allow students to explore subjects in greater detail.
The first sentence here is a great example of what getting more specific looks like because it engages more directly with what the student is actually writing about in this particular paragraph then it extrapolates a more general point of advice from those specificities.
By choosing to write her Extended Essay on a topic of relevance to veterinary medicine, she has given herself the opportunity to show the varied aspects of veterinary science. This paragraph proves to the reader that this student is capable and motivated to study veterinary medicine.
I have learned that being a veterinarian requires diagnostic skills as well as excellent communication and leadership skills. I understand the importance and ethics of euthanasia decisions, and the sensitivity around discussing it withanimal owners. I have developed teamwork and leadership skills when playing varsity football and basketball for four years. My communication skills have expanded through being a Model U.N. and Global Issues Network member.
This small paragraph on her extracurricular activities links them clearly to her intended area of study, both in terms of related content and necessary skills. From this, the reader gains the impression that this student has a wide range of relevant interests.
When I attend university, I not only hope to become a veterinarian, but also a leader in the field. I would like to research different aspects of veterinary medicine, such as diseases. As a vet, I would like to help work towards the One Health goal; allowing the maintenance of public health security. This affects vets because we are the ones working closely with animals every day.
In the conclusion, she ties things together and looks ahead to her career. By introducing the concept of ‘One Health’, she also shows once again her knowledge of the field she is applying to.
UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLE FOR AERONAUTICAL ENGINEERING
Standing inside a wind tunnel is not something every 17 year old aspires to, but for me the opportunity to do so last year confirmed my long-held desire to become a mechanical engineer.
This introduction is efficient and provides a clear direction for the personal statement. Though it might seem that it should be more detailed, for a student applying to study a course that requires limited extended writing, being this matter-of-fact works fine.
I enjoy the challenge of using the laws of Physics, complemented with Mathematical backing, in the context of everyday life, which helps me to visualise and understand where different topics can be applied. I explored the field of aeronautics, specifically in my work experience with Emirates Aviation University. I explored how engineers apply basic concepts of air resistance and drag when I had the opportunity to experiment with the wind tunnel, which allowed me to identify how different wing shapes behave at diverse air pressures. My interest with robotics has led me to take up a year-long internship with MakersBuilders, where I had the chance to explore physics and maths on a different plane. During my internship I educated young teenagers on a more fundamental stage of building and programming, in particular when we worked on building a small robot and programmed the infra-red sensor in order to create self-sufficient movement. This exposure allowed me to improve my communication and interpersonal skills.
In this paragraph the student adds evidence to the initial assertion, that he enjoys seeing how Physics relates to everyday life. The descriptions of the work experiences he has had not only show his commitment to the subject, but also enable him to bring in some academic content to demonstrate his understanding of engineering and aeronautics.
I’m interested in the mechanics side of Maths such as circular motion and projectiles; even Pure Maths has allowed me to easily see patterns when working and solving problems in Computer Science. During my A Level Maths and Further Maths, I have particularly enjoyed working with partial fractions as they show how reverse methodology can be used to solve addition of fractions, which ranges from simple addition to complex kinematics. Pure Maths has also enabled me to better understand how 3D modelling works with the use of volumes of revolution, especially when I learned how to apply the calculations to basic objects like calculating the amount of water in a bottle or the volume of a pencil.
This paragraph brings in the academic content at school, which is important when applying for a subject such as engineering. This is because the admissions reader needs to be reassured that the student has covered the necessary foundational content to be able to cope with Year 1 of this course.
In my Drone Club I have been able to apply several methods of wing formation, such as the number of blades used during a UAS flight. Drones can be used for purposes such as in Air-sea Rescue or transporting food to low income countries. I have taken on the responsibility of leading and sharing my skills with others, particularly in the Drone Club where I gained the certification to fly drones. In coding club, I participated in the global Google Code competition related to complex, real-life coding, such as a program that allows phones to send commands to another device using Bluetooth. My Cambridge summer course on math and engineering included the origins of a few of the most important equations and ideologies from many mathematicians such as, E=mc2 from Einstein, I also got a head start at understanding matrices and their importance in kinematics. Last summer, I completed a course at UT Dallas on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The course was intuitive and allowed me to understand a different perspective of how robots and AI will replace humans to do complex and labour-intensive activities, customer service, driverless cars and technical support.
In this section, he demonstrates his commitment to the subject through a detailed list of extracurricular activities, all linked to engineering and aeronautics. The detail he gives about each one links to the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in these subjects at university.
I have represented Model UN as a delegate and enjoyed working with others to solve problems. For my Duke of Edinburgh Award, I partook in several activities such as trekking and playing the drums. I enjoy music and I have reached grade 3 for percussion. I have also participated in a range of charitable activities, which include assisting during Ramadan and undertaking fun-runs to raise money for cancer research.
As with the introduction, this is an efficient use of language, sharing a range of activities, each of which has taught him useful skills. The conclusion that follows is similarly efficient and to-the-point.
I believe that engineering is a discipline that will offer me a chance to make a tangible difference in the world, and I am certain I will enjoy the process of integrating technology with our everyday life.
UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLE FOR ECONOMICS AND SOCIAL POLICY
Applying for a joint honours course presents a particular challenge of making the case that you are interested in the first subject, the second subject and (often overlooked) the combination of the two. In this example, the applicant uses her own academic studies and personal experiences to make her case.
I usually spend my summer breaks in Uttar Pradesh, India working at my grandparents’ NGO which produces bio-fertilizers for the poor. While working, I speak to many of the villagers in the nearby villages like Barokhar and Dharampur and have found out about the various initiatives the Government has taken to improve the production of wheat and rice. I understand the hardships they undergo and speaking to them has shown me the importance of Social Policy and the role the government plays in improving the lives of people and inspired me to pursue my university studies in this field.
In the introduction, this applicant explains where her interlinking experiences come from: she has personal experiences that demonstrate how economics impacts the most vulnerable in society. In doing so, she shows the admissions reader that she has a deep interest in this combination and can move on to discussing each subject in turn.
My interest in these areas has been driven by the experiences I had at high school and beyond. I started attending Model United Nations in the 9th grade and have been to many conferences, discussing problems like the water crisis and a lack of sustainability in underdeveloped countries. These topics overlapped with my study of economics and exciting classroom discussions on what was going on how different events would impact economies, for instance how fluctuations in oil prices will affect standards of living. Studying Economics has expanded my knowledge about how countries are run and how macroeconomic policies shape the everyday experiences of individuals.
Unusually, this applicant does not go straight into her classroom experiences but instead uses one of her extracurricular activities (Model United Nations) in her first paragraph. For students applying for subjects that are not often taught at school (Social Policy in this example), this can be a good idea, as it allows you to bring in material that you have self-studied to explain why you are capable of studying each subject at university. Here, she uses MUN discussions to show she understands some topics in social policy that are impacting the world.
By taking up history as a subject in Grade 11 and 12, I have seen the challenges that people went through in the past, and how different ideas gained momentum in different parts of the world such as the growth of communism in Russia and China and how it spread to different countries during the Cold War. I learned about the different roles that governments played in times of hardships such as that which President Roosevelt’s New Deal played during the Great Depression. From this, I gained analytical skills by scrutinizing how different social, political and economic forces have moulded societies in the past.
In this paragraph, she then takes the nearest possible class to her interest in Social Policy and draws elements from it to add to her case for Social Policy. Taking some elements from her history classes enables her to add some content to this statement, before linking to the topic of economics.
To explore my interest in Economics, I interned at Emirates National Bank of Dubai, one of the largest banks in the Middle East, and also at IBM. At Emirates NBD, I undertook a research project on Cash Management methods in competitor banks and had to present my findings at the end of the internship. I also interned at IBM where I had to analyze market trends and fluctuations in market opportunity in countries in the Middle East and Africa. I had to find relations between GDP and market opportunity and had to analyze how market opportunity could change over the next 5 years with changing geo-political situations. I have also attended Harvard University’s Youth Lead the Change leadership conference where I was taught how to apply leadership skills to solve global problems such as gender inequality and poverty.
Economics is explored again through extracurriculars, with some detail added to the general statement about the activities undertaken on this work experience. Though the level of academics here is a little thin because this student’s high school did not offer any classes in Economics, she does as well as she can to bring in academic content.
I have partaken in many extra-curricular activities which have helped me develop the skills necessary for this course. Being a part of the Press Club at school gave me an opportunity to hone my talent for the written word and gave me a platform to talk about global issues. Volunteering at a local library taught me how to be organized. I developed research and analytical skills by undertaking various research projects at school such as the sector-wide contribution of the Indian economy to the GDP in the previous year. As a member of the Business and Economic Awareness Council at school, I was instrumental in organizing many economics-based events such as the Business Fair and Innovation Mela. Being part of various Face to Faith conferences has provided me with an opportunity to interact with students in Sierra Leone, India and Korea and understand global perspectives on issues like malaria and human trafficking.
The extracurricular activities are revisited here, with the first half of this paragraph showing how the applicant has some transferable skills from her activities that will help her with this course. She then revisits her interest in the course studies, before following up with a closing section that touches on her career goals:
The prospect of pursuing these two subjects is one that I eagerly anticipate and I look forward to meeting the challenge of university. In the future, I wish to become an economist and work at a think tank where I will be able to apply what I have learnt in studying such an exciting course.
UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLE FOR HISTORY OF ART & PHILOSOPHY
This applicant is also a joint-honours applicant, and again is applying for a subject that she has not been able to study at school. Thus, bringing in her own interest and knowledge of both subjects is crucial here.
At the age of four, I remember an argument with my mother: I wanted to wear a pink ballerina dress with heels, made for eight-year-olds, which despite my difficulty in staying upright I was determined to wear. My mother persistently engaged in debate with me about why it was not ok to wear this ensemble in winter. After two hours of patiently explaining to me and listening to my responses she convinced me that I should wear something different, the first time I remember listening to reason. It has always been a natural instinct for me to discuss everything, since in the course of my upbringing I was never given a simple yes or no answer. Thus, when I began studying philosophy, I understood fully my passion for argument and dialogue.
This is an unusual approach to start a UCAS Personal Statement, but it does serve to show how this student approaches the world and why this combination of subjects might work for her. Though it could perhaps be drawn out more explicitly, here she is combining an artistic issue (her clothes) with a philosophical concern (her debate with her mother) to lead the reader into the case she is making for admission into this program.
This was first sparked academically when I was introduced to religious ethics; having a fairly Christian background my view on religion was immature. I never thought too much of the subject as I believed it was just something my grandparents did. However, when opened up to the arguments about god and religion, I was inclined to argue every side. After research and discussion, I was able to form my own view on religion without having to pick a distinctive side to which theory I would support. This is what makes me want to study philosophy: it gives an individual personal revelation towards matters into which they may not have given too much thought to.
There is some good content here that discusses the applicant’s interest in philosophy and her own motivation for this subject, though there is a lack of academic content here.
Alongside this, taking IB Visual Arts HL has opened my artistic views through pushing me out of my comfort zone. Art being a very subjective course, I was forced to choose an opinion which only mattered to me, it had no analytical nor empirical rights or wrongs, it was just my taste in art. From studying the two subjects alongside each other, I found great value, acquiring a certain form of freedom in each individual with their dual focus on personalized opinion and taste in many areas, leading to self- improvement.
In this section, she uses her IB Visual Arts class to explore how her interest in philosophy bleeds into her appreciation of art. Again, we are still awaiting the academic content, but the reader will by now be convinced that the student has a deep level of motivation for this subject. When we consider how rare this combination is, with very few courses for this combination available, the approach to take slightly longer to establish can work.
For this reason, I find the work of Henry Moore fascinating. I am intrigued by his pieces, especially the essence of the ‘Reclining Nude’ model, as the empty holes inflicted on the abstract human body encouraged my enthusiasm for artistic interpretation. This has led me to contemplate the subtlety, complexity and merit of the role of an artist. Developing an art piece is just as complex and refined as writing a novel or developing a theory in Philosophy. For this reason, History of Art conjoins with Philosophy, as the philosophical approach towards an art piece is what adds context to the history as well as purpose behind it.
Finally, we’re given the academic content. Cleverly, the content links both the History of Art and Philosophy together though a discussion of the work of Henry Moore. Finding examples that conjoin the subjects that make up a joint-honours application is a great idea and works well here.
Studying Philosophy has allowed me to apply real life abstractions to my art, as well as to glean a deeper critical analysis of art in its various mediums. My IB Extended Essay examined the 1900s Fauve movement, which made a huge breakthrough in France and Hungary simultaneously. This was the first artistic movement which was truly daring and outgoing with its vivid colours and bold brush strokes. My interest expanded to learning about the Hungarian artists in this movement led by Henri Matisse. Bela Czobel was one of the few who travelled to France to study but returned to Hungary, more specifically Nagybanya, to bestow what he had learned.
Again in this paragraph, the author connects the subjects. Students who are able to undertake a research project in their high school studies (such as the IB Extended Essay here, or the A Level Extended Project or AP Capstone) can describe these in their UCAS personal statements, as this level of research in an area of academic study can enliven and add depth to the writing, as is the case here.
As an international student with a multicultural background, I believe I can adapt to challenging or unfamiliar surroundings with ease. I spent two summers working at a nursery in Hungary as a junior Assistant Teacher, where I demonstrated leadership and teamwork skills that I had previously developed through commitment to sports teams. I was a competitive swimmer for six years and have represented my school internationally as well as holding the school record for 100m backstroke. I was elected Deputy Head of my House, which further reflects my dedication, leadership, teamwork and diligence.
As in the previous examples, this statement gives a good overview of the applicant’s extracurricular activities, with a mention of skills that will be beneficial to her studies at university. She then concludes with a brief final sentence:
I hope to carry these skills with me into my university studies, allowing me to enrich my knowledge and combine my artistic and philosophical interests.
UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLE FOR LIBERAL ARTS
A good range of UK universities now offer courses called ‘Liberal Arts’ (or similar titles such as ‘Flexible Combined Honours’), which allows students to study a broader topic of study–perhaps combining three or four subjects–than is typically available in the UK system.
This presents a challenge in the personal statement, as within the 47 line / 4000 character limit, the applicant will have to show academic interest and knowledge in a range of subjects while also making the case to be admitted for this combined programme of study.
As a child I disliked reading; however, when I was 8, there was one particular book that caught my attention: The Little Prince. From that moment onwards, my love for literature was ignited and I had entered into a whirlwind of fictional worlds. While studying and analysing the classics from The Great Gatsby to Candide, this has exposed me to a variety of novels. My French bilingualism allowed me to study, in great depth, different texts in their original language. This sparked a new passion of mine for poetry, and introduced me to the works of Arthur Rimbaud, who has greatly influenced me. Through both reading and analysing poetry I was able to decipher its meaning. Liberal Arts gives me the opportunity to continue to study a range of texts and authors from different periods in history, as well as related aspects of culture, economy and society.
Here we have a slightly longer than usual opening paragraph, but given the nature of the course being applied for this works well. A personal story segueing from literature to modern languages to history and cultural studies shows that this student has a broad range of interests within the humanities and thus is well-suited to this course of study.
Liberal Arts is a clear choice for me. Coming from the IB International Baccalaureate Diploma programme I have studied a wide range of subjects which has provided me with a breadth of knowledge. In Theatre, I have adapted classics such as Othello by Shakespeare, and playing the role of moreover acting as Desdemona forced me to compartmentalise her complex emotions behind the early-modern English text. Studying History has taught me a number of skills; understanding the reasons behind changes in society, evaluating sources, and considering conflicting interpretations. From my interdisciplinary education I am able to critically analyse the world around me. Through studying Theory of Knowledge, I have developed high quality analysis using key questions and a critical mindset by questioning how and why we think and why. By going beyond the common use of reason, I have been able to deepen greaten my understanding and apply my ways of knowing in all subjects; for example in science I was creative in constructing my experiment (imagination) and used qualitative data (sense perception).
Students who are taking the IB Diploma, with its strictures to retain a broad curriculum, are well-suited to the UK’s Liberal Arts courses, as they have had practice seeing the links between subjects. In this paragraph, the applicant shows how she has done this, linking content from one subject to skills developed in another, and touching on the experience of IB Theory of Knowledge (an interdisciplinary class compulsory for all IB Diploma students) to show how she is able to see how different academic subjects overlap and share some common themes.
Languages have always played an important role in my life. I was immersed into a French nursery even though my parents are not French speakers. I have always cherished the ability to speak another language; it is something I have never taken for granted, and it is how I individualise myself. Being bilingual has allowed me to engage with a different culture. As a result, I am more open minded and have a global outlook. This has fuelled my desire to travel, learn new languages and experience new cultures. This course would provide me with the opportunity to fulfil these desires. Having written my Extended Essay in French on the use of manipulative language used by a particular character from the French classic Dangerous Liaisons I have had to apply my skills of close contextual reading and analysing to sculpt this essay. These skills are perfectly applicable to the critical thinking that is demanded for the course.
Within the humanities, this student has a particular background that makes her stand out, having become fluent in French while having no French background nor living in a French-speaking country. This is worth her exploring to develop her motivation for a broad course of study at university, which she does well here.
Studying the Liberal Arts will allow me to further my knowledge in a variety of fields whilst living independently and meeting people from different backgrounds. The flexible skills I would achieve from obtaining a liberal arts degree I believe would make me more desirable for future employment. I would thrive in this environment due to my self discipline and determination. During my school holidays I have undertaken working in a hotel as a chambermaid and this has made me appreciate the service sector in society and has taught me to work cohesively with others in an unfamiliar environment. I also took part in a creative writing course held at Keats House, where I learnt about romanticism. My commitment to extracurricular activities such as varsity football and basketball has shown me the importance of sportsmanship and camaraderie, while GIN (Global Issue Networking) has informed me of the values of community and the importance for charitable organisations.
The extracurricular paragraph here draws out a range of skills the student will apply to this course. Knowing that taking a broader range of subjects at a UK university requires excellent organizational skills, the student takes time to explain how she can meet these, perhaps going into slightly more detail than would be necessary for a single-honours application to spell out that she is capable of managing her time well. She then broadens this at the end by touching on some activities that have relevance for her studies.
My academic and personal preferences have always led me to the Liberal Arts; I feel as though the International Baccalaureate, my passion and self-discipline have prepared me for higher education. From the academics, extracurriculars and social aspects, I intend to embrace the entire experience of university.
In the final section, the candidate restates how she matches this course.
Overall, you can see how the key factor in a UCAS statement is the academic evidence, with students linking their engagement with a subject to the course of study that they are applying to. Using the courtroom exercise analogy, the judge here should be completely convinced that the case has been made, and will therefore issue an offer of admittance to that university.