How to write a personal statement that works for multiple courses

Communicating your passion for a subject in your personal statement is an art in itself – but what if you're applying to two (or more) very different courses with the same statement?

Yes, it is easier to tailor your personal statement to just the one subject or course – but that doesn't mean doing it for more than one is entirely impossible...

Applying to multiple courses or subjects? Check out our FAQs further down.

Writing a personal statement for more than one course

Ok, it is easier if all five of your choices are the same Throughout our personal statement advice, the message is clear: admissions tutors are very keen to hear why you've chosen that course, the reasons you're so enthusiastic about it,  and what aspects you especially want to learn more about at uni.

This assumes that you have one, specific course in mind, because you can only write one personal statement in your application (in most cases – see below when you can write an additional personal statement).

But what if your five choices aren't all the same?

With thousands of possible courses, it's hardly surprising that you may find it difficult narrowing down your choices to one specific subject or course.

It's possible that you may want to apply to two quite different courses, or to a mixture of single subject and joint or combined courses (with differing subjects). It isn't even unheard of for a student to apply successfully to five diverse courses with one application.

If you're in this scenario, take care with how you approach your application. But equally, don't be put off from applying to a variety of courses if you're genuinely interested in them.

So how do I write a personal statement for more than one course?

Here are some personal statement pointers depending on how different the courses you're applying to are:

1. If there are only slight differences, or you've chosen joint or combined degrees with slightly different subject combinations...

This shouldn't be a problem. Just try to make everything in your statement as relevant as possible to all five choices. If you've included some joint or combined degree courses, make sure that each discipline or subject is addressed in some way.

2. If there are big differences between your course choices...

It might be possible to blend your statement in such a way that everything you write provides appropriate evidence of your skills, academic interests, and the way you think that's relevant to all of the courses you've chosen.

Alternatively, you could take the honest and transparent approach, and openly explain why you've chosen to apply to different courses by providing reasons or evidence for each.

Whichever approach you take, if some (or all) of your course choices are very competitive, then it's advisable to put across your commitment to your chosen subjects as earnestly as you can. 

3. If just one of your choices is completely different from the others...

It quite often happens that admissions staff will agree to accept a separate personal statement for that specific course, sent directly to them.

However, make sure you contact that particular university first, to make sure that they're aware.

There are also two specific circumstances where choosing one course that's different from the other four might be unavoidable. These are:

  • If you're applying for medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine courses, where you're restricted to a maximum of four choices. In this situation, some courses at some universities will be happy to be your fifth choice, despite your statement not being directly relevant to them. However, we would advise contacting these universities directly to discuss your application. 
  • If you're applying for a unique or unusual course that's only offered by a small number of universities, then it's quite likely that admissions staff will be used to advising on this issue, and may even provide guidance on their website – check with them directly.

Finally, if in doubt...

Go straight to the horse's mouth: the university themselves.

First, check their website, as they may well have received previous enquiries about this and have published specific advice around it.

Secondly, department staff at a lot of universities will be quite happy to answer a quick email or phone enquiry.

Better still, go to an open day and speak to them face to face. While there will be many other students there too, your conversation may help you stand out later on.

Some courses won't have a problem if they can see that you've applied to a mixture of courses, but some may not make you an offer if your statement lacks focus, which is a risk when applying to multiple subjects.

So don't make assumptions – ask to be safe!

Applying to multiple courses or subjects: Frequently asked questions

Can I apply for different courses on UCAS?

Yes, you can make up to five  choices on your UCAS Undergraduate application. 

Can you apply for different courses at the same university?

Yes, you can apply to more than one course at the same university. For instance, you might apply to a single honours English course and a joint honours English and Media course, both at the same university.

Can you write more than one personal statement?

No, you only write one personal statement that all of your choices see. The same goes if you apply to further universities, or courses in Extra or Clearing.