How to write a personal statement for postgraduate course applications

A personal statement is one part of a suite of information that University staff use in the academic evaluation of an application for a Masters degree. It should be a short reflective essay that is focused and allows our admissions team to hear the applicant’s voice. It’s your chance to sell yourself and show the University that you are the right person for the course.

A good personal statement can be the difference between getting an offer from the University and being rejected.

What to include in your personal statement

Take plenty of time to plan your statement and think about what you want to say before you start writing your personal statement.  It should not be an autobiographical timeline of your life – it’s a statement of your reasons why you are applying for a specific course, your academic interests and your potential to successfully complete the course.

Why are you applying for this Masters degree?

What we're looking for is an honest and succinct narrative that tells us why you have chosen to apply specifically for this postgraduate course. We want to see some evidence that you have really thought about your selection and to get a sense that you are excited by what lies ahead.

If you're interested in a particular field, then tell us about it. If you’ve read something that’s stimulated your desire to study in a particular direction, let us know about that too. It doesn’t have to be something you necessarily agree with, just something which has stimulated you to study with us.

We look for a convincing statement where the course that you want to apply for feeds into your passions and interests and how you anticipate it will benefit your future career. If your chosen subject or field of interest has impacted in your life outside study, such as voluntary work or internships then this too, is something we want to hear about.

Tell us about you

It’s important that your personal statement reveals you. We can see your academic performance but what we want from your personal statement is an understanding of why this course would fit you.

Whilst we would expect good applicants to have reviewed our webpages prior to application, copying and pasting information from our website is not sufficient and will result in a delay to a decision on your application.

Your statement must be your own work and be about you. Please do not copy and paste information from our website or from someone else's personal statement.

Please bear in mind that if you are applying to study in the UK as an international student, your personal statement will be the document that will be used for your interview with the visa authorities, so you should be prepared to discuss the contents of your personal statement fluently.

Structure of your personal statement

  • Should be written as a reflective essay
  • No more than 500 words (no longer than one page of A4)
  • Follow a logical structure – capture the reader’s attention with your introduction, then give details of your experience and desire for studying the particular course. End by telling us why you are the right candidate for the course.
  • Break up the essay with headings e.g. Why this course, My experience, Career aspirations
  • Use clear language and keep your sentences short
  • Use correct grammar and spelling

Hints and tips

  • Don’t use the same personal statement for each course application. Be specific about why you are applying for that particular course.
  • Be enthusiastic and positive throughout the statement
  • Ask someone else to proofread your statement before submitting it

Graduate admissions

If you have any questions about postgraduate study please contact us.