Blending your academic and extracurricular interests
Of course, those extracurricular interests should be relevant to geography, rather than random other things you do. But given that geography is such a far-reaching subject, this can cover a multitude of activities, interests or experiences. It could also be something you do locally, or somewhere you’ve travelled in the UK, or overseas.
But whatever it is, don’t just say you’ve done it. What’s essential is that you write about it in an interesting and reflective way showing what you’ve gained from it. That way, you’re sure to stand out from the crowd.
Show the real you
The University of Southampton is looking for a similar blend in your geography personal statement: ' A high quality piece of writing that outlines your interests in geography, your extracurricular pursuits, and something of what makes you distinctive as a person.'
A good way to do this is to write about something that excites you about the subject, whether it’s a particular aspect of the syllabus, your wider reading, a project (the EPQ would be relevant if you’re doing one), fieldwork, your extracurricular interests – or ideally, a combination of some of those things. The more interesting it is, the more distinctive you will come across as a person.
See our in-depth guide to studying geography at university, from entry requirements to careers.
More things for geographers to think about
- Wider reading: The London School of Economics is looking for what's motivated you to apply for their course – including wider reading or activities and your interest in 'contemporary geographical problems and their alleviation'. The University of Bristol's website asks for evidence that you have extended your interest in the subject 'beyond formal classroom provision'.
- Uni open days: these can be a great opportunity to get some specific advice. Subject talks will usually mention what they look for in personal statements or, if not, don’t be afraid to ask them face-to-face.
- Talk about particular interests in topics featured in the courses you’re applying for: if regeneration, GIS, tropical savannas, glaciology, coastal zones, tourism or geopolitics fascinate you, write about it in a specific way – avoid bland, obvious phrases like 'I’ve always enjoyed geography'.
- Specialist geography courses: if your UCAS choices include specialist areas including development, population, marine or environmental aspects of geography, include evidence of relevant interests. Maybe you’ve travelled somewhere and taken note of social conditions, read something interesting about migration or marine ecology, or contributed to an environmental debate which has sparked an interest to learn about environmental policy...
- Show why you're passionate: as Dr Reimer at Southampton says: 'We are keen to teach students who are fascinated by the subject, so we want you to demonstrate your enthusiasm for it in your statement'.