Personal statement advice: economics

Writing a personal statement for economics? You'll need more than a subscription to The Financial Times to impress tutors. Here’s how to stand out by being relevant, personal, and concise

Ensure your enthusiasm for economics stands out

It's key to explain in your personal statement why you’re interested in economics and why you want to study it.

Think about the following:

  • Show an appreciation of mathematical concepts.
  • Reflect on something that has given you an insight into local, national, European or global economic issues, and explain what interests you about it.
  • If you have already been studying economics at A level (or equivalent), talk about an area of the course you’ve found especially interesting.
  • If you haven’t studied economics before, explain what has inspired your interest in it.
  • What especially appeals to you about the subject or the courses you’ve chosen? You can look up specific course details using our course search.
  • Demonstrate that you have a real interest in economic principles and concepts.
  • Show some understanding of economic theory.

What to include in your economics personal statement

  • Your long-term goals: explain how your degree choice fits with your future ambitions and career aspirations.
  • Wider reading: do pick out one or two specific issues that had an impact on you – just saying you subscribe to ‘The Economist’ or ‘The FT’ or that you’ve read ‘Freakonomics’ or ‘The Undercover Economist’ won't have an impact unless you elaborate. Better still, think outside the box and write about something you’ve read that’s slightly more obscure. As one admissions tutor said: 'If I read about ‘Freakonomics’ one more time, I’ll scream.'
  • Economics-related experience: reflect on any work experience, responsibilities, or non-academic interests or achievements that are relevant to economics or demonstrate appropriate skills or qualities.
  • Other relevant insights: if you’ve undertaken an economics-related project, Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) or summer school, reflect on any insights this has given you.
  • Demonstrate your skills: give examples of skills you possess that will serve you well as an economics student and mean you're able to proactively contribute to the course. These could include self-motivation, teamwork, the ability to think logically, effective time management, good communication, or problem-solving skills.

What not to include in your economics statement

We've also picked up some tips on what to avoid:

  • Don’t skim the surface – be specific.
  • Don’t give a shopping list of things you’ve read or done.
  • Don’t exaggerate.
  • Don’t waste space trying to impress with things you’ve done that aren’t relevant – relate everything to the courses you’re applying for.
  • Don’t make sweeping claims about your 'passion for economics', how you’ve 'loved it from an early age' and 'what an honour it would be to get accepted at your university'.
  • Avoid grammar and spelling mistakes.

As the University of Bristol's 'Why Study Economics?' website says, 'a straightforward personal statement that gets all the core points across in a coherent way serves the purpose best'. So do say something that will stand you out from the crowd, but avoid being too off-the-wall.

Don't be too bland and generic, either. London School of Economics says 'your statement should be as original as possible to differentiate you from other applicants' while the University of Nottingham looks for 'students with a wide variety of interests and enthusiasms from a wide variety of backgrounds'. Strike the right balance by demonstrating your enthusiasm, your intellectual curiosity, and the quality of your insights.