A good personal statement can make the difference between getting a place on a masters course and being rejected, so it’s worth putting time and effort in to writing it. Here are some tips to help you master your masters application.
- Give your statement a structure with an introduction, a main body and a conclusion. Use the opening paragraph to grab the reader’s attention.
- Make sure you have a good visual layout with some white space.
- Write in short sentences of no more than 25-30 words.
Include why you are applying: showing an interest in the subject, the course and the university.
- To show your interest in the subject include scientific papers, books, university modules, and any conferences or talks you have attended. Explain what your career aspirations are and how this course will help you to achieve them. You can also include any work experience or extracurricular activity that reinforces your interest in your subject.
- For the course, give specific details about what attracts you, such as how it is assessed, the modules or opportunities for work placement. Here you want to show why it is different from other programmes. You could also comment on how studying at a Masters level will differ from an undergraduate level (for instance by being more strategic, by looking at how theories are applied to the world, or by developing new skills).
- To explain why you are applying to the university it’s a good idea to mention particular lecturers and areas of research and also links to industry or other external organisations. You may also want to mention the location, facilities and student satisfaction ratings. It’s important to show here that you have researched the organisation in some depth, statements like “ranked 4th in world” are not enough.
- Give examples of your proven academic ability to date and show that you enjoy learning. Focus on areas that will be developed in the Masters such as your research and data analysis skills and your ability to write up and present research.
- You should demonstrate that you have the skills needed to succeed at the MSc level including: the ability to preserve despite obstacles (as few research projects are trouble free), that you enjoy independent study and that you have project and time management skills.
- Engaging in student life: If you can show you were engaged with your undergraduate university’s community then this might be a good place to mention what you did. It’s also a good idea to talk about how you can contribute to the institution you are applying to.
Admissions tutors say that spelling and grammatical errors and poor structure are one of the main reasons for rejecting students. So it’s a good idea to go through your statement with your personal tutor or supervisor, then book a one-to-one careers appointment to discuss it with a Careers Consultant.
Gill Lambert, Careers Consultant