Writing a personal statement for your UCAS application

What is a personal statement?

The personal statement is your opportunity to tell your admissions tutor why you’re the right student to be offered a place on your chosen course. We don’t interview all our applicants so this is your one chance to sell yourself for courses that don’t require an interview.
If you do apply for a course that does invite candidates to interview, your personal statement may also form the basis of your interview.

When I read your personal statement, the first thing I look for is enthusiasm about the subject. Your statement should paint a picture of why you want to study your degree. If you know what you want to do after the course, that is great but it is not essential.

Your outside interests and work experience can show more about you – which topics have already engaged you and which books have you read? Have you been a trusted person at work? Have you volunteered to help others learn at school? Have you trained people in a sport? Any of these things makes you a stronger applicant.

Dr Martin Lavelle, Associate Head of School and Admissions Tutor (School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics)


You can only write 47 lines and a maximum of 4,000 characters

There is also a minimum of 1,000 characters, so use these wisely.

The form does not have spell check

We recommend completing and spell checking the form in Word or equivalent and then copying the text across when you are ready. The form also times out after 35 minutes, so save it regularly as you don’t want to lose your hard work. 

Remember to be honest

Think about what makes you interesting, special or unique. Try and show your passion for your chosen course. 

Map out your ideas

Set your thoughts in writing and then build these up into paragraphs.

75% of your statement should cover your academic strengths, motivation and interests

Why did you choose this course? How will it benefit you studying on it?

The remaining 25% should cover skills not directly related to your course 

For example, this could cover your personal achievements, career aspirations, life skills and strengths.
<p>Student aboard a marine vessel<br></p>
<p>Student working in a laboratory<br></p>
<p>Student working on geological rock formations<br></p>
<p>Two students working on a scupture in a workshop<br></p>

Your personal statement checklist

  • J Look at course descriptions and identify the qualities, skills and experience required – you can use these to help you decide what to write about.
  • J Tell the reader why you’re applying – include your ambitions, as well as what interests you about the subject, the course provider and higher education.
  • J Think about what makes you suitable – this could be relevant experience, skills or achievements you’ve gained from education, work or other activities.
  • J Include any clubs or societies you belong to – sporting, creative, or musical.
  • J Mention any relevant employment experience or volunteering you’ve done.
  • J If you’ve developed skills through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, ASDAN, National Citizen Service, the CREST Awards or Young Enterprise, include them in your statement.
  • J If you took part in a higher education taster course, placement, summer school or something similar, include it.