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Personal statement for Msc application.

(13 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

TinyDiamond Tue 25-Feb-14 19:56:14

I need some tips please. I have not written a personal statement for 10 years and that was the only one in total.

Where do I start? If anyone could direct me to any online resources I'd appreciate or even share snippets from their own so I can get the idea of what you are meant to include.

Also if there are any lecturers lurking here that get to read them please tell what you hate so I know not to do it. grin

The Msc is in Social Research.

AnneWentworth Thu 27-Feb-14 12:17:26

I thought it might be worth bumping this for you.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Thu 27-Feb-14 12:20:29

You'd probably do better with this on the Higher Education board, Tiny. Good luck.

TinyDiamond Thu 27-Feb-14 15:41:34

Thanks both I'll ask to move it

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 27-Feb-14 16:19:44

Hi there

We've moved this to Higher Ed now. Best of luck with the application TinyDiamond.

TinyDiamond Thu 27-Feb-14 16:40:03


BeckAndCall Thu 27-Feb-14 20:50:59

Tiny, do you use The Student Room website?

On there they have examples of hundreds of personal statements but I'm not sure if they have masters level - I bet they do.

One thing I do know is that it's not like UG UCAS applications where you have a one size fits all approach to your PS - each application process is different and each course may say what they want in their application.

So if you're applying to more than one uni you will need to write each application separately focussing on the specific course content and module structure there. Plus, they might ask for details on why this course helps you move towards your chosen career.

And like any application, they'll most likely be interested in how different experiences in your life have contributed to your skills and how those will be relevant to what it is you now want to study.

(This all gleaned from two DC who are both starting masters courses this autumn and who had lots of application forms to fill out!)

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Thu 27-Feb-14 21:36:04

I used to have a great deal to do with applications for postgraduate taught courses (as an administrator, not an academic). What I'm about to say may not apply to all academic areas so for context, this was for a course in an area of applied psychology.

In our department, we looked mostly at the applicant's academic record (degree result achieved/predicted, backed up by transcript) and their academic references. It goes, I hope, without saying that you should choose your academic referees with care and discuss the application with them before you go ahead. It never looked good when we got a reference back from someone who made a point of saying 'I cannot comment on the applicant's motivation for applying as s/he has not discussed this with me'. On one memorable occasion we got a reference from an academic who said although the applicant was from her department they had never had any contact and she had no idea why she had been nominated.

For many of our more mature applicants who had been away from study for a long time, work record was very important, supported by professional references and evidence of financial sponsorship/paid study leave from an employer.

Where applicants were interviewed, this carried a lot of weight.

I'm afraid the personal statement was perhaps the least most important bit of the application. I did get rather tired of reading about 'passion' and many applicants (especially from overseas) took 'personal' very literally and provided some quite inappropriate personal information. People with a very good CV needed to write very little in the personal statement because it was so obvious why they would be good candidates.

Having said that, I think it's important to make an effort with the personal statement, especially if your application is an unusual one (e.g. you are older than the average applicant or have an unusual first degree). Someone with a genuine case for special consideration, e.g. who got a 2.2 but had very strong mitigating circumstances, which an academic referee verifies, should put particular effort into a personal statement. Don't gloss over any difficulties and hope they won't get noticed. We once had an application from someone with a 3rd who made no attempt to explain why he hadn't done better. Not a good idea.

I would stress that you need to come across as genuinely keen but also realistic and well-read in the subject. Please, please get somebody to proofread it if you're not 100% confident about your spelling and grammar.

Also, if you apply to more than one place don't re-use the identical personal statement in all the applications! We once had someone who said 'I have been to many open days and reviewed lots of prospectuses and I am confident that the place I want to study is Nottingham Trent University.' Lovely. Just one problem: my university wasn't Nottingham Trent.

Good luck!

TinyDiamond Thu 27-Feb-14 22:03:21

Great that is really positive thank you. I will hopefully come out with a first on this degree and my academic refs are top notch (even if I do say so myself, I actually cried at one of them, it makes me sound incredible!)
I guess I am slightly older than most people applying, I'll be 27 at enrolment.

The degree I am now coming to the end of has been completed via distance learning so I do not have any gaps in my work history either so that should be fine too I guess.

The particular university don't give much info on WHAT they want to read in the PS hence me asking. I'll think some more. On paper I hope I look like a good candidate credentials wise, I just want to make myself sound cool, naturally.

I am confident I will be accepted onto it and obviously I'll have to fund it myself. I have already made contact with two academics in the faculty who have said it is a done deal. But obviously they are not the people who will read my initial application form when I submit it.

I do not frequent the studentroom but know what it is so will head over there. Thanks!

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Fri 28-Feb-14 13:05:48

Excellent! 27 is not old to be a postgrad. Lots of people take a gap year or three to build up money. I hope you have a really good time! It's a big step up but can be a fantastic experience.

MaddAddam Fri 28-Feb-14 13:14:55

I review applications for this type of course (and teach on various research-oriented postgrad courses). I think the academics who told you you'll have no problem getting on are probably right - for a self-funded research Msc, with a predicted 1st.

What I look for in applications is the degree grade (and university), previous qualifications (grades and subjects). Good academic references (though most people have these so I only really pick up on a less than enthusiastic one). And a literate application. I barely skim the personal statements - I only pick up on irregularities. I am not remotely interested in out of work hobbies - sports clubs, cookery habits, spending time with one's boyfriend, etc). That's quite normal I think - we want people who will be enthusiastic about doing research. And good at doing it. Based on previous academic/research history. The rest is immaterial.

Good luck!

Lomaamina Fri 28-Feb-14 20:39:29

OP there's a similar thread here with more advice, though you've already had some excellent advice here:

TinyDiamond Fri 28-Feb-14 22:15:07

Thanks to everyone.

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