Writing a personal statement for a Master’s degree application.
When you write your personal statement for an application to do a Master’s or any other type of further degree, much of the advice about the format will be similar to that given for writing a UCAS personal statement. You need to follow the pattern of (1) saying what has inspired you to study the subject, (2) making it clear that you really know something about your chosen subject, (3) describing relevant work experience, courses, reading and the like, and (4) saying something about your own personal qualities. But there is a different emphasis in the construction of your personal statement for an advanced course. Your decision to apply is in itself s sign of real commitment to your subject and of your readiness to take on a further academic commitment, but you need to be very convincing and detailed in your personal statement when you describe your enthusiasm for that subject. The admissions officer will want to know why you really want to do a further degree, which involves a lot of work and keeps you out of the wage-earning market for another year, and you should be quite honest here in what you say. Some further degrees are linked in an obvious way with career ambitions – an MBA, for example – but even here you will need to explain with some force and clarity what it is about Business or Management that interests you as an intellectual and academic pursuit, and how your curiosity is aroused. In most cases your ambition to study for a Master’s will have been fuelled by what you have studied in your first degree course, so in your personal statement you need to be clear about what it is that has so interested and impressed you, which specific areas of the subject have really caught your imagination, and how your interest has developed. Be precise here. The Master’s course will be much shorter than your undergraduate course and much more concentrated. It will focus on a particular area of the subject, which means that you need to have done a lot of research before you apply to make sure that it does deal with material that particularly interests you. In your personal statement you need to show how the material you have already studied leads with some directness into the advanced course, and the more authority you can show in your understanding, the more of your own personal research you can describe, and the more reading you have done relevant to the course, the more impressive will be your application.
References to work experience, courses and so on now need to be strictly relevant to your application. Mentioning your Saturday job at Burger King is of no interest whatsoever. The key factor is clear focus on the course you want to do. The same is true of all personal details you might mention.
While the technical requirements of a UCAS personal statement are very strict and uniform, your further degree application may not make strict stipulations about length or number of characters. If so, you should see this as an advantage. You can write what you want to write and explain yourself freely, all the time remembering that the most important quality is relevance.