Personal statement advice: politics

Have you chosen to study politics? Then you’ll need to write a personal statement that’s thoughtful, reflective, and enthusiastic. Admissions tutors give us their top tips below:

Politics: less can be more

Demonstrating your understanding of and interest in studying politics is a key way of impressing tutors:

‘The most persuasive statements are those that are clearly written and which get straight to the point. Less is often more. I simply want it made clear to me that an applicant is academically interested in studying the subject at university, that they’ve done their homework, and have a sense of what the academic study of politics is actually about… that it’s not just current affairs.

It’s also best to avoid pretentious or ostentatious language. Short sentences please! And while some experience of the political world or participating in activities like the UK Youth Parliament can send a good signal, I never particularly wish to know if an applicant wants to be prime minister.’ Dr Nicholas Allen - Politics and International Relations Admissions Tutor, Royal Holloway, University Of London

The University of Bristol helpfully outlines what tutors are looking for in politics applicants on its website – you need to show evidence of:

  • your engagement with the subject beyond the A level (or equivalent) syllabus
  • what it is that specifically and explicitly enthuses you about the debates you engage with, the books you read, and the ideas you discuss

They would also be very interested in your reflections on any relevant volunteering or campaigning you might have done, but it’s you as an individual and your intellectual engagement with ideas that they most want to get a feel for. There's no model answer – it just needs to be unique to you. Or one other way you might stand out, in Dr Allen's view, is by speaking to an admissions tutor at an open day and following it up with an email exchange.