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Postgraduate

Tips for writing a personal statement for your master’s

personal statement
Source: Frederick J. Brown/AFP

If you’re planning to do your masters in the UK, you might be required to write a personal statement, depending on the university. A personal statement isn’t something that documents a personal account of your life, but an opportunity to articulate why you would like to study a particular course or subject.

You might have written a statement before as an undergraduate, but it shouldn’t be used as a template. At this point, you’re expected to have progressed academically, and admission officers will want to see evidence of this.

Your personal statement tells universities why you’re a suitable choice and an opportunity for you to impress admissions officers. Here are some general tips to remember when writing a master’s personal statement when applying for a UK university:

What should you include?

  • Your academic and professional aspirations
  • What sparked your interest in the subject you’re enrolling for
  • Relevant work experience that’s related to the course or subject
  • Evidence of your interest and expertise
  • What attracted you to the university
  • Other relevant academic interests and passions which display positive character
  • Any weaknesses or gaps explained with a positive spin

If you’re an international student, you should mention why you are interested in studying in the UK, your English language skills (including any courses or programmes you’ve completed), and why your goals will be best met in the UK rather than in your home country.

How should it be written?

There is no definite format to follow, as your personal statement should be personal and unique. It can be helpful to read sample statements online to get a better understanding of relevant content, structuring and formalities.

Write in an enthusiastic, concise, and natural style without being too complex. Try to stand out but be extra mindful with humour, quotes, or anything unusual. Remember that your personal statement will be read by an academic, and sometimes, a leader in the field.

An opening paragraph is the most important part to catch the attention of the admissions officer, ensuring they read through to the end. The piece is relatively short which means it is essential to avoid sentences that sound pretty but do not serve a real purpose.

A majority of postgraduate applications are submitted online directly to the university. If so, present your personal statement in a standard font such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman, text size 11 or 12.

If your application will be submitted through UKPASS (UCAS’s postgraduate application service), the font style will not matter as it will be automatically formatted.

How long should your personal statement be?

The length of a personal statement varies. Certain postgraduate programmes may require a 1,000 word personal statement, some might require 500. This will be clearly specified, depending on the university.

Whatever the word count may be, try your best to not go over the limit. Admissions officers have thousands of statements to go through, and a clearly written, concise personal statement is likely to be the one that stands out.

What are the common errors of a personal statement?

Common errors include the statement being too long or too short, it could lack important information, or it could have a confusing structure.

It is crucial that the information you include is accurate and easy to fact-check. Never exaggerate your personal or educational achievements as officers will question most aspects you include and pay close attention to your answers.

Applications made through UCAS or UKPASS may use sophisticated software to detect plagiarism. If your personal statement is detected to have copied content from the internet or previous statements, it will immediately be rejected. Keep your personal statement personal.