Personal statement advice: media studies and journalism

If you want to study media at university, or you think you're a budding journalist, you will need to show just how persuasive you can be by writing an effective personal statement.

Be clear and focused

The best personal statements are those that really go for it. Not in an off-the-wall kind of way, but by revealing something unique about you or your academic ideas or practical experiences. This is no place to hide behind waffle.

There’s a wide span of media courses, ranging from the theoretical to the practical, and your statement should focus on the specific type of course you’ve chosen to apply for.

When it comes to media studies courses, start by being clear about the kind of degree you want to study. Do you want to analyse media, produce content, or a combination of both? Whichever it is, demonstrate that you’re focused about this. Outline why you want to study the course, and the knowledge, ideas, or practical experiences you will bring to it.Similarly, journalism personal statements need to set out why you want to study it, and how your knowledge and experience supports this – particularly in the case of professionally accredited journalism degrees. A vague, unsubstantiated ambition to be a journalist will not suffice.

Practical journalism courses

If you’re applying for practical journalism courses, competition for places could be fierce. Here’s a selection of tips, courtesy of Bournemouth University, the University of Sheffield, and De Montfort University:

  • State clearly why you want to study journalism, and explain that you know something about the work of the central figure in journalism – the reporter.
  • Demonstrate creative writing ability, a good presentational style, accurate spelling, correct grammar, and a sound grasp of the English language.
  • Read quality broadsheet newspapers and follow major developing news stories. Show you're aware of current affairs.
  • Maybe explain what you noticed about how the reporting of a topical event differed depending on which publication you were reading, and the impact this may have had on shaping public perception.
  • Show you understand the power the media has, and the importance of reporting facts clearly and concisely.
  • Show that you can express your own opinions and thoughts, and know how to tell stories to different audiences.
  • Demonstrate your interpersonal skills, persistence, and an ability to dig deep into a wide range of topics.

Work experience in your personal statement

For practical journalism courses, some (though not all) unis will insist on work experience.

  • If you can, try to gain some work experience within a media environment, ideally in a newsroom of a local newspaper office. Free newspapers, local or hospital radio, or a TV newsroom could also give you insights into the reporter's job.
  • What did you learn? What skills did you observe as being particularly important? How has the experience impacted on your motivation to further your studies in journalism? See our guide for how to make work experience count in your personal statement.
  • Alternatively, are there any other settings where you've written for an audience, such as your own blog or your school newspaper? If so, what have you learned from this about working towards strict deadlines, or how writing pieces for an intended audience can alter the language and style you use?

If you’ve already had journalistic work published or broadcast, produced a blog, vlog, or podcast yourself, had a great reference from some relevant work experience; or anything else that may be relevant, consider sending them a link or clip separately.