Personal Statement History Oxford

If you’re writing with your first choice university in mind, be careful that you don’t let slip any information that may reveal this; for example, if you know that the English course at your first-choice university places great emphasis on early English, but your other choices have less of a focus on this aspect, they may be able to tell that your heart lies elsewhere!Whether it’s a below-par GCSE grade, or many, or a less-than-brilliant predicted A-level grade, or many, the ease with which you’ll be able to explain this shortfall on your personal statement depends very much on the circumstances surrounding it.

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Unless you’re applying for a joint honours course, you’re not going to be able to choose two wildly different subjects, because your personal statement simply won’t work if you try to appeal to admissions tutors from different courses or departments.

However, you can choose closely related subjects, and of course some courses are called different things at different universities and cover some different topics.

Approaching it this way has the advantage of allowing you to talk in more depth about the main subject; if you’re trying to talk about two subjects in a very limited amount of space, you may not be able to say everything you want to say.

On the other hand, if you can show how keen you are on both subjects, and even talk about why you think it makes sense to study both, then your personal statement may come across stronger than that of a student who only talks about one subject, with no explanation as to why they have applied for the joint honours course rather than that one subject on its own.

This may be a sensitive issue and it’s probably best not to dwell too much on in your personal statement; you don’t want to look as though you are angling for the ‘sympathy vote’.

However, genuinely extenuating circumstances that explain a bad grade should be mentioned in passing, along with an explanation of what you’re doing to make up for it and, ideally, evidence to back up your claim that you’re trying to do better.

Don’t fall into the trap of stating your enthusiasm for studying a particular module if it’s not provided at all your university choices, because it will look odd to the universities who don’t cover it (and may be enough to lose you a potential offer).

Avoid specifically naming any course in particular, as this is another dead giveaway to admissions tutors that another university may be your first choice.

The key points you need to get across when applying for a joint honours course are: Rather than trying to talk about both at the same time, you might find it more straightforward to begin by talking about one subject, then the other, and then perhaps adding a line or two about why you think it would be beneficial to study them alongside each other.

A slightly different way of doing it would be to talk about the first subject (what motivates you to study it, what aspects particularly interest you, and so on), and then discuss the second in relation to the first, immediately discussing why you think it complements the first and why you think a joint honours course is for you.


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