Personal statements

Why is your personal statement important?

The personal statement is a vital part of your UCAS application, designed to show admissions tutors that you are suitable for your chosen course. Not all applicants will be asked to attend an interview so this may be your first and only opportunity to really sell yourself to the admissions tutor and the University.

Key information

  • Although you can apply for up to five courses through UCAS, you can only write one personal statement. 
  • Your personal statement can be up to 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text (including spaces and blank lines), whichever comes first. You do not have to use all of the allocated space. 
  • You do not have to write your statement all at once. You can save and preview it as you go along – but do beware that the UCAS website has a 35 minute inactivity timeout. 
  • When you save your statement, you will be told how many characters are still available or if you have used too many. 
  • Make sure you check the deadline for when your UCAS application should be submitted by.

Top tips

  • Ensure your statement is well written with correct grammar and spelling. 
  • Create a clear structure to your work to enable the reader to easily follow your argument. 
  • Explain why you want to dedicate yourself to the study of your chosen subject. Tutors want to know if you would be a valuable addition to their classroom.
  • Demonstrate a genuine interest and passion for the subject and show how you have pursued your interest outside the school/college syllabus. 
  • Use specific examples from your own personal experiences to illustrate your skills. You may be asked about your examples if you are interviewed.

Things to avoid

  • Plagiarism. UCAS screen all personal statements through a similarity detection system. Universities will be alerted if plagiarism is suspected and have the right to reject your application. 
  • Don’t refer to particular universities or courses by name as each institution you are applying to will receive the same copy of your statement. 
  • You shouldn’t define the subject. Instead, show what you understand and find interesting about it. 
  • Rather than submitting a single block of text, ensure your work is well laid out and easy to read. 

Suggestions from our admissions tutors 

"Where a student is ‘borderline’ in terms of predicted grades or past academic performance the personal statement can make a difference between an offer and a rejection. The personal statement is also crucial during confirmation and clearing. If I have five places for ten students with similar grades the personal statement will be used to decide who gets an offer."
- Dr Patrick White, (Sociology) 

"There are cases where I am surprised to find that students make no reference to the subject of the course for which they are applying, or seem to misunderstand the nature of the course. In such instances, a personal statement can have an effect."
- Dr Guy Barefoot, Film Studies 

"Don't just tell us that you find a subject interesting: pick an example (a scene from a novel, perhaps, or a production of a play you've seen) and write a bit about how it works, and what interests you about it. Some of the best personal statements I've read have been quite straightforward in their language, but show genuine commitment towards reading as a worthwhile, stimulating and intellectually challenging activity."
- Dr Mary Ann Lund, English 

"What makes a good personal statement? Enthusiasm for the subject to be studied and demonstration of engagement with some aspect of that subject. Also, it should be well-written."
- Mr Nick Everett, American Studies 

"Evidence is the key. If a student can provide evidence this makes their statement very much stronger. For example, things like volunteering work in schools, relevant work experience, perhaps science or astronomy clubs, or work with the Institute of Physics would all be impressive evidence of passion and motivation for Physics. We’re also interested in interests and achievements outside of the curriculum - so things like Duke of Edinburgh awards, membership of sports clubs, or involvement in plays, bands etc. tend to read well."
- Dr Mervyn Roy, Physics