Personal statement advice: philosophy

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

Show your analytical abilities

Some applicants for philosophy degrees will already be studying the subject, but many won’t have studied it before. If you are in that position, then Professor Christopher Janaway at University of Southampton has some simple but clear advice to offer: 'We want you to show us that you have a genuine interest in the subject, so tell us about the reading you’ve done, lectures you’ve been to, or any other ways you have engaged with philosophy.'

University of Bristol selectors outline a whole range of qualities that would impress. But what perhaps stands out amongst these, alongside demonstrating your interest and commitment to philosophy, is that the way you approach your statement needs to show that you are capable of clear thinking, and understanding and that you can analyse problems and construct an argument.

Giving structure to your statement will be very important, though how you actually thread it is entirely up to you.

London School of Economics selectors are also interested in your views and opinions on 'questions such as morality, free will, or consciousness,' as well as the experiences you have had which have led to your desire to study philosophy. Such as, they would expect the majority of your statement to be based around your subject interest and enthusiasm.

It’s open-ended – you have 47 lines and no rules, but don’t try to be too smart. You will stand out by doing your research, being interesting, relevant, and different, and by reflecting on what you’ve been reading.