Green game piece surrounded by white game pieces
Whilst most of the information on the UCAS form is factual (such as your qualifications or your employment history) or you do not have direct control over (your reference), your personal statement gives you the opportunity to tell us about your strengths. We receive a high number of applications for every place that is available, so we are looking to select those who demonstrate they have all of the attributes to succeed.
The criteria that we use to short list applications is determined in some cases by the key skills set out by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) but is supplemented by the factors that we have identified are most likely to ensure that applicants develop into successful students and subsequently professionals.
A useful resource is the Getting into Nursing book which offers advice on making your application stand out from the crowd.
We hope that the information below will help you identify the areas that you need to be strong in, and also how to go about gaining and improving upon your current skills base.

Knowledge and understanding of the profession

What is it that particularly draws you to this career? What is it that you think that you will be doing? It is important that we know you have a realistic view of what the profession is all about. There are lots of useful websites that you can visit, one being NHS Health Careers. There are also websites that relate to official organisations that represent nurses, looking at these will further enhance your knowledge. It may also be worthwhile in talking to someone who already works in this role – they will be able to tell you what it is really like.
It is important that you demonstrate within your application that you have completed this research. Applicants who display a thorough knowledge and understanding of the course and profession clearly indicate their intention and ability to study the subject at a University level.


You may well possess all of the academic qualifications needed to be successful, but without the commitment, motivation and enthusiasm too you may find it a struggle. The admissions tutors will be looking for you to explain why a career in nursing is really where you see yourself – what is it that is making you apply for this course rather than any one of the many others that are out there?

Relevant work experience

We strongly recommend all applicants to gain experience within a care setting. Whilst in most cases it is not possible to work in a directly comparable environment you can develop transferable skills which enhance an application. Even if you are not able to gain experience in a care setting, try to think of the skills you have gained in any other employment, voluntary work or activities that you do/have done. Of the skills you have, why are they needed to be a nurse?

Personal qualities

The list below is of some of the skills and qualities that the admissions tutors will be looking for in an application. Remember, it is no good just listing the skills you have, you need to tell us how you developed them and why they are needed to be a successful.
  • Communication skills.
  • Ability to empathise with others.
  • Problem solving and use of initiative.
  • Ability to study/work independently and in groups.
  • Willingness to learn.
  • Work effectively under pressure.
Outside interests and extra curricula activities should be included. It is also important that you consider when putting together your personal statement it is the first (and maybe last) opportunity to show us the quality of your written work!

Some top tips

Applying for more than one course
Most admissions tutors are looking for applicants wholly committed to their profession and who demonstrate an understanding within their personal statement. It is difficult to do this when applying for more than one course. If you wish to apply for more than one course we recommend you concentrate on one course during your UCAS application and then contact the admissions team to ask if you can submit a revised personal statement for the other courses.

Visit an open day
An open day is a chance for you to visit the university and listen to specific talks given by academic staff from the subject areas you are interested in. They will tell you what it is like to study with us, and also what we are looking for in an applicant. It is also a good opportunity for you to question them directly about concerns you may have. We also try to have current students from each of the courses available (placements permitting of course!) to talk to you about how they find life at the University of Plymouth studying to be a health professional - they will be able to give you a different viewpoint from that of the academic staff. It should also help you to understand how the balance between the theory and practical time is achieved.
Please see our webpage on open days for further information and to book your place.

Keep trying
Due to the high number of applications we receive each year in relation to the number of places we have, there are a number of candidates who are naturally disappointed when they are not offered a place. If you are unsuccessful we are not necessarily saying you could not succeed, it is just that on this occasion there were others who demonstrated their skills and qualities more effectively. We would encourage those not successful to keep applying. By looking at the selection criteria outlined above unsuccessful applicants can develop their profile and be able to improve their application - not only that it will prove that they are determined and committed.