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UCAS Psychology - How do I write a personal statement for Psychology?

ucas personal statement for psychology

15th July 2014

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Follow this step by step process to get your personal statement to the point you can show it to your reviewers for feedback…

Step One: Think and jot

Think about yourself… write down all your

1) Personal achievements 2) Experience and 3) Spare time interests

Step Two: Think ‘Why Psychology?’

Write down your answers to these questions..

Do you have any career plans? How do they relate to Psychology?

Have you had any life/work experiences that relate to Psychology? Don’t get too personal though...

Which parts of the A level have you been fascinated by? Have you read any books that have sparked your interest?

Step Three: Think ‘Why did I choose my A levels?

Ask yourself… How do my A levels relate to Psychology?

Is it the scientific aspects? ( e.g. chemistry, biology, physics) Statistics? ( Maths) Evaluation of evidence? ( History or Politics) The reasons why people do or write what they do? ( English Lit , History, Polictics, Human Geography etc....

Step Four: Think ‘What do I need to include?’ and ‘Is there anything I’ve not written down so far that I need to include?

Step Five: Sort it into paragraphs. Here is an idea of the format you might use

Paragraph one….Why Psychology? Talk about the reasons for your choice…

Paragraph two… How does my academic record and choice of A levels make me well placed to study for a Psychology degree? Talk about your A level choices.

Paragraph three…Who am I? This is the paragraph about you…who are you? What are you interested in? What do you do in your spare time? What achievements have you had?

Paragraph four: … The ‘Pick me’ Paragraph. This paragraph should be forward looking. Talk about careers etc

• You will have to do many drafts, there is rarely a statement that is perfect first time.

• Show it to as many people ( who will help!) as you can

• Don’t give up, you will get there

• Don’t lie…you could be caught out at interview

• Don’t use any readymade ones. Admissions officers know them all and can spot them easily.

• Work on it and then put it away for a day or so. Then when you do read it again, read it out loud to yourself. It’s a great way to pick up on flow, repetition and grammatical errors.

Jim co-founded tutor2u alongside his twin brother Geoff! Jim is a well-known Business writer and presenter as well as being one of the UK's leading educational technology entrepreneurs.

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How to write a UCAS personal statement

A student writing a personal statement on a laptop

Writing a great personal statement

Read our guide on what it is, what to include, how to start, length and what makes a good personal statement 

Once you've decided which universities and courses to apply for, completing your application is pretty simple – until it comes to how to write your UCAS personal statement.

This guide covers everything you need to know about how to write a personal statement for university. We look at what it is and how you can start your personal statement. We've also got questions to guide you and a suggested personal statement structure you can use so you know what to put in it.

If you'd like even more resources, support and UCAS personal statement examples, you can sign up to access our personal statement hub .

What is the UCAS personal statement?

How universities use your ucas personal statement, how to start a ucas personal statement.

  • Get feedback on your UCAS personal statement

The personal statement is part of your UCAS application. It's how you show your chosen universities why you'll make a great student and why they should make you an offer.

Your personal statement also helps you think about your choice of course and your reasons for applying, so you know you’ve made the right decision.

Get feedback on your personal statement

Sign up to our personal statement hub to get feedback on your draft. You'll also get access to videos, help sheets and more tips.

Sign up now

UCAS personal statement word limit

Your personal statement length can be up to 4,000 characters long. 

This may sound a lot, but it's a word limit of around 550–1000 words with spaces and only about 1 side of typed A4 paper.

You need to keep it concise and make sure it's clear and easy to read.

Applying for multiple courses

Although you can apply for up to 5 courses on your UCAS application, you can only submit 1 personal statement. So it needs to cover all your course choices.

If you really want to show your commitment to applying for different courses, we will accept a second personal statement from you to reflect your application e.g. if you are applying for Law elsewhere, but Criminology and Criminal Justice with us.

Lots of students who apply to university have achieved the basic entry requirements and many more students apply than there are places available. Admissions teams can use your UCAS personal statement to get to know you and decide why you're more suitable than other applicants.

Some universities read every personal statement and score them. Then they use them alongside your qualifications and grades to decide whether to offer you a place or interview. Other universities put less emphasis on the personal statement and use it with students who have borderline entry requirements.

Universities might refer to your personal statement again on results day if you don't get the grades you need. So a good personal statement could clinch you a uni place even if your grades aren't what you hoped for.

Starting your personal statement can seem scary when you're staring at a blank screen. But, things will seem less daunting once you start.

  • Set aside some time in a place where you're comfortable and won't be disturbed. Grab a notepad or computer.
  • Write down anything and everything that's influenced your decision to go to university and study your chosen subject. Jot down your skills and experience too.
  • Use the questions below to guide you. Don't worry about the personal statement length at this point – you can cut things out later.

When to start your UCAS personal statement

Ideally, you want to leave yourself plenty of time – a few weeks or even months – to plan and write your personal statement.

Try not to leave it to the last minute, as tempting as this may seem when you've got so many other things to think about.

Questions to guide you

Your motivation.

  • Why do you want to study at university?
  • Why do you want to study this subject?
  • How did you become interested in this subject?
  • What career do you have in mind after university?

Academic ability and potential

  • How have your current studies affected your choice?
  • What do you enjoy about your current studies?
  • What skills have you gained from your current studies?
  • How can you demonstrate you have the skills and qualities needed for the course?
  • What qualities and attributes would you bring to the course and university?

Your experience

  • What work experience (including part-time, charity and volunteer work) do you have and what have you learnt from it?
  • What positions of responsibility have you held? (For example, prefect, captain of a team or member of a committee)
  • What relevant hobbies or interests do you have and what skills have they helped you develop?
  • What transferable skills do you have, such as self motivation, team working, public speaking, problem solving and analytical thinking?

Research and reading

  • How do you keep up with current affairs or news in your chosen subject?
  • What journals or publications relevant to your chosen subject do you read?
  • Which people have influenced you, such as artists, authors, philosophers or scientists?

Now it's time to write your personal statement using your notes. It's best to draft it on a computer, and remember to save it regularly.

You can copy and paste it into your UCAS application when you're happy with it.

Personal statement structure

While there's no set template for a personal statement, you may find it useful to follow this personal statement structure when you decide what to put in your statement.

What to include in a personal statement

  • Reasons for choosing this subject(s)
  • Current studies and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
  • Experiences and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
  • Interests and responsibilities and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
  • Your future after university
  • Summary including why you'll make a great student

Further tips for a good UCAS personal statement

  • Use information on university websites and the UCAS website. This often includes the skills and qualities universities are looking for in applicants
  • Ask friends, family and teachers to remind you of activities you've participated in. They might remember your successes better than you do
  • Don’t include lists in your application, like a list of all your hobbies. Focus on 1 or 2 points and talk about them in depth to show their relevance to your application
  • Explain and evidence everything. It’s easy to say you have a skill, but it's better to demonstrate it with an example of when and how you’ve used it
  • Avoid clichéd lines such as ‘I've always wanted to be a teacher’ as it says nothing about your motivations or experiences
  • If you’re applying for a joint degree or different subjects, give equal time to each area and try to find common aspects that show their similarities
  • Never lie or plagiarise another statement – you'll be caught and it could result in your application being automatically rejected
  • Proofread your personal statement by reading it out loud and ask friends, family or a teacher to check it for you

Sign up to our personal statement hub

Watch videos, get top tips and download our help sheets – that's what our personal statement hub is for. It's for you to write your story, so you can show your strengths, ideas and passion to your chosen universities.

You'll also be able send us your draft, so you can get feedback and feel confident about what you've written.

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How To Write A Personal Statement For Psychology

Writing a personal statement for a psychology course in the UK can be a daunting task. Your personal statement is an opportunity to highlight your achievements, experiences, and goals, and to showcase your fit for a specific programme or institution.

It is an important part of your application and can be the deciding factor in whether or not you are accepted. 

Many students want to study psychology in the UK since it has one of the best universities in the world. Also, many international students are applying to UK universities every year. In total, around 60000 students study psychology in the UK.

In this blog post, we will provide tips and guidelines on how to write a compelling personal statement for a psychology degree and university. We will also discuss common mistakes to avoid and give some examples to help you get started preparing for your university application.

What is a personal statement for psychology?

A personal statement for psychology is a written document that is typically submitted as part of a UCAS application in the UK.

It is an opportunity for you to show your unique background, experiences, how strong the secondary school education you have, and your interests, and to explain how these have prepared you for a career in psychology.

In your personal statement, you should highlight your passion for psychology and your goals for the future. This part is very important for admission tutors at universities.

You should also write about a relevant research project or work experience, as well as any relevant coursework or extracurricular activities. 

However, the personal statement for psychology needs to be a very well-written and thoughtful reflection of your strengths and goals and should demonstrate your readiness to pursue a degree in psychology.

Recommended guides:

  • How To Write A Dentistry Personal Statement
  • How to Write a Personal Statement for a Masters Degree
  • How to Write a Personal Statement for a PhD
  • UCAS Personal Statement:
  • Tips for Personal Statement for the University
  • How to Write a Personal Statement That Stands Out

What makes a good personal statement for psychology

Writing a good personal statement for psychology can be intimidating, but this is the most important part of your university application process. You will have only one chance to grab the attention of very detailed admission tutors.

When creating your personal statement for psychology, it’s essential to focus on your passion and demonstrate your desire to pursue an undergraduate degree in psychology. To make your application stand out, be specific and provide concrete examples of your experiences and accomplishments.

It’s also essential to use a clear and concise writing style, avoiding jargon – this is something that is not appropriate for university admission tutors. And don’t forget to carefully edit and proofread your statement to ensure it’s error-free and presents a polished, professional image.

Finally, make sure to tailor your statement to the specific psychology programme applying for. Since you will study Psychology, you can choose from many programmes. See the list below. 

Consider the values and goals of the programme, and explain how your experiences and interests align with these. Asking a friend or family member to review your statement before submitting it can also be helpful. Also, you can hire a professional writer to proofread your application.

Check out our UCAS-specific guide: Perfect your application with these useful guides.

  • UCAS Reference Letter
  • UCAS Tariff Points Table: How does it work [Example table]
  • UCAS Application: Process and Deadlines Explained in Details
  • UCAS Extra 2023: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide
  •   UCAS Clearing
  • UCAS Application Process for International Students  

How to structure a psychology personal statement

Well-written psychology personal statements increase your chances of getting a place on your desired course and help you stand out from other applicants.

Learning what to include and how to structure your psychology personal statement can improve its quality. As a general framework for your psychology personal statement, we have included some steps below.

Research before starting writing 

Ensure that you are familiar with any specific guidelines or information that needs to be included in your psychology personal statement.

For example, formatting advice, examples of the kind of experience that would be relevant to mention, or what they are looking for in candidates may be included. Your writing can be guided and informed by this information.

Outline ideas on paper 

Prepare a brief outline of what you want to discuss in your psychology personal statement. An introduction to yourself, your experiences (shown in an example), your knowledge, research projects (if you have it), important skills, and why you are interested in this particular course might be included.

The outline can help you plan the structure and content of your personal statement.

Write an amazing personal statement introduction

You will have the first opportunity to demonstrate to admission tutors why you are the best candidate for a psychology course during your introduction.

Stand out while staying on topic by highlighting what makes you unique in terms of your skill sets, experience, and passions.

Engage Tutors with your statement

The opening sentences of your personal statement are crucial in making an impact on admission tutors. To capture their attention and interest, try starting with punchy, short, and relevant sentences that stand out and create a smooth flow for the reader.

Experiences, skills, and interests in psychology

A personal statement is much more than a representation of yourself. It emphasises why the psychology course is appropriate for you.

Highlight to university members why you’re interested in psychology and what abilities you’ll bring to your studies to achieve.

Always back up your views with real-world examples from your own life, whether it’s a personal experience, something you witnessed secondhand, or something you read about that inspired you to pursue this job.

Make a clear conclusion

An excellent conclusion to your psychology personal statement , like the start, may create a lasting influence on the tutors . Try to cover all of the essential arguments you’ve raised in a clear, succinct manner. Show why you want to study a specific course at a university.

Stick to the subject and avoid using fluffy, long boring sentences. Make sure you leave the admission tutor in a good, enthusiastic tone so that they end your statement with a positive view.

Check to spell and proofread errors

Before you submit your UCAS personal statement , be sure to thoroughly proofread it for any grammar or spelling errors. Reading it out loud or having someone else read it for you can help catch mistakes.

Keep in mind that a successful psychology personal statement is clear , informative , and personal , so avoid using overly long sentences and aim for a professional yet energetic tone.

Highly recommended to read:

  • Applying To Medicine in the UK
  • Writing a Winning Medical Personal Statement

Tips for writing your psychology personal statement

1. start early.

Writing a psychology personal statement is a time-consuming process if the writing is not your “thing”, so it’s essential to start early . This will allow you to brainstorm ideas, gather materials, and revise your statement multiple times before submitting it.

2. Understand the Purpose of the Personal Statement

Before you begin writing your personal statement for the UCAS application , it’s important to understand the purpose of the statement. A personal statement for psychology university should:

  • Explain your motivations for pursuing a degree in psychology
  • Describe your research interests and career goals
  • Highlight your relevant experiences and achievements
  • Demonstrate your fit for the subject and school you are applying to

3. Follow the Prompt

Most programmes will provide a prompt or guidelines for creating your psychology personal statement. It’s important to follow these guidelines closely and address all of the points requested in the prompt. If the programme doesn’t provide a prompt, you can use the list above as a general guide.

4. Be Specific and Personal

A personal statement should be specific and personal. Avoid vague or general statements, and focus on specific experiences, A-levels, subjects, achievements, and goals.

Use concrete examples to illustrate your points and help the reader understand your motivations and interests.

5. Use a Clear and Cohesive Structure

Psychology personal statement should be well-organised and easy to follow. Use a clear and cohesive structure to help the reader understand your story and the progression of your experiences and goals.

Don’t use headings or subheadings to divide your statement into sections. Use transitional phrases to help connect your ideas.

6. Edit and Proofread

Once you have completed a personal statement, it’s important to take the time to edit and proofread your work. Check for typos, grammatical errors, and spelling mistakes, and make sure your statement is clear and concise.

You can ask a trusted friend, family, alumni student, teacher from the same subject or professional tutor to review your application for feedback and suggestions.

7. Avoid Common Mistakes

There are several common mistakes to avoid when writing a personal statement for a psychology course:

  • Failing to follow the prompt or guidelines
  • Being too general or vague
  • Focusing too much on your weaknesses
  • Using overly technical language or jargon
  • Submitting a statement that is too long or too short
  • Not including experience and example

8. Use Examples to Illustrate Your Points

To make your personal statement more engaging and memorable, use examples to illustrate your points. This can help the reader better understand your motivations, interests, and goals, and it can help bring your statement to life.

9. Show, Don’t Tell

When working on your personal statement, use descriptive language and action verbs to show interest, rather than tell, the reader about your experiences and achievements. This can help paint a vivid picture for the reader and make your statement more engaging and memorable.

Advice From Psychology Students

Here is advice from students who have undergraduate degrees.  

I structured it by introducing myself first and then talking about my passion for psychology. I then talked about my experiences and how they adapted me for my studies, before talking about why I wanted to come to USW and study Psychology. – First-year student Keira
If I was to do it all again, I would talk more about my current interest in Psychology and read around this subject, as I think this would have demonstrated initiative and real passion. – First-year student Keira

Here in our Psychology personal statement examples section, we have amazing samples you can use as guidance for yours. Make sure you check them before you start perfecting your application for UCAS .

Psychology Courses to Apply In The UK

A list of psychology degrees available for undergraduate applicants in the UK are:

  • Child psychology
  • Clinical 
  • Developmental 
  • Educational 
  • Experimental 
  • Forensic  
  • Social 
  • Sport 
  • Criminal 

Final Thoughts

Preparing a personal statement for psychology is a vital part of the university application process. It’s your first contact with admission tutors as a future student.

A compelling personal statement focuses on your passion for psychology and your future goals, provides specific examples of your experiences and achievements, and it’s tailored to the specific course you are applying for. 

With these tips and guidelines in mind, you can start preparing for an application that will increase your chances of getting accepted.

Most universities in the UK recommend that a personal statement for psychology be around 4,000 characters or 47 text lines long.

In your personal statement, you should include your passion for psychology and your future goals, any relevant research, coursework, or extracurricular activities, and how these experiences have prepared you for a career.

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Psychology and criminology personal statement example 1.

The golden question seems to be why human beings behave the way that they do – a simple question yet a question that millions have failed to answer. Before taking Psychology as an A level, naivety allowed me to believe that the answer to this question was seemingly transparent.

Visiting places such as Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany and the site of the World Trade Centre in the United States really made me contemplate about what leads people to take such drastic measures, could it be that there was something mentally wrong with them or can the feeling of hatred really be that strong. This is why I aspire to have a career in Psychology. Whilst applying for college, I made the decision to take Psychology as an A level simply out of curiosity; shortly after beginning my course I knew that two years would not be enough to satisfy my desire to comprehend this subject and the constant feeling that I have so much more to learn excites me.

As a child, I grew up with family members’ suffering from anorexia, bi polar and dementia and now understanding what these illnesses really are and how they affect people has allowed me to empathise with said family members. Psychology has altered the way that I interpret people’s actions and made me understand that there is much more to a simple action than what appears on the surface. Reading case studies during lectures, through my own research and reading books such as ‘The man who thought his wife was a hat’ has intensified my desire for examining and understanding people’s behaviour.

As part of my A level Psychology course I conducted an experiment on the matching hypothesis and thoroughly enjoyed it. I feel it provided valuable experience in to planning, conducting, and analysing experiments which I believe will be extremely beneficial to me throughout university.

Alongside Psychology, I also wish to study Criminology at university as a joint honours degree. Studying sociology has enhanced my understanding of the society that we live in and how it functions and changes over time.

An important part of my Sociology course is looking at Crime and Deviance and this is what sparked my fascination in to the world of the criminal mind and what lead them down that path, whether it be pre-determined through their genes or through their socialisation and upbringing. Looking at different sociological theories as to why people commit crime fascinates me and studying Sociology has given me an insight in to how this may occur. I particularly enjoy taking examples of behaviour and interpreting them from different sociological perspectives.

Due to my multi-cultural upbringing and I am able to relate to people from all walks of life. Furthermore thanks to my upbringing, I speak four languages which I believe is advantageous as I can communicate and associate with those of many different races. Travelling is something that I am very passionate about and one day I hope to see the world.

I have been fortunate enough to have travelled to many different countries growing up and learning the history of other cultures, as well as seeing how they live is enthralling. I see myself as a charitable person and over a number of years I have organised many different events for charities such as Children in Need, UNICEF and Comic Relief. I am also currently enrolled in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme which I believe will be challenging but something that I look forward to completing.

I look forward to furthering my education at university and beginning my path to the career that I crave to pursue. I feel that the course I have chosen will broaden my knowledge in to this exciting field of study and one day hope to contribute to it.

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How to Write a Psychology Personal Statement Worthy of Oxbridge!

This blog leads you through some of U2’s Oxford and Cambridge-educated Psychology graduates’ tips for building content for, writing and structuring your Psychology personal statement. Most University level Psychology courses do not require that students have taken Psychology at A-level or IB (in fact, some professors advise that students don’t take it, because the A-Level/ IB syllabus is so different from what you learn at University). So, how do you demonstrate your aptitude for the course at university level? Whether you have studied Psychology at school, or are starting afresh, this blog will teach you how to ensure your Psychology personal statement stands out to interviewers for the top UK universities.

A brain MRI scan with a psychology degree hat on

Tips for your Psychology Personal Statement

Few students will have written anything like a UCAS personal statement before - an approximate side of A4 on what exactly you have to offer. For some general tips on how to write a high-level and original personal statement, check out our blog on 10 Top Tips for Writing a Standout Oxbridge Personal Statement .

Your personal statement should integrate your personal interests, subject knowledge and extracurricular experience. For Psychology, we suggest focusing on three main areas: (1) highlight your personal interest in psychology and link this more explicitly to the range of ways you have explored the subject; (2) emphasise your academic abilities and how these will ensure you suit the course e.g. You may mention your mathematical/ scientific abilities and how this complements/ facilitates your interest in empirically studying human behaviour; (3) discuss extra-curricular activities and how these also relate to your subject interest. E.g. Essay competitions, projects, lectures etc. We have provided guidance on each of the three key points below, how to weave them together and structure your personal statement. Take heed and you should have all the tools you need for writing a standout Psychology personal statement!

(1) Highlight your personal interest in psychology and link this more explicitly to the range of ways you have explored the subject

If you have an initial interest in Psychology, but have not had a chance to explore it in-depth, or beyond the school syllabus, this should be the first step. Do not regurgitate your school syllabus. You’ll need to read and research the subject, refining your interests and building evidence of your wider exploration e.g. through reading books, articles and scientific research papers.

Ideas to direct your wider subject exploration:

One way of developing an early understanding of key aspects of Psychology is to briefly look at the compulsory modules of the courses that interest you and gain an initial overview of key themes/ topics through reading and research. E.g. The undergraduate psychology course at Oxford University covers: Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Neuroscience, so you could try to gain a quick appreciation of each module through research. Cambridge also provide a useful A-Z of key topics in Psychology.

After an initial introduction into broad areas of psychology and what they involve, focus in. Which areas pique your interest most? Keep a file with notes on each topic, read articles to extend your knowledge, and remember to relate concepts to your personal experience (e.g. examples from everyday life, real-world applications of concepts) so you don’t end up turning your personal statement into an essay. Why does [Insert topic] make you want to study Psychology at degree level? What catalysed your interest in [Insert topic]? Can you think of examples in your everyday life that relate? :

E.g. Following some research, you may find you are interested in Social Psychology, in particular group identity. What interests you about it? You may have read about ‘outgroup homogeneity’: the failure to see differences between members of out-group. Can you think of examples in your everyday experience? E.g. Racial prejudice?

Conversely, you may have started with thinking about racial prejudice, if that is something you are particularly passionate about, and that could have led you to research the psychology behind it, which could have brought you to Outgroup homogeneity. Either method is great. When it comes to writing your personal statement, it can be best to start with the personal experience/ interest and mention how this spurred you on to the academic research/ how your interest deepened with wider exploration.

Psychology Personal Statement Reading Recommendations

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Oliver Saks: This book provides case histories of patients who have suffered a range of neurological disorders. E.g. Patients who have lost their memories, patients with violent tics, those with disabilities, but who are mathematical geniuses.

Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman : Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureate, Kahneman, developed ‘Prospect theory’, a theory of the psychology of choice, which has been central to the relatively new field of behavioural economics. The book provides a good overview of a variety of key topics and is particularly useful for those with a penchant for economics (thinking about interdisciplinarity and how your subjects of interest link is always great for your personal statement), or for those simply interested in real-world applications of theories. Try to think of examples from your everyday life e.g. How decision making can be influenced by advertising and product placement.

Bad Science - Ben Goldachre: Dr Ben Goldacre is the author of the Bad Science column in the Guardian. This humorous book should encourage you to critically appraise articles that you read and stimulate a broader discussion on subjectivity/objectivity and empiricism in psychological research. Humans introduce bias into all research - e.g. Look into the spurious findings of fMRI research when researchers do not adequately account for ‘noise’ in the data.

The Memory Illusion – Dr Julia Shaw: Forensic psychologist and memory specialist, Dr Julia Shaw, uses the latest research to show the many ways in which our brains can be led astray by memory. Learn about how errors in reconstructing memory reflect inherent biases. If you would like to learn more about memory, check out our co-curricular division, Minds Underground™’s Mind-Enhancing Articles for Psychology, where our Oxbridge psychologists examine the role of memory and other key psychology topics/ questions.

Psychology Personal Statement Reading Suggestions

Also try to read some scientific papers and start thinking critically about them, and stay updated on developments in psychology and psychology in the news. E.g. Through reading The New Scientist - Psychology News , Neuroscience News , Naked Scientist Psychology articles & podcasts, or the Royal Society of Psychology research articles, podcasts and blog posts.

(2) Emphasise your academic abilities and how these will ensure you suit the Psychology course

Throughout your personal statement, you should demonstrate how you have built skills in preparation for university and for studying Psychology . To begin preparation, brainstorm your academic abilities and skills, and how these ensure you will suit the course/s you are applying for. Extensively research your top university choices, and see if they have a page dedicated to what they want from applicants. Fill a table as in the example below to help you relate your skills to the study of Psychology.

A table to show reasons why you want to study Psychology at university

(3) Discuss extra-curricular activities and how these relate to your subject interests

Many students mistake “extra-curricular activities” for non-subject-related activities such as sport, art, or music. Whilst you can mention these at the end of your personal statement, you are much better off mentioning co-curriculars that directly link to your subject, especially if applying to Oxford or Cambridge (non-academic activities should be 2-3 lines maximum to round-off your personal statement in this case).

If you can’t think of co-curricular activities to mention, now is the time to start finding opportunities to take part in! Here are some ideas:

Psychology Essay Competitions

Minds Underground hosts a Psychology Essay Competition each year. This year, the competition includes a Psychology Research Proposal Challenge, which is perfect for demonstrating independent research & initiative, and will encourage you to learn about experimental design, data collection, handling and analysis.

Also check out Oxford and Cambridge-run essay competitions e.g. Newnham College runs a Psychological & Behavioural Sciences competition each year.

Research Projects

You could task yourself with curating your own independent research project to mention on your personal statement.

3 Example Psychology Projects:

Investigating the effects of colour, word type, or other non-semantic factors on memory/reaction time/false memory recall of word lists

Influence of age/gender/multilingualism or any number of other factors on memory, number & word processing, any easily quantifiable metric.

An investigation into behavioural economics in the style of Kahneman & Tversky, looking at Type 1 & 2 decision making and how this can be influenced, for example, by advertising and product placement.

If you are looking to undertake a project under the tutelage of a Psychology subject expert, we also run specialised guided research projects through Minds Underground, usually a month in duration, with weekly project tutorial sessions (these are paid). E.g. “A Psychology or Medicine Project with a Research Associate for the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the Oxford University Hospital Trust (NHS)” or “Psychiatrists & Pharmaceuticals: Alzheimer’s Research Project” with Psychology & Philosophy Oxford graduate, Georgia, who is studying for an MSc in Child and Adolescent Mental Health at UCL.

The aim is to combine teaching of high-level subject-specific content with exposure to real-world applications of these concepts, giving you the opportunity to undertake a project that is both useful for a university application and potential future career. The projects are great to mention on personal statements, and make impressive talking points at interview, particularly for top UK universities such as Oxbridge (our project hosts are all Oxbridge-educated), who favour applicants with an interest in scientific research. 

Societies, Summer Schools & Lectures/ Talks

 Are you part of your school’s Psychology Society ? If the school doesn’t have one, could you start one up? Or if they have a STEM society, could you introduce a Psychology element or invite speakers for lectures?

We host a fantastic Psychology Summer School for university applicants, hosted by our team of Psychology Oxbridge graduates. The weekly sessions, running from July to September, will provide a taster of University level Psychology, to provide material which students can write about in personal statements, an discuss during their interviews

There are a plethora of online lectures and talks for you to access online - E.g. Gresham College Psychology lectures, or Ted Talks on Psychology

Oxbridge Psychology Personal Statement Topic Ideas

Additional Psychology Personal Statement Advice for those applying to Oxbridge: Oxford, Cambridge

Applying to leading courses like Cambridge's Psychological and Behavioural Sciences or Oxford's Experimental Psychology course requires a tailored approach in your personal statement. Here's how you can make your statement stand out for these Oxbridge courses, compared to non-Oxbridge programmes:

Research-Centric Focus:

Highlight your interest in research from the very beginning. Discuss specific research projects you've been involved in or research findings that have fascinated you.

Look into the cutting-edge research conducted at Cambridge or Oxford and see if anything aligns with your academic interests.

Interdisciplinary Connections:

Emphasise your readiness to explore the interdisciplinary aspects of psychology. These Oxbridge courses often connect psychology with other fields. Mention your interest in related subjects such as neuroscience, biology, or even philosophy, if relevant.

Discuss how these interdisciplinary connections will enrich your understanding of psychology and your research capabilities.

Critical Thinking and Independent Study:

Both Cambridge and Oxford value independent learning and critical thinking. Share your experiences with independent research, coursework, or self-study that demonstrate your ability to think critically and engage deeply with psychology.

Specific Course Features:

Relate some of your content to the unique features of the course at either Cambridge or Oxford. For example, Cambridge's Psychological and Behavioural Sciences course includes a multidisciplinary approach to understanding human behaviour. Oxford's Experimental Psychology course focuses on research design and data analysis.

Explain how these aspects align with your academic goals and career aspirations.

Use of Research Methods:

Try to demonstrate your familiarity with research methods and data analysis tools, as these are central to both courses. Highlight any coursework or projects that have developed your skills in these areas.

Looking Beyond the Classroom:

Mention your involvement in psychology-related co-curricular activities, such as higher level topic areas, clubs, volunteer work, or internships, to demonstrate your dedication to the field beyond academic requirements.

You could seek guidance from your teachers or one of U2’s Oxbridge Psychology tutors, who are familiar with the specific requirements and expectations of Oxbridge courses. They can provide invaluable insights and help you refine your personal statement. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.

Next Steps: Drafting & Structuring Your Psychology Personal Statement

Try to narrow your interests down to 2 or 3 topic areas which you can use as overarching themes for your personal statement, e.g. (1) Theories of Mind, of Consciousness, (2) Psychology & Gender, (3) Social Psychology - Group Identity.

Ensure you can address these themes in depth. Have a range of resources to draw from e.g. a scientific paper, a book, research you undertook as part of an essay competition.

Ensure a strong narrative , including linking of concepts between key sections.

Demonstrate personal critical analysis to show your engagement and interest in the subject.

Example Psychology Personal Statement Structure

Aim for around four main paragraphs:

1st paragraph (introductory): What is your motivation to study Psychology? Be specific: what do you want to explore at university? What is distinctive about studying Psychology that makes it worthwhile? Ensure you talk about what motivates your study of the subject now, not a catalyst from your childhood as the interviewer will find it clichéd and less relevant.

2nd paragraph: Explore your interest in [Insert topic] through [Insert activity: e.g. Summer School]. Which of your abilities did this highlight? Link the topic to an interest in [Insert research form: An experiment, article etc.]. Link this to [Insert another activity e.g. a Cambridge lecture on X].

3rd paragraph: Link to paragraph two. This paragraph can follow the same format, but deal with a different topic/ theme.

4th paragraph: Mention extra-curricular activities that don’t relate to your subject interests really briefly (e.g., music, volunteering, anything else of relevance) and demonstrate how these have built skills in preparation for university and for studying Psychology.

You could mention your other A-Level/ IB subjects, perhaps describing how they have enhanced your study of Psychology. 

You could mention any prizes or roles of responsibility which you have had at school, including any clubs that you might organise, such as the school newspaper or student council.

It can be useful to conclude your personal statement by returning to your aptitude for studying the subject in a final few lines . Which core skills do you possess which will equip you to excel at degree level? It’s important to strike a balance between enthusiasm for the subject and evidence of skills.

Example Successful Psychology Personal Statement

Below, we have included an example successful Cambridge Psychology personal statement, written by one of our 1st Class Cambridge PBS tutors. N.B. The statement is by no means perfect, but should provide an exemplar for how to weave your academic interests and co-curricular endeavours into your statement.

Over 100 trillion synapses connect to form neural networks in the brain – an engine so close to home yet more enigmatic than some of the cosmos. How can the very matter we use to think and learn unlock mysteries of the universe, yet not know exactly how it stores memories? It is these existential questions that fuel my fascination for studying the delicate mechanisms of our minds. Year one of my A-levels, what started as curiosity became increasingly interesting to me. Psychology lessons were deeply thought-provoking, particularly when biological and cognitive psychology were the topics of study. The biology behind the metaphysics of consciousness and perception has since captured me, especially when considering neurological disorders. Fascinated by these phenomena, last year I attended a lecture by Baland Jalal; he discussed his own research into a cure for sleep paralysis, as well as demonstrating his enthusiasm for the field which was a perfect cross-section of various disciplines that I love. To further explore this new intricate field of interest, I read “The New Science of Consciousness” by Paul Nunez; this book offered me a profound insight into the philosophy and “hard problems” that this science faces; whilst explanations for Alzheimer’s and Free Will are difficult to retrieve, the questions we need to ask are even harder to formulate. Cures for neurodegenerative diseases are currently beyond our grasp, which I believe will be changed with further years of research that I would be honoured to be a part of. The challenges and speculations associated with understanding the brain and our behaviour draws me into the subject as I enjoy combining abstract and logical thinking to decipher problems. Both studying logical programming in Computer Science and my EPQ (an investigation into creating a handmade Wilson Cloud Chamber) showcase the interface of these types of thinking. Self-teaching has been a critical aspect of advancing my knowledge of Neuropsychology as at A-Level there is no depth into more peculiar cases (many of which I discovered after reading “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” by Oliver Sacks) such as Anton-Babinski Syndrome – a rare symptom of brain damage that causes people to be “cortically blind”, yet inexplicably deny their blindness. Using my own learning techniques, in Year 12 I helped tutor students in Year 7 physics classes. The significant change in learning style developed my methods of tutoring, teaching me to work with and teach peers of varying ages and enhance my ability to describe difficult concepts in an appropriate and understandable way. During year 12 I was accepted onto the Sutton Trust US Programme – a competitive Fulbright programme for high-achieving state-school students. I was one of 150 students picked from 1000+ applicants. Learning to deal with additional, international examinations and workload alongside school, being the guitarist in a band, and rock-climbing has been essential for my personal development, allowing me to handle substantial pressure. I was awarded a visit to Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s graduate laboratories where I saw leading research into many disciplines of science. This year however I decided that the more specialised curriculum offered in the UK was better suited for me – nevertheless, I am still an alum and volunteer for the programme and was chosen to be an advisor at USA college day this year. I gave individual advice to hundreds of young people, ensuring they had information and advice they needed to pursue undergraduate studies ideal for them. As a member of my school’s Student Wellbeing team, it is evident to anyone that a distinct and recurring interest of mine is to help people. I believe this perfectly ties into my desire to research the brain, as I am driven to be part of the research that will prevent neurodegeneration, aid mental illness and answer the fundamental questions that make us human. As written by Paul Nunez, “The phenomenon of consciousness is the major unsolved challenge of our age”.

Finally, remember not to start thinking about your personal statement too late! The content building part is by far the most important - without well-thought out content and a wide range of evidence for your independent exploration, you will not be able to write an engaging personal statement. The writing part will be easy if you have lots of exciting content to draw from.

Best of luck!

Looking for a Personal Statement Tutor or Support For Your Wider Psychology Application?

Psychology personal statement tutoring.

U2’s Oxbridge-educated mentors have a close insight into what admissions tutors like to see in a Psychology personal statement, and can help students to convey their skills, motivations, and long term goals, in order to stand out from other applicants. The statement should be the candidates own work, but our mentors will provide direction and guide you through the process of content building and writing. We offer offline drafting as well as tuition sessions.

Oxbridge Psychology Tutoring

We have a large team of Oxbridge-educated Psychology mentors including 1st Class, Master’s and PhD level graduates, who support students throughout the process, including personal statement, admissions test and interview preparation.

The Process:

1) We suggest an Oxbridge Psychology graduate as a mentor and send their full CV for review. Our mentors are deeply familiar with the admissions process to study Psychology at the University of Oxford and Cambridge, and are well-placed to guide you through personal statement curation and the interview process. We may suggest a range of application tutors to choose from with slightly differing rates depending on qualifications and level of experience.

2) We typically suggest beginning with a 1.5 hour diagnostic session , where the mentor will informally assess the student’s current performance level for application. Following this, we issue a report with feedback, and structure a plan to best prepare.

3) U2’s approach for regular Psychology application sessions: The main focus of tutorial sessions will be to explore material that can be discussed in the personal statement and at interview - this may sometimes stretch from A-Level standard to First Year Undergraduate. Mentors ensure each student refines their interests within Psychology, and is exposed to a range of key themes and topics. Throughout there will be a focus on the experimental side of psychology, by centring the course on real studies, and discussing the techniques and limitations involved in psychological experiments. Together, we build a case for the student, solidifying the stance and direction they will take during interview.

Frequency of sessions can be decided between student and mentor. Students can take either ad hoc sessions, or we structure a full programme for preparation, which may include further co-curricular opportunities such as our research projects , Psychology summer school and Oxbridge mock interview days . Honing the skills necessary to succeed for Oxbridge ideally requires long-term preparation and mentoring presents a wonderful opportunity to learn from some of the very best Oxbridge has produced.

Sessions from £75/h + VAT.

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The University Guys

UCAS Personal Statement and Examples

What is the ucas personal statement .

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) Personal Statement is the main essay for your application to colleges and universities in Great Britain. UCAS gives a nice explanation here , but in short, this is your chance to stand out against the crowd and show your knowledge and enthusiasm for your chosen area of study.

You’ve got 4,000 characters and 47 line limit to show colleges what (ideally) gets you out of bed in the morning. How long is that, really? Use your “word count” tool in Google or Word docs to check as you go along, but 4,000 characters is roughly 500 words or one page.


Think they’re the same? Think again. Here are some key differences between the UCAS and the US Personal Statement:

When you apply to UK schools, you’re applying to one particular degree program, which you’ll study for all, or almost all, your time at university. Your UCAS personal statement should focus less on cool/fun/quirky aspects of yourself and more on how you’ve prepared for your particular area of study.

The UCAS Personal Statement will be read by someone looking for proof that you are academically capable of studying that subject for your entire degree. In some cases, it might be an actual professor reading your essay.

You’ll only write one personal statement, which will be sent to all the universities you’re applying to, and it’s unlikely you’ll be sending any additional (supplemental) essays. Your essay needs to explain why you enjoy and are good at this subject, without reference to any particular university or type of university.

Any extracurricular activities that are NOT connected to the subject you’re applying for are mostly irrelevant, unless they illustrate relevant points about your study skills or attributes: for example, having a job outside of school shows time-management and people skills, or leading a sports team shows leadership and responsibility.

Your personal statement will mostly focus on what you’ve done at high school, in class, and often in preparation for external exams. 80-90% of the content will be academic in nature.


This may be obvious, but the first step to a great UCAS Personal Statement is to choose the subject you’re applying for. This choice will be consistent across the (up to) five course choices you have. Often, when students struggle with a UCAS personal statement, it’s because they are trying to make the statement work for a couple of different subjects. With a clear focus on one subject, the essay can do the job it is supposed to do. Keep in mind you’re limited to 47 lines or 4000 characters, so this has to be concise and make efficient use of words.

To work out what information to include, my favourite brainstorming activity is the ‘Courtroom Exercise’. Here’s how it works:

The Courtroom Exercise

Imagine you’re prosecuting a case in court, and the case is that should be admitted to a university to study the subject you’ve chosen. You have to present your case to the judge, in a 47 line or 4,000 character statement. The judge won’t accept platitudes or points made without evidence–she needs to see evidence. What examples will you present in your statement?

In a good statement, you’ll make an opening and a closing point.

To open your argument, can you sum up in one sentence why you wish to study this subject? Can you remember where your interest in that subject began? Do you have a story to tell that will engage the reader about your interest in that subject?

Next, you’ll present a number of pieces of evidence, laying out in detail why you’re a good match for this subject. What activities have you done that prove you can study this subject at university?

Most likely, you’ll start with a class you took, a project you worked on, an internship you had, or a relevant extra-curricular activity you enjoyed. For each activity you discuss, structure a paragraph on each using the ABC approach:

A: What is the A ctivity?

B: How did it B enefit you as a potential student for this degree course?

C: Link the benefit to the skills needed to be successful on this C ourse.

With three or four paragraphs like these, each of about 9 or 10 lines, and you should have the bulk of your statement done. Typically two of these will be about classes you have taken at school, and two about relevant activities outside of school.

In the last paragraph, you need to demonstrate wider skills that you have, which you can probably do from your extracurricular activities. How could you demonstrate your time management, your ability to collaborate, or your creativity? Briefly list a few extracurricular activities you’ve taken part in and identify the relevant skills that are transferable to university study.

Finally, close your argument in a way that doesn’t repeat what you’ve already shared. Case closed!


What if I’m not sure what I want to study? Should I still apply? 

There are a number of broader programs available at UK universities (sometimes called Liberal Arts or Flexible Combined Honours). However,  you should still showcase two or three academic areas of interest. If you are looking for a broader range of subjects to study and can’t choose one, then the UK might not be the best fit for you.

What if I haven’t done much, academically or via extracurriculars, to demonstrate that I’ll be able to complete the coursework for my degree? Should I still apply?

You certainly can, but you will need to be realistic about the strength of your application as a result. The most selective universities will want to see this evidence, but less selective ones will be more willing to account for your potential to grow in addition to what you’ve already achieved. You could also consider applying for a Foundation course or a ‘Year 0’ course, where you have an additional year pre-university to enable you to develop this range of evidence.

If I’m not accepted into a particular major, can I be accepted into a different major?

It’s important to understand that we are not talking about a ‘major,’ as what you are accepted into is one entire course of study. Some universities may make you an ‘alternative offer’ for a similar but perhaps less popular course (for example you applied for Business but instead they offer you a place for Business with a Language).At others, you can indicate post-application that you would like to be considered for related courses. However, it’s not going to be possible to switch between two completely unrelated academic areas.

What other information is included in my application? Will they see my extracurricular activities, for example? Is there an Additional Information section where I can include more context on what I’ve done in high school?

The application is very brief: the personal statement is where you put all the information. UCAS does not include an activities section or space for any other writing. The 47 lines are all you have. Some universities might accept information if there are particularly important extenuating circumstances that must be conveyed. This can be done via email, but typically, they don’t want to see more than the UCAS statement and your school’s reference provides.

Now, let’s take a look at some of my favourite UCAS personal statement examples with some analysis of why I think these are great.


When I was ten, I saw a documentary on Chemistry that really fascinated me. Narrated by British theoretical physicist Jim Al-Khalili, it explained how the first elements were discovered and how Chemistry was born out of alchemy. I became fascinated with Chemistry and have remained so ever since. I love the subject because it has very theoretical components, for example quantum Chemistry, while also having huge practical applications.

In this introduction, the student shows where his interest in Chemistry comes from. Adding some additional academic detail (in this case, the name of the scientist) helps guide the reader into more specific information on why this subject is interesting to him.

This aspect of Chemistry is important to me. I have, for example, used machine learning to differentiate between approved and experimental drugs. On the first run, using drug molecules from the website Drug Bank, I calculated some molecular descriptors for them. I started with a simple logistic regression model and was shocked to find that it had apparently classified almost all molecules correctly. This result couldn’t be right; it took me nearly a month to find the error. I accidentally normalized the molecular-descriptor data individually, rather than as a combined data set, thereby encoding the label into the input. On a second run, after fixing the error, I used real machine learning libraries. Here I actually got some performance with my new algorithm, which I could compare to professional researchers’ papers. The highest accuracy I ever saw on my screen was 86 percent. The researchers’ result was 85 percent; thanks to more modern machine learning methods, I narrowly beat them. I have also studied Mathematics and Physics at A Level and have been able to dive into areas beyond the A Level syllabus such as complex integration in math and the Schrödinger equation in Physics.

This paragraph outlines a clear case for this student’s aptitude for and interest in Chemistry. He explains in detail how he has explored his intended major, using academic terminology to show us he has studied the subject deeply. Knowing an admissions reader is looking for evidence that this student has a talent for Chemistry, this paragraph gives them the evidence they need to admit him.

Additionally, I have worked on an undergraduate computer science course on MIT Opencourseware, but found that the content followed fixed rules and did not require creativity. At the time I was interested in neural networks and listened to lectures by professor Geoffrey Hinton who serendipitously mentioned his students testing his techniques on ‘Kaggle Competitions’. I quickly got interested and decided to compete on this platform. Kaggle allowed me to measure my machine learning skills against competitors with PhDs or who are professional data scientists at large corporations. With this kind of competition naturally I did not win any prizes, but I worked with the same tools and saw how others gradually perfected a script, something which has helped my A Level studies immensely.

Introducing a new topic, the student again uses academic terminology to show how he has gone beyond the confines of his curriculum to explore the subject at a higher level. In this paragraph, he demonstrates that he has studied university-level Chemistry. Again, this helps the reader to see that this student is capable of studying for a Chemistry degree.

I have been keen to engage in activities beyond the classroom. For example, I have taken part in a range of extracurricular activities, including ballroom dancing, public speaking, trumpet, spoken Mandarin, and tennis, achieving a LAMDA distinction at level four for my public speaking. I have also participated in Kaggle competitions, as I’m extremely interested in machine learning. For example, I have used neural networks to determine the causes of Amazon deforestation from satellite pictures in the ‘Planet: Understanding the Amazon from Space’ competition. I believe that having worked on projects spanning several weeks or even months has allowed me to build a stamina that will be extremely useful when studying at university.

This penultimate paragraph introduces the student’s extracurricular interests, summing them up in a sentence. Those activities that can demonstrate skills that are transferable to the study of Chemistry are given a bit more explanation. The student’s descriptions in each paragraph are very detailed, with lots of specific information about awards, classes and teachers.

What I hope to gain from an undergraduate (and perhaps post-graduate) education in Chemistry is to deepen my knowledge of the subject and potentially have the ability to successfully launch a startup after university. I’m particularly interested in areas such as computational Chemistry and cheminformatics. However, I’m  open to studying other areas in Chemistry, as it is a subject that truly captivates me.

In the conclusion, the student touches on his future plans, using specific terminology that shows his knowledge of Chemistry. This also reveals that he aims to have a career in this field, which many admission readers find appealing as it demonstrates a level of commitment to the subject.


This next statement has to accomplish a number of tasks, given the subject the student is applying for. As a vocational degree, applicants for veterinary medicine are committing to a career as well as a subject to study, so they need to give information demonstrating they understand the reality of a career in this area. It also needs to explain their motivation for this interest, which quite often is demonstrated through work experience (something which is often a condition for entry into these programs). Finally, as this is a highly academic subject to study at university, the author should include a good level of academic terminology and experiences in the statement.

There is nothing more fascinating to me than experiencing animals in the wild, in their natural habitat where their behaviour is about the survival of their species. I was lucky enough to experience this when in Tanzania. While observing animals hunting, I became intrigued by their musculature and inspired to work alongside these animals to help them when they are sick, as a veterinarian.

In an efficient way, the applicant explains her motivation to become a vet, then squeezes in a bit of information about her experience with animals.

As a horse rider and owner for nearly ten years, I have sought opportunities to learn as much as I can about caring for the animal. I helped around the yard with grooming and exercise, bringing horses in and out from the fields, putting on rugs, and mucking out. I have also been working at a small animal vet clinic every other Saturday for over 2.5 years. There, my responsibilities include restocking and sterilising equipment, watching procedures, and helping in consultations. Exposure to different cases has expanded my knowledge of various aspects, such as assisting with an emergency caesarean procedure. Due to a lack of staff on a Saturday, I was put in charge of anaesthesia while the puppies were being revived. I took on this task without hesitation and recorded heart and respiration rate, capillary refill time, and gum colour every five minutes. Other placements following an equine vet, working on a polo farm, and volunteering at a swan sanctuary have also broadened my experience with different species and how each possesses various requirements. During pre-vet summer courses, I was also introduced to farm animals such as pigs, cows, sheep and chicken. I spend some time milking dairy cows and removing clustered dust from chicken feet, as well as tipping sheep in order to inspect their teats.

In this paragraph, she synthesizes personal experience with an academic understanding of vet medicine. She demonstrates that she is committed to animals (helping in the yard, regular Saturday work, assistance with procedures), that she has gained a variety of experiences, and that she understands some of the conditions (caesareans, clustered dust) that vets have to deal with. Note that she also briefly discusses ‘pre-vet summer courses,’ adding credibility to her level of experience.

I have focused on HL Biology and HL Chemistry for my IB Diploma. I was particularly excited to study cell biology and body systems because these subjects allowed me to comprehend how the body works and are applicable to animal body functions. Topics like DNA replication as well as cell transcription and translation have helped me form a fundamental understanding of genetics and protein synthesis, both important topics when looking into hereditary diseases in animals. Learning about chemical reactions made me consider the importance of pharmaceutical aspects of veterinary medicine, such as the production of effective medicine. Vaccines are essential and by learning about the chemical reactions, I f developed a more nuanced understanding about how they are made and work.

Now, the statement turns to academic matters, linking her IB subjects to the university studies she aspires to. She draws out one particular example that makes a clear link between school and university-level study.

I have also written my Extended Essay discussing the consequences of breeding laws in the UK and South Australia in relation to the development of genetic abnormalities in pugs and German shepherds. This topic is important, as the growing brachycephalic aesthetic of pugs is causing them to suffer throughout their lifetime. Pedigree dogs, such as the German shepherd, have a very small gene pool and as a result, hereditary diseases can develop. This becomes an ethical discussion, because allowing German shepherds to suffer is not moral; however, as a breed, they aid the police and thus serve society.

The IB Extended Essay (like an A Level EPQ or a Capstone project) is a great topic to discuss in a personal statement, as these activities are designed to allow students to explore subjects in greater detail.

The first sentence here is a great example of what getting more specific looks like because it engages more directly with what the student is actually writing about in this particular paragraph then it extrapolates a more general point of advice from those specificities.

By choosing to write her Extended Essay on a topic of relevance to veterinary medicine, she has given herself the opportunity to show the varied aspects of veterinary science. This paragraph proves to the reader that this student is capable and motivated to study veterinary medicine.

I have learned that being a veterinarian requires diagnostic skills as well as excellent communication and leadership skills. I understand the importance and ethics of euthanasia decisions, and the sensitivity around discussing it withanimal owners. I have developed teamwork and leadership skills when playing varsity football and basketball for four years. My communication skills have expanded through being a Model U.N. and Global Issues Network member.

This small paragraph on her extracurricular activities links them clearly to her intended area of study, both in terms of related content and necessary skills. From this, the reader gains the impression that this student has a wide range of relevant interests.

When I attend university, I not only hope to become a veterinarian, but also a leader in the field. I would like to research different aspects of veterinary medicine, such as diseases. As a vet, I would like to help work towards the One Health goal; allowing the maintenance of public health security. This affects vets because we are the ones working closely with animals every day.

In the conclusion, she ties things together and looks ahead to her career. By introducing the concept of ‘One Health’, she also shows once again her knowledge of the field she is applying to.


Standing inside a wind tunnel is not something every 17 year old aspires to, but for me the opportunity to do so last year confirmed my long-held desire to become a mechanical engineer.

This introduction is efficient and provides a clear direction for the personal statement. Though it might seem that it should be more detailed, for a student applying to study a course that requires limited extended writing, being this matter-of-fact works fine.

I enjoy the challenge of using the laws of Physics, complemented with Mathematical backing, in the context of everyday life, which helps me to visualise and understand where different topics can be applied. I explored the field of aeronautics, specifically in my work experience with Emirates Aviation University. I explored how engineers apply basic concepts of air resistance and drag when I had the opportunity to experiment with the wind tunnel, which allowed me to identify how different wing shapes behave at diverse air pressures. My interest with robotics has led me to take up a year-long internship with MakersBuilders, where I had the chance to explore physics and maths on a different plane. During my internship I educated young teenagers on a more fundamental stage of building and programming, in particular when we worked on building a small robot and programmed the infra-red sensor in order to create self-sufficient movement. This exposure allowed me to improve my communication and interpersonal skills.

In this paragraph, the student adds evidence to the initial assertion that he enjoys seeing how Physics relates to everyday life. The descriptions of the work experiences he has had not only show his commitment to the subject, but also enable him to bring in some academic content to demonstrate his understanding of engineering and aeronautics.

I’m interested in the mechanics side of Maths such as circular motion and projectiles; even Pure Maths has allowed me to easily see patterns when working and solving problems in Computer Science. During my A Level Maths and Further Maths, I have particularly enjoyed working with partial fractions as they show how reverse methodology can be used to solve addition of fractions, which ranges from simple addition to complex kinematics. ­­­Pure Maths has also enabled me to better understand how 3D modelling works with ­­­the use of volumes of revolution, especially when I learned how to apply the calculations to basic objects like calculating the amount of water in a bottle or the volume of a pencil.

This paragraph brings in the academic content at school, which is important when applying for a subject such as engineering. This is because the admissions reader needs to be reassured that the student has covered the necessary foundational content to be able to cope with Year 1 of this course.

In my Drone Club I have been able to apply several methods of wing formation, such as the number of blades used during a UAS flight. Drones can be used for purposes such as in Air-sea Rescue or transporting food to low income countries. I have taken on the responsibility of leading and sharing my skills with others, particularly in the Drone Club where I gained the certification to fly drones. In coding club, I participated in the global Google Code competition related to complex, real-life coding, such as a program that allows phones to send commands to another device using Bluetooth. My Cambridge summer course on math and engineering included the origins of a few of the most important equations and ideologies from many mathematicians such as, E=mc2 from Einstein, I also got a head start at understanding matrices and their importance in kinematics. Last summer, I completed a course at UT Dallas on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The course was intuitive and allowed me to understand a different perspective of how robots and AI will replace humans to do complex and labour-intensive activities, customer service, driverless cars and technical support.

In this section, he demonstrates his commitment to the subject through a detailed list of extracurricular activities, all linked to engineering and aeronautics. The detail he gives about each one links to the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in these subjects at university.

I have represented Model UN as a delegate and enjoyed working with others to solve problems. For my Duke of Edinburgh Award, I partook in several activities such as trekking and playing the drums. I enjoy music and I have reached grade 3 for percussion. I have also participated in a range of charitable activities, which include assisting during Ramadan and undertaking fun-runs to raise money for cancer research.

As with the introduction, this is an efficient use of language, sharing a range of activities, each of which has taught him useful skills. The conclusion that follows is similarly efficient and to the point.

I believe that engineering is a discipline that will offer me a chance to make a tangible difference in the world, and I am certain I will enjoy the process of integrating technology with our everyday life.


Applying for a joint honours course presents a particular challenge of making the case that you are interested in the first subject, the second subject and (often overlooked) the combination of the two. In this example, the applicant uses her own academic studies and personal experiences to make her case.

I usually spend my summer breaks in Uttar Pradesh, India working at my grandparents’ NGO which produces bio-fertilizers for the poor. While working, I speak to many of the villagers in the nearby villages like Barokhar and Dharampur and have found out about the various initiatives the Government has taken to improve the production of wheat and rice. I understand the hardships they undergo and speaking to them has shown me the importance of Social Policy and the role the government plays in improving the lives of people and inspired me to pursue my university studies in this field.

In the introduction, this applicant explains where her interlinking experiences come from: she has personal experiences demonstrating how economics impacts the most vulnerable in society. In doing so, she shows the admissions reader that she has a deep interest in this combination and can move on to discussing each subject in turn.

My interest in these areas has been driven by the experiences I had at high school and beyond. I started attending Model United Nations in the 9th grade and have been to many conferences, discussing problems like the water crisis and a lack of sustainability in underdeveloped countries. These topics overlapped with my study of economics and exciting classroom discussions on what was going on how different events would impact economies, for instance how fluctuations in oil prices will affect standards of living. Studying Economics has expanded  my knowledge about how countries are run and how macroeconomic policies shape the everyday experiences of individuals.

Unusually, this applicant does not go straight into her classroom experiences but instead uses one of her extracurricular activities (Model United Nations) in her first paragraph. For students applying for subjects that are not often taught at school (Social Policy in this example), this can be a good idea, as it allows you to bring in material that you have self-studied to explain why you are capable of studying each subject at university. Here, she uses MUN discussions to show she understands some topics in social policy that are impacting the world.

By taking up history as a subject in Grade 11 and 12, I have seen the challenges that people went through in the past, and how different ideas gained momentum in different parts of the world such as the growth of communism in Russia and China and how it spread to different countries during the Cold War. I learned about the different roles that governments played in times of hardships such as that which President Roosevelt’s New Deal played during the Great Depression. From this, I gained analytical skills by scrutinizing how different social, political and economic forces have moulded societies in the past.

In this paragraph, she then takes the nearest possible class to her interest in Social Policy and draws elements from it to add to her case for Social Policy. Taking some elements from her history classes enables her to add some content to this statement, before linking to the topic of economics.

To explore my interest in Economics, I interned at Emirates National Bank of Dubai, one of the largest banks in the Middle East, and also at IBM. At Emirates NBD, I undertook a research project on Cash Management methods in competitor banks and had to present my findings at the end of the internship. I also interned at IBM where I had to analyze market trends and fluctuations in market opportunity in countries in the Middle East and Africa. I had to find relations between GDP and market opportunity and had to analyze how market opportunity could change over the next 5 years with changing geo-political situations. I have also attended Harvard University’s Youth Lead the Change leadership conference where I was taught how to apply leadership skills to solve global problems such as gender inequality and poverty.

Economics is explored again through extracurriculars, with some detail added to the general statement about the activities undertaken during this work experience. Though the level of academics here is a little thin because this student’s high school did not offer any classes in Economics, she does as well as she can to bring in academic content.

I have partaken in many extra-curricular activities which have helped me develop the skills necessary for this course. Being a part of the Press Club at school gave me an opportunity to hone my talent for the written word and gave me a platform to talk about global issues. Volunteering at a local library taught me how to be organized. I developed research and analytical skills by undertaking various research projects at school such as the sector-wide contribution of the Indian economy to the GDP in the previous year. As a member of the Business and Economic Awareness Council at school, I was instrumental in organizing many economics-based events such as the Business Fair and Innovation Mela. Being part of various Face to Faith conferences has provided me with an opportunity to interact with students in Sierra Leone, India and Korea and understand global perspectives on issues like malaria and human trafficking.

The extracurricular activities are revisited here, with the first half of this paragraph showing how the applicant has some transferable skills from her activities that will help her with this course. She then revisits her interest in the course studies, before following up with a closing section that touches on her career goals:

The prospect of pursuing these two subjects is one that I eagerly anticipate and I look forward to meeting the challenge of university. In the future, I wish to become an economist and work at a think tank where I will be able to apply what I have learnt in studying such an exciting course.


This applicant is also a joint-honours applicant, and again is applying for a subject that she has not been able to study at school. Thus, bringing in her own interest and knowledge of both subjects is crucial here.

At the age of four, I remember an argument with my mother: I wanted to wear a pink ballerina dress with heels, made for eight-year-olds, which despite my difficulty in staying upright I was determined to wear. My mother persistently engaged in debate with me about why it was not ok to wear this ensemble in winter. After two hours of patiently explaining to me and listening to my responses she convinced me that I should wear something different, the first time I remember listening to reason. It has always been a natural instinct for me to discuss everything, since in the course of my upbringing I was never given a simple yes or no answer. Thus, when I began studying philosophy, I understood fully my passion for argument and dialogue.

This is an unusual approach to start a UCAS Personal Statement, but it does serve to show how this student approaches the world and why this combination of subjects might work for her. Though it could perhaps be drawn out more explicitly, here she is combining an artistic issue (her clothes) with a philosophical concern (her debate with her mother) to lead the reader into the case she is making for admission into this program.

This was first sparked academically when I was introduced to religious ethics; having a fairly Christian background my view on religion was immature. I never thought too much of the subject as I believed it was just something my grandparents did. However, when opened up to the arguments about god and religion, I was inclined to argue every side. After research and discussion, I was able to form my own view on religion without having to pick a distinctive side to which theory I would support. This is what makes me want to study philosophy: it gives an individual personal revelation towards matters into which they may not have given too much thought to.

There is some good content here that discusses the applicant’s interest in philosophy and her own motivation for this subject, though there is a lack of academic content here.

Alongside this, taking IB Visual Arts HL has opened my artistic views through pushing me out of my comfort zone. Art being a very subjective course, I was forced to choose an opinion which only mattered to me, it had no analytical nor empirical rights or wrongs, it was just my taste in art. From studying the two subjects alongside each other, I found great value, acquiring a certain form of freedom in each individual with their dual focus on personalized opinion and taste in many areas, leading to self- improvement.

In this section, she uses her IB Visual Arts class to explore how her interest in philosophy bleeds into her appreciation of art. Again, we are still awaiting the academic content, but the reader will by now be convinced that the student has a deep level of motivation for this subject. When we consider how rare this combination is, with very few courses for this combination available, the approach to take slightly longer to establish can work.

For this reason, I find the work of Henry Moore fascinating. I am intrigued by his pieces, especially the essence of the ‘Reclining Nude’ model, as the empty holes inflicted on the abstract human body encouraged my enthusiasm for artistic interpretation. This has led me to contemplate the subtlety, complexity and merit of the role of an artist. Developing an art piece is just as complex and refined as writing a novel or developing a theory in Philosophy. For this reason, History of Art conjoins with Philosophy, as the philosophical approach towards an art piece is what adds context to the history as well as purpose behind it.

Finally, we’re given the academic content. Cleverly, the content links both the History of Art and Philosophy together through a discussion of the work of Henry Moore. Finding examples that conjoin the subjects that make up a joint-honours application is a great idea and works well here.

Studying Philosophy has allowed me to apply real life abstractions to my art, as well as to glean a deeper critical analysis of art in its various mediums. My IB Extended Essay examined the 1900s Fauve movement, which made a huge breakthrough in France and Hungary simultaneously. This was the first artistic movement which was truly daring and outgoing with its vivid colours and bold brush strokes. My interest expanded to learning about the Hungarian artists in this movement led by Henri Matisse. Bela Czobel was one of the few who travelled to France to study but returned to Hungary, more specifically Nagybanya, to bestow what he had learned.

Again in this paragraph, the author connects the subjects. Students who are able to undertake a research project in their high school studies (such as the IB Extended Essay here, or the A Level Extended Project or AP Capstone) can describe these in their UCAS personal statements, as this level of research in an area of academic study can enliven and add depth to the writing, as is the case here.

As an international student with a multicultural background, I believe I can adapt to challenging or unfamiliar surroundings with ease. I spent two summers working at a nursery in Hungary as a junior Assistant Teacher, where I demonstrated leadership and teamwork skills that I had previously developed through commitment to sports teams. I was a competitive swimmer for six years and have represented my school internationally as well as holding the school record for 100m backstroke. I was elected Deputy Head of my House, which further reflects my dedication, leadership, teamwork and diligence.

As in the previous examples, this statement gives a good overview of the applicant’s extracurricular activities, with a mention of skills that will be beneficial to her studies at university. She then concludes with a brief final sentence:

I hope to carry these skills with me into my university studies, allowing me to enrich my knowledge and combine my artistic and philosophical interests.


A good range of UK universities now offer courses called ‘Liberal Arts’ (or similar titles such as ‘Flexible Combined Honours’), which allows students to study a broader topic of study–perhaps combining three or four subjects–than is typically available in the UK system.

This presents a challenge in the personal statement, as within the 47 line / 4000 character limit, the applicant will have to show academic interest and knowledge in a range of subjects while also making the case to be admitted for this combined programme of study.

As a child I disliked reading; however, when I was 8, there was one particular book that caught my attention: The Little Prince. From that moment onwards, my love for literature was ignited and I had entered into a whirlwind of fictional worlds. While studying and analysing the classics from The Great Gatsby to Candide, this has exposed me to a variety of novels. My French bilingualism allowed me to study, in great depth, different texts in their original language. This sparked a new passion of mine for poetry, and introduced me to the works of Arthur Rimbaud, who has greatly influenced me. Through both reading and analysing poetry I was able to decipher its meaning. Liberal Arts gives me the opportunity to continue to study a range of texts and authors from different periods in history, as well as related aspects of culture, economy and society.

Here we have a slightly longer than usual opening paragraph, but given the nature of the course being applied for this works well. A personal story segueing from literature to modern languages to history and cultural studies shows that this student has a broad range of interests within the humanities and thus is well-suited to this course of study.

Liberal Arts is a clear choice for me. Coming from the IB International Baccalaureate Diploma programme I have studied a wide range of subjects which has provided me with a breadth of knowledge. In Theatre, I have adapted classics such as Othello by Shakespeare, and playing the role of moreover acting as Desdemona forced me to compartmentalise her complex emotions behind the early-modern English text. Studying History has taught me a number of skills; understanding the reasons behind changes in society, evaluating sources, and considering conflicting interpretations. From my interdisciplinary education I am able to critically analyse the world around me. Through studying Theory of Knowledge, I have developed high quality analysis using key questions and a critical mindset by questioning how and why we think and why. By going beyond the common use of reason, I have been able to deepen greaten my understanding and apply my ways of knowing in all subjects; for example in science I was creative in constructing my experiment (imagination) and used qualitative data (sense perception).

Students who are taking the IB Diploma, with its strictures to retain a broad curriculum, are well-suited to the UK’s Liberal Arts courses, as they have had practice seeing the links between subjects. In this paragraph, the applicant shows how she has done this, linking content from one subject to skills developed in another, and touching on the experience of IB Theory of Knowledge (an interdisciplinary class compulsory for all IB Diploma students) to show how she is able to see how different academic subjects overlap and share some common themes.

Languages have always played an important role in my life. I was immersed into a French nursery even though my parents are not French speakers. I have always cherished the ability to speak another language; it is something I have never taken for granted, and it is how I individualise myself. Being bilingual has allowed me to engage with a different culture. As a result, I am more open minded and have a global outlook. This has fuelled my desire to travel, learn new languages and experience new cultures. This course would provide me with the opportunity to fulfil these desires. Having written my Extended Essay in French on the use of manipulative language used by a particular character from the French classic Dangerous Liaisons I have had to apply my skills of close contextual reading and analysing to sculpt this essay. These skills are perfectly applicable to the critical thinking that is demanded for the course.

Within the humanities, this student has a particular background that makes her stand out, having become fluent in French while having no French background nor living in a French-speaking country. This is worth her exploring to develop her motivation for a broad course of study at university, which she does well here.

Studying the Liberal Arts will allow me to further my knowledge in a variety of fields whilst living independently and meeting people from different backgrounds. The flexible skills I would achieve from obtaining a liberal arts degree I believe would make me more desirable for future employment. I would thrive in this environment due to my self discipline and determination. During my school holidays I have undertaken working in a hotel as a chambermaid and this has made me appreciate the service sector in society and has taught me to work cohesively with others in an unfamiliar environment. I also took part in a creative writing course held at Keats House, where I learnt about romanticism. My commitment to extracurricular activities such as varsity football and basketball has shown me the importance of sportsmanship and camaraderie, while GIN (Global Issue Networking) has informed me of the values of community and the importance for charitable organisations.

The extracurricular paragraph here draws out a range of skills the student will apply to this course. Knowing that taking a broader range of subjects at a UK university requires excellent organizational skills, the student takes time to explain how she can meet these, perhaps going into slightly more detail than would be necessary for a single-honours application to spell out that she is capable of managing her time well. She then broadens this at the end by touching on some activities that have relevance for her studies.

My academic and personal preferences have always led me to the Liberal Arts; I feel as though the International Baccalaureate, my passion and self-discipline have prepared me for higher education. From the academics, extracurriculars and social aspects, I intend to embrace the entire experience of university.

In the final section, the candidate restates how she matches this course.

Overall, you can see how the key factor in a UCAS statement is the academic evidence, with students linking their engagement with a subject to the course of study that they are applying to. Using the courtroom exercise analogy, the judge here should be completely convinced that the case has been made, and will, therefore issue an offer of admittance to that university.

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Successful Personal Statement For Psychology At Oxford

Last Updated: 6th April 2022

Author: Rob Needleman

Table of Contents

Welcome to our popular Personal Statement series where we present a successful Personal Statement, and our Oxbridge Tutors provide their feedback on it. 

Today, we are looking through a Psychology applicant’s Personal Statement that helped secure a place at Oxford University. The Psychology Course at Oxford is a scientific discipline, involving the rigorous formulation and testing of ideas. It works through experiments and systematic observation rather than introspection.

Read on to see how this candidate demonstrates their academic interests and initiative.   

Here’s a breakdown of the Personal Statement (the applicant uses most of the 4,000 characters available):


The universities this candidate applied to were the following:

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Psychology Personal Statement

How does the mind work? The mind is a mystery housed within the most complex mechanism known to man: the human brain. My innate curiosity compels me to find out more about such a mystery through the study of Psychology.

I have long been interested in how our minds differ: for example, why have I always been a strong mathematician while my brother finds it challenging? Being a musician, I found Kathryn Vaughn’s research supporting a correlation between musical and mathematical abilities particularly thought provoking, while I have also wondered whether my childhood obsession with jigsaws helped me develop problem-solving skills, which are particularly relevant in Geometry: the area with the biggest rift in our abilities. Ann Dowker’s argument, in ‘Individual Differences’, that educational methods influence such differences was also particularly compelling. Therefore, in my gap year, whilst helping struggling learners in KS3 Mathematics at a local school, and, when I help educate children in Tanzania as an International Citizen Service volunteer with the VSO charity, I will evaluate the success of different educational methods. This will give me experience of carrying out my own research, and, will develop skills such as empathy, which is important in the more sensitive areas of Psychology. Furthermore, I recently assisted a University of Oxford researcher conducting follow-up assessments with children in local primary schools. These measured reading-age, language comprehension and numeracy level, and are used to gauge and refine the Catch-Up charity’s numeracy intervention programme. As some of the children being assessed were from a control group, my involvement also enlightened me to ethical aspects of research.

Differences that occur in the criminal mind are also of great interest to me. As an elected Student Ambassador for the Holocaust Educational Trust, I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau earlier this year, where I learnt about Rudolf Hoess. Hoess exterminated thousands of families, yet lived with his own family just outside the camp. This ignited an interest in complex behaviour; therefore I read Stanley Milgram’s research into whether ‘the Germans are different’, and learnt about his Theory of Obedience. This developed an interest in Forensic Psychology, and I subsequently attended a Forensics course at Nottingham University, where I learnt about a Forensic Psychologist’s role, during Mental Health tribunals, for example.

Deterioration of the mind, and methods to counteract this, also interest me. Reading the Psychologist has given me an insight into how the effectiveness of such methods could be analysed using a high-resolution 3D brain atlas; while a presentation from Claire Rytina enlightened me to useful cognitive treatment designed to rebuild and retrieve memory following her Viral Encephalitis. I have also voluntarily worked at a Nursing Home with some Dementia sufferers, and noticed that many sufferers enjoyed me playing music from their past, and sometimes, this triggered some of their memories. This made me wonder whether the music stimulated neurones which had lain dormant for years, similarly to when neurones are used for the first time, as Hubel and Weisel’s nature/nurture research has shown. Studying this in A level Biology gave me an interest in neuroscience, while Biology also stressed the importance of controls and fair tests, which are invaluable during Psychology experiments too. My mathematical skills in statistics will also be beneficial when analysing empirical evidence; and, the deep level of analysis and evaluation used for varying sources in A level History will be useful when studying case studies, while my essay techniques will help me when writing reports, and when considering issues from different perspectives.

Overall, I feel that my broad interests and skills will enable me to thrive as a Psychology student at a demanding University, where I would also make a positive contribution to University life.

For more inspiration, take a look through our other successful Personal Statement a nalysis articles:

Successful Personal Statement For Natural Science (Physical) At Cambridge

Successful personal statement for economics at cambridge, successful personal statement for land economy at cambridge, successful personal statement for chemistry at oxford, successful personal statement for geography at oxford, successful personal statement for classics at oxford, successful personal statement for law at oxford, successful personal statement for classics at cambridge, successful personal statement for engineering at cambridge, successful personal statement for philosophy at cambridge, successful personal statement for veterinary medicine at cambridge, successful personal statement for psychological and behavioural sciences at cambridge, successful personal statement for history at oxford, successful personal statement for physics at oxford, successful personal statement for cambridge mathematics and physics, successful personal statement example for computer science at oxford, successful personal statement for english at cambridge, successful personal statement for oxford english language and literature, successful personal statement for medicine at oxford university, successful personal statement for modern languages at oxford, successful personal statement for engineering at oxford, successful personal statement for natural sciences (biological) at cambridge, successful personal statement for economics & management at oxford, successful personal statement for ppe at oxford, successful personal statement for law at cambridge, successful personal statement for dentistry at king’s college london, successful personal statement for medicine at cambridge.

Download our Free Personal Statement Starter Guide 

Good Points Of The Personal Statement

This statement is powered by a broad range of academic interests — all of which the candidate has explored to a deep and commendable level. They are able to articulate how these interests came about, why they are important and how they intersect. In so doing, the candidate clearly demonstrates their ability to think independently, undertake independent projects and foster a wide-ranging curiosity. Furthermore, they clearly illustrate how their academic interests have had a bearing on their actions outside of the classroom; activities that require a substantial amount of initiative and endeavour.

Bad Points Of The Personal Statement

While the consideration of a range of different areas of psychology is illustrative of a consistently curious individual, this statement would have benefited from greater cohesion as an overall piece. The candidate could have also found a less rhetorical way of opening their statement; their tone at this point is not a mode of speech that they return to elsewhere, and as such, it seems somewhat like a non-sequitur. Their prose thereafter is much more engaging, and it seems unfulfilling and irrelevant to include such mystifying text at the start.

UniAdmissions Overall Score:

This candidate maturely presents their academic interests and particular areas of personal pursuit. As a result of this, they are able to demonstrate moments at which they have taken impressive amounts of initiative, and have really gone out of their way in order to experience their academic interests outside of the classroom. They are thereby able to fashion themselves as a curious, energetic, academic individual, who is able to think independently and develop their own work. There are potential areas for stylistic improvement within the statement, but they do not hinder the overall impression given of a capable and committed candidate.

This Personal Statement for Psychology is a great example of demonstrating academic interest and initiative. The candidate’s interest and passion are clearly shown which is vital to Admissions Tutors.

Remember, at Oxford, these Admissions Tutors are often the people who will be teaching you for the next few years, so you need to appeal directly to them.

Go to our Free Personal Statement Resources page for even more successful personal statements and expert guides.

Our expert tutors are on hand to help you craft the perfect Personal Statement for your Oxford Psychology application.

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Example Personal Statement: Psychology

We analyse a student's personal statement.

Example Personal Statement: Psychology

This student applied to study Psychology and Criminology at Southampton, Royal Holloway and Swansea, as well as Psychology at Liverpool and Oxford Brookes. They received offers from all five of their universities.

Here we break their personal statement down into parts, analysing each section so you can learn from their experience.

I became interested in the relationship between human behaviour and the brain after a member of my family was diagnosed with dementia. Having noticed the relationships between the deteriorating condition and abnormal behaviour, I began to question how the brain affects memory and behaviour. My growing interest in the link between the biology of a person and their behaviour was what originally drove me to study Psychology A-Level. Studying Psychology at university will allow me to develop my research and problem solving skills as well as my interest in the mind and behaviour. 

You should outline your interest in the subject without relying on one specific ‘lightbulb’ moment - in this example, the student has identified an initial interest and mentioned how they expanded on it to make their decision to study Psychology at university.

Careful not to make your response too emotive - mentioning poor health in your family as a stimulus for your interest is fine providing you keep your writing academic rather than emotional. If it’s too difficult to write about, choose a different driver.

One of the topics I found most interesting during my A-Level course was Psychopathology. This topic led me to research the inner workings of the atypical mind, particularly the mind of a criminal in Psychopath Whisperer by Kent Kiehl. The most engaging aspect of the book was a case study into a repeat offending paedophile. Despite all rehabilitation efforts failing, further investigation found a large tumour in his frontal lobe which, when removed, stopped all deviant behaviours. I find the relationship between psychology and criminology fascinating and looked into this further starting with Jim Fallon’s TED Talk ‘Exploring the mind of a killer’ where I learnt about the thought processes behind the crime, why criminals commit a crime, and whether they have free will. I used this research to help develop my understanding of my module on abnormal behaviour and would like to study this further.

Point out something specific you have studied that interests you, but avoid writing ‘I am passionate about…’. Evidence your interests by writing about ways you’ve explored your subject independently. Exploring things you find interesting without being told to by a teacher demonstrates your natural curiosity in the subject, and will give you the scope to write about your interest in topics that will be on your future courses. 

Studying both Biology and Chemistry has helped me to develop my skills in conducting experiments, particularly my hypothesis writing and my ability to analyse experimental data. For example, in my Biology A-Level coursework, I studied the effect of caffeine on the breakdown of protein, hypothesising that protein breakdown would be faster after caffeine intake. I plotted my data on a variety of graphs and used them to identify the rate of the reaction. I explored my hypothesis further in psychology, looking into the effect of caffeine on mental conditions, including addiction. Using my in class research, I linked this to genetics and gene mutations as part of the nature vs nurture debate to bring in my interest in criminals as this is a key element of the study of criminal minds.  

You don’t need to explain or even list the A-Levels you’re taking, but you should point out any transferable skills you’ve built, especially if they’re listed on your course page. For example, psychology courses tend to ask for scientific and analytical skills so this student has pointed out their skills in experiments, and they’ve linked this back to an interest in psychology to show how they can use their analyses across their subjects.

Remember that you need to answer the question ‘what makes me a good candidate for this course’, so pick out key examples that demonstrate that you are!

Recently, I attended a lecture by Dr Guy Sutton, a Professor in Neuroscience at Nottingham University. He discussed dissection, brain function and - most interestingly - the neuropathology of Schizophrenia. This led me to research the relationship between this mental illness and criminal behaviour. I was fascinated to find that, where previously it was thought that Schizophrenia drove people to violence, evidence has been uncovered to suggest that criminality is not a symptom of this condition, and the correlation between Schizophrenia and crime is due to the homelessness, poverty, or drug abuse that so often accompanies this illness. My research impressed upon me the importance of studying the mind; this new evidence changed both the way Schizophrenics are treated in society, and how mentally ill criminals are sentenced. 

Research into and passion for your subject doesn’t have to be about reading - if you’ve visited a lecture, museum, or something similar, mention it to demonstrate your passion and commitment.

Make sure you don’t just mention the experience and move on; you should link together your experience and your reading, and reflect on what you learnt or how it improved your understanding of the subject. Linking your subject to real world events demonstrates to admissions tutors that you understand and appreciate its relevance in the world around you, and demonstrates that you are capable of processing and evaluating information independently.

I enjoy art where I love to explore the inner workings of the mind from a creative perspective. I entered a sculpture which represented motor neurone disease into a competition; I explored the conflict between the minds of both humans and animals, and my entry was exhibited in the Saatchi Gallery where I was asked to film a short video explaining my thought process behind the piece. I am also a bowler for both my District and County cricket teams where I was awarded ‘best bowler’ for three seasons for my hard work, dedication, and drive to improve. As a result of my improving teamwork and leadership skills, I am a Level 1 coach and have begun working towards my level two coaching certificate. I have recently been given the responsibility of running my own team where I hope to inspire the next generation of cricketers. 

Don’t be afraid to highlight your achievements - you should be proud of them! Make sure you point out any accolades, awards, or competitions you have won or taken part in, alongside any extra curricular activities that have helped you develop your skills. You don’t have to link these back to your subject - the point of this section is to demonstrate your skills, not show that you are suitable for psychology. You don’t need a conclusion - use those characters to fill out your examples! If you do choose to end on a conclusion, write about what you are looking forward to studying, rather than any career goals; you are applying to be a student, not a future psychologist!

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Personal statement example psychotherapy and counselling: practices and principles personal statement.

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Psychotherapy and Counselling: Practices and Principles Personal Statement

I have always desired to understand feelings, behaviour and the human mind; always been driven toward solving the questions that start with why. However, after leading many spontaneous counselling sessions with friends, witnessing the empowering feeling it brings to simply aid someone find a way forward, instead, I also became driven toward solving the questions that start with how. I would deem it a privilege to take the time with someone to answer how they can move forward from their situation and how they can deal with whatever hand life has dealt them, as well as being able to diagnose any conditions before initiating treatment. All of these feelings have led me to aspire toward the rewarding career path of becoming a therapist or counsellor and I believe this degree would lay down the foundations I would need for this to happen. Following on from this, I would strive towards a Master’s degree in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy to get closer to my chosen career and enhance my undergraduate skills.

Upon volunteering with Scropton Riding for the Disabled Centre, I was able to witness the psychological impacts living with disabilities had, such as the extra sense of fear implemented in everything both the children and parents did. But on the other hand, I saw the psychological benefits the horsemanship brought to the children, even just for a small time, as they were able to express their enjoyment for an activity the same as an able-bodied child simply through laughter and smiling. As well as this, I have also participated in shadowing a health visitor, in this I saw new mothers suffering from postnatal depression but also struggling to understand the normality of this condition. From studying sociology I learnt society places many stigmas upon psychological conditions such as postnatal depression through a lack of understanding about it; I was able to apply this knowledge and analysis when observing how the mothers suffering deemed themselves as inadequate. All of this experience inspired me further toward working to help people overcome psychological conditions which inhibit their way of life and relationships with those around them. I have recently begun learning about “Straightness training” with my own horse; this is used to enhance an understanding of the psychology behind why horses act a certain way and help to find solutions. This has enabled me to witness an alternative approach to interpreting behaviour, but in a way in which the participant is not able to communicate or explain through speech. Because of this, I have been able to further develop skills in observing feelings and emotions, which I feel would greatly benefit me when doing so with humans in counselling practice.

I have studied sociology at both GCSE and A-level and from this, I have learnt invaluable skills in analysis of society as a whole, however, this has only motivated me more to learn about the individuals that make up this society. I feel studying about psychology or psychotherapy would allow me to do this through understanding not only different conditions but also the motives behind people’s actions. I have also developed the skill of being able to use studies made by sociologists in my essay writing. My essay writing skills and structuring have also developed through A-Level English Literature, as well as my analysis skills developed further through A-Level history.

I feel I would be most suitable for this course as I am able to display compassion and sympathy but also critical thinking toward a subject I am greatly passionate about. Many people wonder why someone would choose to work in an environment infiltrated with misery; however, I have reached the realisation that the ever-changing world we live in is indisputable and as opposed to dwelling on the unfortunate events, it is essential that focus is placed upon the recovery. Quite simply, I believe the perfect opportunity to make any positive change is only granted through being surrounded by what was once misery.

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    ucas personal statement for psychology

  2. Amazon.com: Best UCAS Personal Statement: PSYCHOLOGY (Volume 7

    ucas personal statement for psychology

  3. 5 x UCAS sample personal statements by biggles1230

    ucas personal statement for psychology

  4. Personal Statement Ucas Examples Psychology

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  5. How to Write a Personal Statement for University

    ucas personal statement for psychology

  6. UCAS personal statement for Psychology (2017)

    ucas personal statement for psychology


  1. UCAS Personal Statement Workshop


  1. Psychology Personal Statement Advice

    The University of Bristol highlights five elements of a strong, academically focused psychology statement: Ensure it is well structured and well written. Give details of any specific interests or ambitions you have that relate to the content of the course. Demonstrate your enthusiasm for psychological research as a focus for academic study.

  2. Psychology Personal Statement Examples

    Psychology Personal Statement Example 5. Psychology has been a part of my life indirectly for many years, from something as insignificant as people watching in a cafe to an impromptu counselling session for a friend with emotional trauma. I have had a real desire to work with people for a long time and have always been fascinated with human ...

  3. Psychology Personal Statement Examples

    Alongside your application form, your psychology UCAS personal statement is a description of your skills, ambitions and interests. Writing a personal statement for a psychology masters or undergraduate programme is a big deal: it's a really popular discipline, so this is your chance to set yourself apart from the other candidates.

  4. Psychology Personal Statement Examples For UCAS Application

    Psychology Personal Statement Examples. 30 Dec,2022 Alan Withworth. When applying to a Psychology course it's important to write a strong psychology personal statement. Use our psychology personal statement examples as a guide for writing your UCAS application. Below are 3 examples you can read.

  5. How To Write Your Undergraduate Personal Statement

    Just start by showing your enthusiasm for the subject, showcasing your knowledge and understanding, and sharing your ambitions of what you want to achieve. Avoid cliches! Remember, this opening part is simply about introducing yourself, so let the admissions tutor reading your personal statement get to know you. Keep it relevant and simple.

  6. Writing a psychology personal statement: expert advice from

    Remember that a personal statement should be written to persuade the admissions tutor that you're a good fit for the course and have the skills to succeed. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what would convince you. Be honest but avoid false modesty. Sell yourself as a future psychologist in the making.

  7. Writing your personal statement

    How to write a personal statement for a conservatoire. The personal statement is your opportunity to talk about you, and why you want to enrol on a particular course. You should describe the ambitions, skills, and experience that'll make you suitable for the course.

  8. Psychology Personal Statement 17

    Psychology Personal Statement. Paul Valery stated' The purpose of psychology is to give us a completely different idea of the things we know best'. It shows things for what they are as well as explains the motivation into the things we do, even if we do not realise ourselves. I want to study this course to gain insight behind unthinkable ...

  9. How do I write a personal statement for Psychology?

    Share : Follow this step by step process to get your personal statement to the point you can show it to your reviewers for feedback…. Step One: Think and jot. Think about yourself… write down all your. 1) Personal achievements 2) Experience and 3) Spare time interests. Step Two: Think 'Why Psychology?'. Write down your answers to these ...

  10. How to write a UCAS personal statement

    UCAS personal statement word limit. Your personal statement length can be up to 4,000 characters long. This may sound a lot, but it's a word limit of around 550-1000 words with spaces and only about 1 side of typed A4 paper. You need to keep it concise and make sure it's clear and easy to read.

  11. How To Write A Personal Statement For Psychology

    A personal statement for psychology is a written document that is typically submitted as part of a UCAS application in the UK. It is an opportunity for you to show your unique background, experiences, how strong the secondary school education you have, and your interests, and to explain how these have prepared you for a career in psychology.

  12. Personal statement dos and don'ts

    Don'ts. Don't be modest or shy. You want your passions to come across. Don't exaggerate - if you do, you may get caught out in an interview when asked to elaborate on an interesting achievement. Don't use quotes from someone else, or cliches. Don't leave it to the last minute - your statement will seem rushed and important ...

  13. Psychology and Criminology Personal Statement Example 1

    Psychology and Criminology Personal Statement Example 1. The golden question seems to be why human beings behave the way that they do - a simple question yet a question that millions have failed to answer. Before taking Psychology as an A level, naivety allowed me to believe that the answer to this question was seemingly transparent.

  14. Psychology Personal Statement 5

    Psychology is a subject that really stimulates my mind and my desire to challenge my perception of mental health. As well as this, my interest has come from a personal point. Witnessing a family member with mental health issues has made me want to understand why he behaves that way and why his illness cannot be treated in the same way we treat ...

  15. How to Write a Psychology Personal Statement Worthy of Oxbridge!

    Tips for your Psychology Personal Statement. Few students will have written anything like a UCAS personal statement before - an approximate side of A4 on what exactly you have to offer.For some general tips on how to write a high-level and original personal statement, check out our blog on 10 Top Tips for Writing a Standout Oxbridge Personal Statement.

  16. UCAS Personal Statement and Examples

    The UCAS Personal Statement will be read by someone looking for proof that you are academically capable of studying that subject for your entire degree. In some cases, it might be an actual professor reading your essay. You'll only write one personal statement, which will be sent to all the universities you're applying to, and it's ...

  17. Psychology & Neuroscience Personal Statement Examples

    Psychology and Neuroscience Personal Statement. Submitted by Caroline. Purpose for learning is a key difference between animal and human brains; whereas evidence suggests that animal brains have evolved to learn what is useful for their immediate needs, humans have a greater capacity to learn and store information even if it has no obvious us ...

  18. Successful Personal Statement For Psychology At Oxford

    This Personal Statement for Psychology is a great example of demonstrating academic interest and initiative. The candidate's interest and passion are clearly shown which is vital to Admissions Tutors. Remember, at Oxford, these Admissions Tutors are often the people who will be teaching you for the next few years, so you need to appeal ...

  19. Psychology

    Psychology is also transferable to other exciting careers such as marketing, human resources, and healthcare, making it a versatile foundation for personal and professional growth. Whether you choose to pursue counselling, research, or organisational development, a background in psychology gives you valuable insights into human behaviour and ...

  20. Example Personal Statement: Psychology : Unifrog Blog

    Here we break their personal statement down into parts, analysing each section so you can learn from their experience. I became interested in the relationship between human behaviour and the brain after a member of my family was diagnosed with dementia. Having noticed the relationships between the deteriorating condition and abnormal behaviour ...

  21. BSc Psychology Personal Statement

    BSc Psychology Personal Statement. Submitted by Bethany. My decision to study psychology was not a difficult one. It is something that plays a key part of our day to day lives, hence my choice to study this at a higher level. I have always been fascinated into how the mind communicates to the body, and why humans act the way they do.

  22. Psychotherapy & Counselling Personal Statement Example

    Psychotherapy and Counselling: Practices and Principles Personal Statement. I have always desired to understand feelings, behaviour and the human mind; always been driven toward solving the questions that start with why. However, after leading many spontaneous counselling sessions with friends, witnessing the empowering feeling it brings to ...

  23. How To Write Your Postgraduate Personal Statement

    Just start by showing your enthusiasm for the subject, showcasing your knowledge and understanding, and sharing your ambitions of what you want to achieve. Avoid cliches . Remember, this opening part is simply about introducing yourself, so let the admissions tutor reading your personal statement get to know you. Keep it relevant and simple.