How to write a great master’s personal statement

SOURCE: Ina Fassbender / AFP
A personal statement is a necessary part of your university application that highlights your experience and explains why you should be chosen as a student.

By U2B Staff 

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A master’s personal statement is an important part of a postgraduate application. It supports your application and gives you a chance to articulate why you would like to study a particular course or subject, and what skills and experiences you possess that further highlight your passion.

As an undergraduate, chances are you have written a statement before, and you know what to expect, however, an undergraduate personal statement should not be used as a template. At this point, you are expected to have progressed academically, and admission officers will want to see evidence of this.

When applying to a UK university, finding out that grades are not enough to gain entry onto the programme of your choice can come as an unwelcome surprise. This is especially true for international students, many of whom see the words ‘personal statement’ for the first time when beginning their applications. 

Your personal statement tells universities why you are a suitable choice. It is the first, most important and sometimes only chance you will get to impress, making it a crucial stepping stone to achieving your goal of studying at a UK university. 

Here are some tips to remember when writing a master’s personal statement for a UK university:

What should you include?

  • Your academic and professional aspirations
  • How you became interested in the subject you are enrolling for
  • Relevant work experience that is related to the course or subject
  • Evidence of your interest and expertise
  • What attracted you to the university 
  • Other relevant academic interests and passions which display positive character
  • Any weaknesses or gaps explained with a positive spin

If you are an international student, you should mention why you are interested in studying in the UK, your English language skills (including any courses or programmes you have completed), and why your goals will be best met in the UK rather than in your home country. 


How should it be written?

There is no definite format to follow, as your personal statement should be ‘personal’ and unique. It can be helpful to read sample statements online, to get a better understanding of relevant content, structuring and formalities, however, the tone is up to you. 

Write in an enthusiastic, concise, and natural style without being too complex. Try to stand out but be extra mindful with humour, quotes, or anything unusual.

The tone should be formal and free of contradictions, slang, or jokes. Remember that your personal statement will be read by an academic, and sometimes, a leader in the field. 

An opening paragraph is the most important part to catch the attention of the admissions officer, ensuring they read through to the end. The piece is relatively short which means it is essential to avoid sentences that sound pretty but do not serve a real purpose. 

A majority of postgraduate applications are submitted online directly to the university. If so, present your personal statement in a standard font such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman, text size 11 or 12.

If your application will be submitted through UKPASS (UCAS’s postgraduate application service), the font style will not matter as it will be automatically formatted.

How long should your personal statement be?

The length of a personal statement varies. Certain postgraduate programmes may require a 1000 word personal statement, some might require 500. This will be clearly specified, depending on the university.

Whatever the word count may be, try your best to not go over the limit. Admissions officers have thousands of statements to go through, and a clearly written, a concise personal statement is likely to be the one that stands out.


What are the common errors of a personal statement?

Common errors include the statement being too long or too short, it could lack important information, or it could have a confusing structure. 

It is crucial that the information you include is accurate and easy to fact-check. Never exaggerate your personal or educational achievements as officers will question most aspects you include and pay close attention to your answers. 

The most important tip of all, do not copy someone else’s work. Most applications are made through UCAS or UKPASS, which uses sophisticated software to detect plagiarism. If your personal statement is detected to have copied content from the internet or previous statements, it will immediately be rejected. Keep your personal statement personal