How to Write a Great Postgraduate Personal Statement

Explain why the course at this particular university appeals to you. The course may have a distinct structure, modules which are exclusive to this course or links to industry.

Clare Johnson is the Career Zone Officer, based on the Streatham Campus.

Getting started:

  • You’ve done some research about choosing postgraduate study on our website: 
  • You may have discussed your options with a Careers Consultant, by contacting us to book an appointment via our live chat at in person at your Career Zone, or by phone on 01392 724493. 
  • You’ve decided postgraduate study is for you.

Now all that stands between you and that fantastic postgraduate course is a great application, particularly the crafting of a persuasive personal statement. The statement is your chance to show what you have to offer and how good a match you are for the course. 

How can you maximise your chances of success? Here are some tips to help you: 


  • Plan ahead as you’ll often need to submit your application early, particularly if the course is very competitive. Think about who you might ask for references and who could give you feedback. Start doing some research on the institution and the course.  
  • Read the Rules and Guidelines provided by the Institution. Many universities will have a particular procedure they want you to adopt and will give you advice about this. Also check the selection criteria. 

Getting Started: 3 top tips 

  • Keep the focus on why you want to study a particular programme and your potential to successfully complete the course.  
  • Use a positive, enthusiastic and professional tone and aim for clarity of expression. If you enjoy writing the statement, that will shine through.  
  • Tailor your statement to the course you’re applying for and make it unique.  

Structure your Personal Statement 

Although there’s no single way to write a personal statement, the following guidelines are useful to consider: 

  • Your statement should have an introduction, main body and conclusion and follow a clear methodical structure. 
  • The introduction should get straight to the point, to grab the reader’s attention from the beginning, and show your enthusiasm for studying the course.  
  • The main body should cover your academic and employment background, giving evidence of your knowledge and skills and showing why you’re a good match for the course.  
  • The conclusion should summarise why you’re the ideal candidate and how you would be an asset to the University.  
  • Length: Check the guidelines given by the university you’re applying for. A statement can be as short as 500 words, or as long as around 1500 words. If it’s not specified, go for about one and half sides of A4, around 1000-1500 words. Some institutions set a character limit instead.  

Show you’re ready to undertake postgraduate study 

  • Give the admissions tutors evidence of your enthusiasm, commitment and motivation for further study and research. 
  • Demonstrate your skills, and how they’ll fit with the course, e.g. time management, critical thinking, resilience, communication.  
  • Cover any grades, awards, work placements, extra readings or conferences that you’ve attended and how these have contributed to your readiness for Masters study. Show how you’re motivated to do high levels of independent research, and mention completed projects and dissertations. 
  • Address any obvious weaknesses, such as lower-than-expected module grades in your undergraduate degree or gaps in your education history. The university will want to know about these, so explain them with a positive spin. 

 Do your homework on the institution and the course. 

  • Show admissions tutors you know something about the institution you’re applying to. Say why you want to study there and what makes the institution stand out from others. Be specific, and if you’ve visited the institution or would like to work with a particular academic, for example, remember to mention it in your application.  
  • Explain why the course at this particular university appeals to you. The course may have a distinct structure, modules which are exclusive to this course or links to industry, for example. 

 Show how the course links to your past studies and your future career 

  • If the course is a development of what you’ve studied before, you can demonstrate how your academic study to date, is relevant. Evidence your interest in the subject, perhaps including some academic references or readings. Outline any particular skills you have to offer. 
  • If the course a completely new direction you can show how you will deal with the academic challenges which might arise.   
  • Giving some indication of which career you might want to get into will show selectors you have a good motivation for doing well on this course. Show evidence that this is an informed career decision. 

Thoroughly check your grammar, spelling and punctuation 

  • Your written communication skills are also being assessed so taking the time to get these right will be time well spent. 

 Ask for feedback 

  • You may have read your statement a hundred times over, but it always helps to have others look over it too. The Career Zone offers one to one appointments for feedback on postgraduate personal statements, bookable via the methods outlined at the start of this blog.  
  • It’s also a good idea to show your statement to an academic in the field. 


  • In many cases you’ll need to give the names of two academic referees.  These would usually be a tutor and a lecturer from your course since they’ll need to comment on your academic capabilities and suitability for the programme of study you’re applying for. 

A great personal statement will show the value you’ll add to the programme, as much as what you’ll gain from it, and why you’re worthy of a place on the course.  

There’s plenty more useful information and advice here: 

I hope you’ve found these tips on writing a great postgraduate application helpful. Allowing yourself time to complete your application will give you the best chance of success. Good luck with your applications.