Writing a personal statement for a Masters course

computerUnless you are applying for Teaching or Medicine through UCAS this will be a completely different process for you.

There are some universities which use the UKPASS system but most require a direct application to the postgraduate admissions contact for the course you are applying to. (You will find this on the university website when you search for the course details.)

What does the application look like?

  • For some it’s an application form, where you will fill in details on your education & experience and then have to write a personal statement explaining why you should be considered for this course.
  • Some will ask specific questions about your reasons for applying.
  • Some will require a CV too.

Personal statements – what can go wrong?

  1. Poor structure & disorganised ideas.
  2. Lack of research.

Typically your structure would include the following unless you are given instructions to the contrary.  The order you present the information in is largely dictated by the story you want to tell, but this is a reasonably logical progression.

1    Why this university?

Be specific – don’t make generic statements such as “Because you are an internationally renowned university with an excellent academic reputation”.
If the university itself made a difference in your choice – what was this?

  • Have you studied there before and enjoy the environment?
  • Is it’s location and the opportunity to gain work experience locally a factor?
  • Has it got a strong reputation in this particular field of research?
  • Are there specific academic staff you want to do research or study with?
  • Perhaps it offers something else unique?

2    Why this subject?

  • Your motivation – When did you become interested in this subject and what have you learned about it?
  • What is it about the structure of the course, the choice of modules, the learning methods that appeals to you? Did you attend an open day or talk to lecturers?
  • Demonstrate subject knowledge, through relevant prior learning, projects, dissertations, case studies etc. It could also come through relevant work experience in this field.

3    Academic ability

  • Academic achievement – have you got what it takes to do this course? Grades in key relevant subjects.
  • Academic prizes
  • Does it match your learning style – can you demonstrate this? Will you have to do group projects can you demonstrate teamwork or leadership?
  • Can you demonstrate the dedication and resilience required to complete the course? Ability to use initiative, problem solve, manage workload, work to deadlines, work under pressure.
  • Other academic skills relevant to the course, computing skills, knowledge of relevant scientific techniques, analytical or research skills etc.

4    Personal skills & experience

You can talk about work experience, volunteering and extracurricular activities in more depth here, but make sure you are evidencing key knowledge or skills needed for this course and your future career options.

5    Your future?

What are your career aims? How will this course help you achieve them? Knowledge, skills, accreditation with professional bodies etc.

How long should it be?

  • Some Universities will give you a word length. Do not exceed it!
  • If there is no guidance I would say write no more than 2 pages of A4. 1 page may be a little brief but it depends what you have to say and how you say it.  Think of the poor admissions officer who has to read hundreds of these. Keep it concise and to the point.

Style of writing

To some extent this is a reflection of who you are but in most cases this is a persuasive argument backed up with evidence.  Flowery or emotive language is rarely used in the UK.

If you are applying to a course like journalism your written style may be judged as part of your application.

Make sure it is grammatically correct and spell checked.

International applications

Expectations may differ country to country so do your research, contact the admissions officer to ask if there is any advice, what are they looking for?  Do you write in English or the language of that country?

If you need help with your application – book an applications advice appointment

 

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