What is a personal statement?
Your postgraduate personal statement is your chance to get noticed for your expertise and experience you’ve gathered. It’s an important part of the application process as it allows you to talk about yourself and your passions and prove the value you can bring to your chosen university.
In this article, we’re going to talk you through how to write a postgraduate personal statement that stands out and gives you the best chance of being offered a place on the master’s programme you’re applying for.
Preparing to write your personal statement
You’ll have already written a personal statement for your undergraduate study, so you’ll know the importance of preparation. There are two things to think about when you’re planning:
- The practical and factual information you need to get across.
- Then, the more emotional, human parts of you that make you different to everyone else.
Before you start writing, take some time to think about the key things you’d want your chosen university to know about you, and get them down on paper.
Questions to focus your mind
- Why have you chosen this master’s programme?
- Why are you passionate about this subject matter?
- How has your undergraduate study influenced your decision to apply?
- Have you got any work experience that might help you?
- What life experiences have you had that you could talk about?
- What achievements can you talk about to support your application?
- Why do you want to study at this particular university?
- What plans and ambitions do you have for your future career?
Opening your personal statement
Admissions tutors will be reading a lot of personal statements so it’s important to grab their attention right from the start.
You can find a full guide on How to start a personal statement: The attention grabber but here are the main things for you to think about.
- Don’t overthink the opening. Just start by showing your enthusiasm for the subject, showcasing your knowledge and understanding, and sharing your ambitions of what you want to achieve.
- Avoid cliches. Remember, this opening part is simply about introducing yourself, so let the admissions tutor reading your personal statement get to know you.
- Keep it relevant and simple. You’re limited on how much you can include so avoid long-winded explanations. Why use 50 words when ten can make your point?
Talking about the course
Now you’re ready to start talking about the course and subject you’re applying for.
There are four main areas you’ll need to cover in this section of your personal statement.
- Why are you applying for this master’s?
Think about your undergraduate study and how this master’s will develop your expertise further. Do you have career aspirations this course will help you achieve?
- Why does the subject interest you?
This is your chance to show your passion and really demonstrate who you are. If you have work or volunteering experiences related to the subject, include them here.
- Why do you think you’ll be an asset to the university?
Your personal and practical skills combined together create a unique picture of who you are and why you’ll be a successful postgraduate student, so include both.
- How does your previous undergraduate study relate to the course?
Showcase your enthusiasm for your current study and take the opportunity to demonstrate your skills and knowledge now, and how you want to build on that.
Next, you’ll need to write about your personal skills and achievements.
Universities like to know the abilities you have that’ll help you on the course, or generally with life at university. Don’t forget to include evidence to back up why you’re so passionate about the programme you’ve chosen.
Work experience and future plans
Your work experience and future plans are important to include in your personal statement. You should share details of jobs, placements, work experience, or voluntary work, particularly if it's relevant to your course.
- Try to link any experience to skills or qualities that’ll make you successful on your course.
- If you know what you’d like to do after as a career, explain how you plan to use the knowledge and experience you’ll gain.
Ending your personal statement
It’s always good to connect the beginning of your statement to the end and a great way to reinforce what you said at the start. You want to see the ending as your chance to end in a way that’ll make the university remember you.
This final part of your personal statement should emphasise the great points you’ve already made and answer the question of why you should be offered a place on the course.
Read our full guide on How to finish your statement the right way.
Now you’ve written your postgraduate personal statement, you’ll need to do a couple of final things before you submit it.
- Have you proofread your personal statement?
Don’t just rely on spellcheckers. We’d recommend reading it out loud as that’s a great way to spot any errors as well as checking it sounds like you.
- Have you asked for feedback?
Ask friends, family or your undergraduate university tutors to have a read through your personal statement and take their feedback on board.
- Check out our personal statement dos and don'ts
Have a look at the common pitfalls against your final draft to make sure you haven't made any obvious errors!
Use the UCAS’ personal statement tool alongside this guide to help you structure your ideas.
Do you want to understand the differences between an undergraduate and postgraduate personal statement? Take a look at our guide here.
Why study a postgraduate course? Find out here.