Applying for master’s study can be easy to put off, especially if you’re in the final year of your undergraduate degree with deadlines constantly approaching for things you didn’t even know had deadlines! It’s the same if you graduated a while ago, but other things like work and life just keep getting in the way. Here’s hoping we can make it a little less stressful with our guide to writing a personal statement for postgraduate study.
Remember the final year of Sixth Form/College when you had to write a personal statement for one course and then submit to five universities? Submitting all those drafts to your tutor only to be returned with spelling mistakes highlighted; circles around words you used a thesaurus on and being told that being admin of a WhatsApp group did not count as leadership skills! Well, you’ll be glad to know that applying for a master’s course isn’t like that!
There is no UCAS system for postgraduate study. At postgraduate level, once you have decided which course you want to study, you can then apply directly through the university’s website.
Check out our website (some subtle self-promotion) hint hint
Just don’t go overboard with the thesaurus!
You can apply for more than one course/university
You may know what you want to study, whether it’s a progression of your undergraduate degree; or something related to your professional career you are currently at but if you don’t, there’s no need to worry. At postgraduate level, if you like the look of one or two courses, then you can apply for them both.
Here at the University of Liverpool we offer so many courses that you are spoilt for choice, so we understand.
The writing part
Writing about yourself can be hit and miss; some could write pages whilst others not so much. Remember this is a statement for academic study, so an autobiography about your personal life probably isn’t the best idea.
That being said before you start to write anything: PLAN! Having a good structure to a personal statement will make it easier to read. Make sure that each paragraph logically follows on from the one before.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The Introduction
The introduction is the framework for the rest of your statement, so consider starting with something engaging! Don’t start with something cliché or cheesy, keep it natural. Also, avoid starting with a quote! Instead say what influenced you to study the course rather than “I always wanted to study” or “I knew from a young age.”
Your enthusiasm and interest in the course is what they want to know, so probably best to start with it.
Show you have the skills and motivation to study the course and always back it up with examples. Work experience, academic interests and travel experience are always good to include, as well as future career aspirations. This is also when you can show you have actually researched the course. It also helps why the University too.
- Why do you want to study at that particular Institution?
- What personal skills and experience you possess that will help you undertake the master’s?
- How undertaking the course will contribute to your careers goals?
- What academic and non-academic skills do you have to offer?
- What relevant experience have you got?
These are just some things to consider when you are writing the main body of the personal statement. You should also include your key skills such as evidence research, negotiation, critical thinking and organisation, planning and time-management and show how you would be a great addition to the University.
Write about the skills that set you apart from other candidates and make you stand out (everyone mentions teamwork skills even though they hated working in group projects during University!)
You’ll be glad to hear personal statements are usually no longer than one side of A4, it will differ depending on the Institution but generally aim for paragraphs with around 70-80 words.
As hard as it is to start a personal statement, it’s the same trying to end one. Don’t worry about this.
Keep it short. The conclusion should pull together all of your main points and clearly show your desire to study.
When you have finished writing your personal statement, use the people around you, including friends, family, and even university services or work colleagues, to check your grammar and spelling.