Anthropology Personal Statement

Anthropology, and the whole question of what makes us human, has interested me deeply for many years, and my working career in the world has only served to increase my fascination with human behaviour. I am frequently struck by a remark by Wade Davis in National Geographic that “All peoples are cultural options, different visions of life itself making for completely different possibilities for existence”.  The notion that the way we live, think and behave is in some way a cultural artefact, an option we, or our society, have chosen in some way, opens up endless scope for speculation and study.  The interest of the subject is limitless, and the material – our fellow human beings – is all around us.  The explanations offered by anthropology involve evolution, genetics, primate behaviour, nutrition, religion, kinship and ultimately politics. I am a mature student, with many years’ experience of the workplace, as well as many years’ observations of my fellow man.  My disturbed early life made it impossible for me to pursue a normal academic route to my goal, but I believe now that I have the clarity of vision and the maturity of purpose to feel confident of success in a degree course. My work experience has given me some useful insights into how human beings interact.  I worked for three years as a psychiatric nurse, dealing with patients suffering from schizophrenia and multi-personality and bi-polar disorders.  It was a stressful job, but fascinating to communicate with patients and observe their behaviour.  It was rewarding to be able to make connections with such people and I feel that I learnt a lot from the experience.  More recently I have run my own business, a successful pet-care company, training and caring for dogs.  This has taught me much about professionalism and responsibility, and the importance of maintaining high standards in all that I do. These experiences have given me the confidence to return to my long-term ambition to study anthropology and eventually work in the field.

My central interest is in the question of cultural diversity and how it can be maintained in an increasingly globalized and uniform world.  Wade Davis has written about the destructive effects of language loss around the world, and the way that this threatens cultural diversity and what he calls the “worldwide web of belief and ritual”.  I witnessed some of this for myself in a three month trip to Laos, where I lived with a Buddhist family in a village on the Mekong Delta.  The people were bound by communist rulings which prohibited them from hosting foreigners in their homes, but their hospitality defied this law.  I was amazed by their resilience under extreme poverty and by their wonderful sense of community.  Their Buddhist faith gave them hope and a tool for survival.  Such human phenomena are endlessly interesting, because they are so moving.  We may all be genetically the same, but the human world has been shaped in many different ways, by history, geography, politics and so on.  This has been confirmed for me in my many travels to such destinations as West Africa, Egypt, India and Brazil.

I should like ideally to work in the field of protecting such diversity, perhaps in a large NGO as an adviser on third world development programmes, or as an ethnic relations officer.  Working as a researcher for documentaries on such subjects is also attractive.  I intend to give time to voluntary work also, gaining essential experience and continuing to study the variety of cultures around the world and the threats to their survival.  My local museum, the Horniman, has been a great source of inspiration for me too, and I can imagine doing voluntary work in such a place.

I am hard-working, clear-sighted about my ambitions and passionate about my subject.  My absence from the academic world has made my decisions more realistic and hard-headed, and I can guarantee to give my undivided efforts to a degree course.  I hope you will consider my application.


This Anthropology personal statement sample can be used as a helpful guide for students who are applying for Higher Education study through UCAS.