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How to write a personal statement

How to approach writing your personal statement for graduate applications.

If you’re applying for a grad course that requires a personal statement (sometimes also called a ‘statement of purpose’), it can be difficult to know where to start and what to include. Read on for tips from some of our masters’ students about their process and what they found helpful.

1. Before you start

The academic work is the most important reason why we’re here, but that also translates into work experiences, internships, volunteering. I think a big part of the personal statement is crafting that narrative of academic self that fits alongside your professional experiences, to give that greater picture of who you are as an academic. Lauren (MSc Modern Middle Eastern Studies)

Start by thinking about the skills, knowledge and interests you’ve acquired over time and how the course at Oxford will take them forward.

Your statement is the story you want to tell about yourself and your academic work to the department you are applying to.

Most of your application and its supporting documents communicate plain facts about your academic career so far. Your personal statement is your best opportunity to put these facts into context and show assessors how you’ve progressed and excelled.

Make sure you highlight evidence of your achievements (a high grade in a relevant area, an award or scholarship, a research internship).

Presenting yourself

When I was writing my personal statement, I went onto my course website. I looked at what they emphasised and what kind of students they were looking for, and I wrote about my experiences based on that. Kayla (MSc in Clinical Embryology)

Make it easy for an assessor to see how you meet the entry requirements for the course (you can find these on each course page ).

Don’t make any assumptions about what Oxford is looking for!

Get to know your department

You want to study this particular subject and you want to study at Oxford (you’re applying here, so we know that!) but why is Oxford the right place for you to study this subject? What interests or qualities of the academic department and its staff make it attractive to you?

Use your academic department’s website for an overview of their research, academic staff and course information (you'll find a link to the department's own website on each course page ).

I said, ‘why do I actually want to be here? What is it about being at Oxford that’s going to get me to what I want to do? Sarah (Bachelor of Civil Law)

Talk it out

Talking to others about your statement can be a great way to gather your ideas and decide how you’d like to approach it. Sarah even managed to get benefit out of this approach by herself:

“I spent a lot of time talking out loud. My written process was actually very vocal, so I did a lot of talking about myself in my room.”

2. The writing process

Know your format.

Make sure you’ve read all the guidance on the How to Apply section of your course page , so you know what’s needed in terms of the word count of the final statement, what it should cover and what it will be assessed for. This should help you to visualise roughly what you want to end up with at the end of the process.

Make a start

When it comes to writing your personal statement, just getting started can be the hardest part.

One good way to get around writer’s block is to just put it all down on the page, like Mayur.

First - write down anything and everything. In the first round, I was just dumping everything - whatever I’ve done, anything close to computer science, that was on my personal statement. Mayur (MSc Computer Science)

You’ll be editing later anyway so don’t let the blank page intimidate you - try writing a little under each of the following headings to get started:

  • areas of the course at Oxford that are the most interesting to you
  • which areas you’ve already studied or had some experience in
  • what you hope to use your Oxford course experience for afterwards.

3. Finishing up

Get some feedback.

Once you’ve got a draft of about the right length, ask for feedback on what you’ve written. It might take several drafts to get it right.

This could involve getting in touch with some of your undergraduate professors to ask them to read your draft and find any areas which needed strengthening.

You could also show it to people who know you well, like family or friends.

Because they’re the first people to say, ‘Who is that person?’ You want the people around you to recognise that it really sounds like you. It can be scary telling family and friends you’re applying for Oxford, because it makes it real, but be brave enough to share it and get feedback on it. Sarah (Bachelor of Law)

Be yourself

Finally - be genuine and be yourself. Make sure your personal statement represents you, not your idea about what Oxford might be looking for.

We have thousands of students arriving every year from a huge range of subjects, backgrounds, institutions and countries (you can hear from a few more of them in our My Oxford interviews).

Get moving on your application today

To find out more about supporting documents and everything else you need to apply, read your course page and visit our Application Guide .

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Oxford Personal Statement Examples: Top 4

Oxford Personal Statement Examples

If you’re looking to craft the perfect personal statement, reading over some Oxford personal statement examples will be the best way to start. It’s one thing to read college essay tips or instructions on how to write the perfect personal statement, but another entirely to see an example of how it’s done.

How to start a college essay can be tricky, but we have you covered! In this article, we have Oxford personal statement examples for your edification so that you can write your own best work.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 12 min read

Oxford personal statement examples, example no.1.

We are made of stories. History itself is the story we tell ourselves about who we are, and our oldest stories are still with us. Gilgamesh would never have found his immortality but through his story being told over and over again. Scrooge is visited by three ghosts every year for some people, and no matter how many times we hear about his conversion from miser to “…as good a man as the good old city knew…” we have our hearts warmed, reminding ourselves of the importance of human comfort and generosity. I have come to my interest in the classics through my interest in the stories we tell that make us who we are.

My personal reading list always exceeds my school’s reading list. When I was a boy, I was gripped by the stories of heroes like Perseus and Hercules. As I grew, I sought further stories and came across the epic poems. Over the years, I have found many people who share my enjoyment of these tales, but often they do not truly know them. One of my perpetual fascinations with classics is how these stories change, or are perceived, in the public consciousness.

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For example, many people know of the Labours of Hercules – or Herakles, as the Greeks said – but they rarely know why he was tasked with these Labours: he killed his children. We often make dark aspects of old stories into children’s stories. We see this with modern cartoon versions of far grimmer fairy tales. I believe that this has done our world a disservice. Instead of confronting unpleasant truths, we hide them. History is often whitewashed along with the stories to make it palatable.

My studies of the classics have led me to begin a work on Hercules – investigating how his story has been told and retold. I am also examining how the story has changed over the years, why it has changed and how retelling this story in gentler ways has paralleled pop culture dumbing down stories and ignoring unpleasant truths.

“It’s just a frog,” I thought, but no matter how I tried to convince myself of that fact, I didn’t find it any easier to dissect. I was disappointed in myself because I thought that a scientist should be dispassionate, logical, and capable of dealing with any sentimental subject in an objective fashion. Yet there was the frog, my scalpel poised dramatically above its little, amphibian torso. I was almost paralysed with sympathy, and I began to fear that I would never be a scientist.

When I was young, I would wander the woods, sketching plants and animals before looking them up at home. I am happiest when I am learning something new – even if it means unlearning a truth I “knew” the day before. I had loved labs and experiments, but I had hit the wall of dissection. Could I take these creatures apart? I love learning about them, but how could I slice them open?

I told my friend Jeremiah that I wasn’t going to dissect the bullfrog. I would drop the course and do something else with my life. “I’ll help,” he said, “Come on.” With his support and encouragement, I made the first cut and couldn’t believe what I saw; I was entranced by the intricacy of the frog. Being able to see and understand nature from an insider’s perspective, so to speak, was no longer “gross,” and my curiosity finally kicked in.

As I continued in biology, through lab experiments, dissections and investigations, I found myself reversing my position on the mentality of the scientist. It is not that we must be dispassionate, but that we must intimately feel a connection with the natural world. We are a part of this world – as perfectly slotted into our evolutionary position as any other creature. More excited than ever, I joined a biology club in our city where I was surrounded by biologists of all ages – amateur and professional – and I grew immensely. I was even awarded 1 st place in a biology Olympiad.

I believe that a truly successful scientist is one who finds harmony in the natural world, not one who exploits it, and I have had several conversations with my laboratory instructor on these points. He agreed with me, and we have been working on a rubric to create a more nature-friendly approach to the science curriculum at our school. He was already quite nature-conscious, but we both agree that we could be doing more to minimise our ecological footprints.

My dream job is one that helps to balance human interaction with nature on a global scale, to fight climate change and ensure the survival of all natural species. I hope to study the natural sciences at Oxford to bring this about. I believe that my journey is one of lifelong learning, a concept stressed at your school. I am also interested in your research in sustainable urban development. I think that co-existing with nature is one of the all-important issues for humanity and for an aspiring biologist. I want to contribute to a world where, even if we dissect frogs, we do so with a sense of responsibility, not callous indifference.

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Example No.3

I was ten minutes into a well-structured argument as to why I was not argumentative before I realised the irony of my words. I shut my mouth, red-faced and laughing with the rest of my family. I come from a family of debaters. Not that being a debater is the only thing that makes me want to study history and politics at your institution. Politicians are more than just arguers, but my temperament is well-suited to challenging ideas and wrestling with those ideas in the public sphere.

I want to make a difference on a national level in the political arena, serving the public as a politician. I joined the debate club to learn how to perform well in front of an audience, how to test my ideas and most importantly, how to lose. I am proud of my track record, wins and losses. Losses can be a strength. My first debate was, “Be it therefore resolved that there is an obesity problem in this country.” I was assigned the “pro” angle, and I was so sure that I could win by appealing to statistical realities. However, I lost. My opponent had sharper arguments and convinced the audience that “problem” implied an inherent morality issue with obesity. I had no counterargument.

From that loss, I learned how to use language better, to anticipate counterarguments and to know my opponent’s position better than my own. Every loss is an opportunity to grow, and I love that I have been pitted against fierce opponents who make me earn every point. I would rather achieve fewer victories against a skilled debater than gain many victories against those who are ill-prepared. I also rarely lose on the same subject twice.

This is relevant to my political philosophy, which is that I believe politicians should be willing to change their opinions, even on important issues. If nobody changed their minds, we would all be pig-headed fools. I want the best information, and if that changes my mind, so be it. We need more changed minds and evidence-based policies coming from politicians who value truth and accuracy, as well as the ethics to provide morally defensible positions.

Thanks to my debate club experience, I was able to campaign successfully for student body president, a position I held for two years. I took this responsibility seriously, even if not every peer or authority figure felt the same way. During my time in student government, my proudest accomplishment was helping create a new scholarship programme to fund the university studies and housing of one student. I believe that politicians should fight for changes that will benefit people, not just institutions, so this scholarship was a particularly exciting project for me to work on.

Outside of political ambitions, my favourite thing to do is to go to museums and art galleries. I take tremendous pleasure in discovering who we were and are and being able to compare the two. I hope to bring my historical knowledge and understanding to my career in politics.

Whether I am debating at family dinner or quietly, reverently studying in a museum, my greatest joy would be to help people build the society that they want to see.

Example No.4

When the first atomic bombs were detonated, Oppenheimer famously stated, “I am become death, destroyer of worlds,” characterising the transcendent regret he felt. Of course, Oppenheimer was himself quoting from the Bhagavad Gita. When I think of Oppenheimer’s sorrow, I think of the importance philosophy has for a person navigating hard sciences, like mathematics.

For many people, philosophy and mathematics – what I hope to study at Oxford – are divorced from one another, if not opposites. One, resulting from the musings of a curious mind, is seen as almost useless in practical terms. The other is seen as cold, scientific truth in written form. But I believe they are linked. I loved reading Oxford’s published paper, “Influencing HIV/AIDS Policy in India Through Mathematical Modelling.” Our math knowledge, and the application thereof, can directly affect the world around us, improving it for all.

In my final year of high school, I wanted to write about the impact that mathematics has on the world. I wrote a paper on black holes. I interviewed a mathematician named Peter Richards who was working at a physics lab studying the phenomenon. Mr. Richards told me how the gravity of black holes creates event horizons, shaping space around them, but that scientists are investigating whether gravity is influenced by light. This cosmological-level chicken-or-egg question became the basis of my paper, which was about how we think about the universe and our place in it. Mathematics might one day answer who we are and why we are here. This paper won 1 st place in an essay competition and secured me a small scholarship.

Math is the language of the universe. I see it everywhere: in nature’s patterns and in the music I play. I have been learning to play flutes – everything from woodwinds to concert flutes to world music instruments like ocarinas. As my study of math deepens, I become more immersed in exploring the range of the instrument, which, in turn, transforms my music. Math reshapes the world around us.

This study of the interplay between mathematics and philosophy led me to study the mathematics of global populations, which I believe will soon become imperative research on how we can maintain a sustainable eco-system. I attended a recent event for mathematicians studying global trends, where I interviewed several prominent mathematicians in the field for the school paper. I got to ask these important persons about their thoughts on the responsibility mathematicians have regarding humanity and the care needed to help our species. A surprising number – two out of the five I spoke with – had given little or no thought to the idea of blending philosophy and mathematics. I was shocked at this mathematical proof that even people in the field did not give much thought to this.

I hope to combat this in my own life and studies, encouraging mathematicians to increase their conscientious use of their skills to better humanity in a direct way, as well as to be more conscious of their responsibilities in the world today.

Oxford recommends that you follow the UCAS advice on personal statements when writing your own. It is well worth taking your time drafting your personal statement because the admissions committee at Oxford reads each one several times. They are really interested in learning about anything academic because they are curious about your potential in your field of study. This implies that they are interested in both what you have done and are doing in school as well as anything you have done outside of the classroom that is related to the subject you have chosen to study. More than being the best extracurriculars for college , Oxford refers to these activities as super-curriculars . Super-curriculars can be anything “you’ve read, listened to, watched or visited” that relates to your academic interests, unlike extracurriculars.

About 80% of your personal statement should discuss your academic interests and super-curriculars. The recommended structure is as follows:

  • Opening paragraph explaining why you want to pursue the programme
  • 3 or 4 paragraphs analysing your academic and super-curricular activities
  • Brief closing paragraph about your extracurricular interests, with a focus on transferable skills and career plans/future aspirations

To ensure that your personal statement applies specifically to the University of Oxford, first look at the school’s mission, vision statement and core values. Aligning your essay with these values will help prove that Oxford is the perfect fit for you, which is your main goal. This is the first step in how to write a college essay for this school.

You may also want to reference other important aspects of Oxford. Do they have research in the area you want to work in? Do they have a professor you cannot wait to study with? Do they have the curriculum set up in a way that best suits you as a student and your future goals? You need to show not only how you fit with Oxford, but also how the school will propel you forward in a way that no other school could.

Oxford’s Mission Statement

“We inspire people locally, nationally and globally by extending access to Oxford’s world-class teaching and resources through flexible and inclusive opportunities for study and research.”

Oxford’s Vision Statement

“To be a global centre of excellence for lifelong learning. Courses will be underpinned by the best teaching, research and support for learning to meet the needs of diverse, ambitious and intellectually curious students. Staff and students will work together within and beyond Oxford to foster a vibrant learning community attentive to the importance of promoting sustainability and social justice.”

Oxford’s Values

Finally, note that all Oxford personal statements have a character cap of 4,000, including spaces, and must be no longer than 47 lines.

Essay Writing Tips

Here are some general pieces of advice to keep in mind while working through your college essay review process. These tips will apply to your Oxford essays, but they will also be beneficial for any essays. Essays follow a basic structure and have a fundamental goal that is shared among them, even when specifics differ. So, you could be writing supplemental college essays , college diversity essays , or Harvard medical school secondary essays , but regardless of the type of essay or school, these tips will still apply.

The Main Objective

All essays are, directly or indirectly, “ why this college” essays . The admissions committee is looking for students who fit their institution and are excited about attending. Whatever your college essay topics are, you’re always answering that fundamental question.

Start Strong

College essay introductions are hard in and of themselves. Conquering the introduction means beating the blank page. Start with the best “"hook” sentence you can find. That means you need an attention-grabbing opener that compels the reader to continue.

Once you’re through the introduction, you must follow through with two or three paragraphs about your accomplishments or criteria the school expect to hear about – in Oxford’s case, those are your academics and super-curriculars.

Each story should answer the fundamental question: “Why is this person perfect for this school?"

Wrap it up with a conclusion that summarises your main points and, if possible, connects to the introduction like a loop.

Up to 4,000 characters, which includes spaces.

You don’t want to go so short you can’t say anything of substance. Brevity is the soul of wit, however, so don’t worry about having a personal statement that is “only” 300–400 words long. Don’t pad out your statement; say what you need to and no more.

Your personal statement shows your unique abilities and personality and why you are ideally suited for the institution and programme to which you are applying. Showcase qualities like perseverance, leadership, teamwork, curiosity, creativity, logic and personal growth.

Your main focus will be on academics and super-curricular activities.

Negative people don’t come off well, so dwelling on problems, whining, or badmouthing people is never a good idea.

Formal, standard essay format is perfect: hook sentence, introduction, main body – which expresses one or two main ideas – and a conclusion that comes full-circle, ideally connecting to the introduction. You can use the first person, since this is a personal essay.

Always follow the rule of “show, don’t tell” to demonstrate your qualities and abilities.

Free-associate for a while. Give yourself one or two minutes to write on the programme you want to take at Oxford and just free-associate. By the end, your passion for the subject will have won out and given you a good list of ideas to explore.

Your essay gets cut off. Never exceed the limit. So, in practical terms, if you exceed the character limit, or 47 lines, part of your personal statement will be missing.

Not formally, no, but it is being evaluated, so make sure you edit properly and go over spelling and grammar with a fine-tooth comb.

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oxford university sample personal statement

University of Oxford Department of Computer Science

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Personal Statement

Tutors make the admissions decisions based on your academic abilities and potential alone: extra-curricular activities do not form part of the selection criteria in any subject. But that's not to say we don't want to hear about your computing- and maths-related experiences. Your super-curricular activities (subject-related undertakings that could be anything from summer schools to competitions, background reading to programming experience) can help us build an overall picture about you.

We are not looking for any specific computing knowledge, but we are looking for people with a genuine interest in the subject. Use something(s) related to maths or computing that you have done to demonstrate your passion for the subject, and help convince us of your commitment. We don't have a checklist of things we want you to have completed: we'd rather hear about what you've chosen to do, and what excited you about it. It doesn't have to be earth-shatteringly original.

Remember that you only write one personal statement, which will be used, for all your course choices. If you are applying for a joint degree such as Computer Science and Philosophy you will need to explain why you are interested in both aspects of this joint programme. (Admissions tutors at other universities where you are applying for single honours programmes will simply ignore this bit if it is not relevant to them.)

Having said this, your UCAS form is read by all the Universities that you apply to, and some of them will put considerably more emphasis on your extra-curricular activities than we do, and we will be aware of that when we read your form.

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History personal statement example (oxford university).

My interest in History was first sparked during a remembrance service at the Menin Gate. Hearing the bugles bellow out the 'Last Post' to a crowd of thousands, instilled in me a deeper appreciation of the past, and the sacrifices that were made to sculpt the world we live in today. The development of creed across time is something that intrigues me. Outside of school I have developed my knowledge of such manifestations through immersing myself in Hobbes' 'Leviathan', and also reading about Callicles in Plato's 'Gorgias'. I found it intriguing that the development of societal structure and legitimate governments differ in various civilizations, whether this is through the Qing dynasties' centralisation of power or perhaps classic republicanism in the days of Cicero. Moreover, I have taken an interest with the works of Locke and Hobbes on the structure of the perfect state. The disparity between differing ideologies is an imperative part of History for me, as it stretches across society as a whole.

During my studies through History I have become familiar with British political History, mostly centred on the 20th century. Such study in school has driven me to delve into further reading around the period, whether this is through learning more about the chance factor of a simple dentist appointment which allowed Churchill to take the reins of Britain in Roy Jenkins' 'Churchill', or perhaps the reading of 'Imperial Transform' by Aldrich. Interesting comparisons are drawn between France and its Empire as a whole. Whilst France yielded to an era of democracy, its Empire was still controlled by the aristocracy which I found fascinating. I have begun to understand the ubiquity of History through my other academic studies. I have become aware of how History has altered through the study of English Literature. Studying English has armed me with powerful analytical and comparative skills, as well as a wider understanding of modern historical issues. This was formed through the reading of 'Darkness at Noon', which explores the presence of Communism in modern society. Studying Geography has showed me how climate has affected the course of History. Reading 'Guns, Germs and Steel' by Jared Diamond showed me how a fragmented Europe harnessed the power of outside invention and use it to dominate the world. I was ultimately drawn to research The East India Company as a result, and became fascinated at how it subjugated the eastern world in terms of trade.

My dedication to academia is reflected in my position as Head Boy. Such a position demonstrates my commitment to an institution as well as possessing a good level of communication. Additionally to being Head Boy of the College, I am part of a successful debating society. This has given me the opportunity to travel across the country with a few moments of success along the way, including best speaker at Liverpool University. Debating has developed not only my communication skills, but also my ability to work within a team, and speak publically as well. I am also fortunate enough to be a part of a school reading program, in which I help younger students with reading difficulties develop. Doing so not only has developed me as a person but more so those I read with as well.

My passions are not just limited to academia however, as outside I am a great lover of Music, whether this be listening to or playing guitar. For me Music and History are intertwined as they both offer inspiration to many and act as a challenge as well. As with History, Music is crafted slowly over time showing the desire and passion to succeed in something which you love. Armed with a passion for History, I happily anticipate spending the next few years of my life immersed in as many aspects of History as possible. Thereby furthering my own understanding of the past and how it has crafted the world we live in today

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This personal statement was written by Matthew103542 for application in 2014.

Matthew103542's university choices Oxford University The University of Warwick London School of Economics University College London

Green : offer made Red : no offer made

Matthew103542's Comments

Thought I'd upload my ps, in the hopes that it will help some of you, in applying to university.

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Sample Economics Personal Statement (admitted to Oxford, Cambridge, LSE)

oxford university sample personal statement

by Talha Omer, MBA, M.Eng., Harvard & Cornell Grad

In personal statement samples by field.

The following personal statement is written by an applicant who got accepted to top graduate programs in economics. Variations of this personal statement got accepted at Oxford, Cambridge, and LSE. Read this essay to get inspiration and understand what a top economics school PS should look like.

You might also be interested in reading this Statement of Purpose in Economics  that got admitted to Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

Sample Personal Statement Economics


The sounds coming from near the doorway may have startled an outsider but were barely noticed by the people lounging on charpoys and mooras (wicker stools). With the atmosphere abuzz with their chatter, the sputtering sound of the diesel generator lent more time to catch up as the bulbs lit up and fans whirred on throughout the haveli (palace) on an otherwise hot evening. But on days when it refused to crackle, my grandmother would enkindle gas lanterns filling the veranda with hissing sounds and soothing moonlight rays.

I still cherish these memories from my childhood trips to XYZ, my native village, some 450kms from the closest city. At the time, the short sojourns from Kuwait felt rather adventurous. However, the perspective turned wrong when I permanently moved to XYZ. Due to unannounced electricity breakdowns, we would find ourselves groping in the dark to the closest candle stand while sweating in the scorching summer.

And just when we thought it couldn’t get worse, the occasional power breakdowns segued into a full-blown crisis of the decade. Over the next seven years, we witnessed unprecedented power outages averaging 15-18 hours daily. People weren’t just lamenting the loss of mental peace; they were mourning the monetary losses worth billions of rupees translating into 1.5% of GDP.

Fast forward 15 years, and I found myself in a position to alleviate the situation. As Deputy Administrative Head of the Government’s Economic Affairs division, I administer a departmental budget worth $500 million. I am currently undertaking solarization projects. A recent shift towards renewables has occurred after public unrest during the early decade led to hasty investments in thermal-based power plants. Unfortunately, seven years later, we are still reeling from the aftermath of a bitter public backlash as we have the lowest regional electricity consumption per capita.

In addition to high tariffs, the energy sector has been marred by the accumulation of circular debt of $30 billion. This has been caused by multiple factors, such as electricity theft, transmission losses, and non-payment of dues. Having worked in Economic Affairs Division, I have also been part of a team that took massive power sector reforms, including:

  • elimination of subsidies
  • policy formulation on electricity theft and conservation 
  • overhaul of sectoral regulatory bodies
  • privatization of distribution companies et al.

However, as the Program ended, so did the reforms.

Regrettably, negative externalities from these energy woes have had spillover effects on all socio-economic sectors. The environment has especially poorly been affected by the process for the lack of an integrated generation and transmission policy framework in the renewable industry. Being a lower riparian state has also exacerbated climate change. We face extreme weather conditions – floods, droughts, smog, and diminishing water tables. Unable to agree on water issues not covered under the Indus Water Treaty has led to regular skirmishes and legal battles in the International Court of Justice.

Given the background, my country’s economic and Energy woes require a holistic understanding of the subject. This makes Economic policy specializing in Energy the right choice for my graduate studies. Furthermore, I can become an effective leader and economist in the sector through the interdisciplinary pedagogical approach covering policy, economics, management, law; practical skills; quantitative and qualitative analysis within an international context.

My aim is socio-economic development in tandem with confidence-building measures and strategic partnerships with the neighboring countries. Studying at Oxford will provide this learning opportunity in and out of the class as I will interact with some of the most brilliant minds worldwide and work in teams with them. I also look forward to student-led events, conferences, guest lectures, field trips, and panel discussions to augment my understanding of supranational political demands. This will help me lead economic policy reforms for the next 25 years.


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  • PPE Oxford Personal Statement Example

Below you can read a great personal statement for the Oxford course in PPE. The candidate successfully applied and was invited to interview at Oxford .

PPE Oxford Personal Statement

As I wandered the halls of Westminster, clutched my dictionary while watching Question Time, and poured over economic reports trying to grasp the principles within, I realised that I wasn’t indulging mere childhood curiosity – I was allowing my destiny to find me. 

My thirst to understand the machinery of society was unquenchable, leading me to explore the intersections of politics , philosophy , and economics from my early days. I peppered my grandfather with wide-eyed questions on the impacts of policies as he recounted stories of spearheading union protests. 

I ploughed through dense biographies of iconic leaders and treatises on rights by enlightenment thinkers, enthralled by their ability to reshape reality as my multi-coloured highlighters etched Rousseau’s Social Contract and my fingers folded page corners of Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, I knew I was forging the first wrinkles into my brain that would one day house a masterful command of PPE.

This led me to choose A-level subjects – History , Economics, and English Literature – that would provide relevant conceptual foundations and prepare me for the rigorous PPE course. Achieving predicted grades of A*AA has equipped me with sharp analytical abilities, critical thinking skills, and articulate communication proficiency to succeed at Oxford .

My passion for politics was sparked by my grandfather’s involvement in trade union campaigns that opened my eyes to labour rights issues. As an inquisitive child, I peppered him with questions about policy impacts that he patiently answered, nurturing my intellectual curiosity. 

This led me to proactively expand my knowledge by watching documentaries on sociopolitical movements, reading biographies of leaders like Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi fighting oppression, and following writers like Thomas Paine advocating radical reforms. I was fascinated by the power of political philosophy in inspiring real-world transformation.

An opportunity to intern with an MP at the Houses of Parliament allowed me unique insider perspectives on British politics. I closely observed the law-making process, party dynamics, and constituency responsibilities which reinforced deeper theoretical lessons from academic study. Attending parliamentary debates sharpened my critical thinking abilities as I analysed the argumentative techniques employed. Interacting with MPs from multiple parties also enlightened me on the varying ideological approaches which influence policy decisions. This first-hand experience solidified my passion for the multifaceted world of politics.

My interest in justice led me to participate extensively in school debates where I relished intellectual sparring, rhetorical skill development, and the construction of rational arguments. As president of the debating society in Year 13, I helped mentor junior students on persuasive speaking and logical reasoning to guide the school to county finals wins. In national Model United Nations events, building strong positions on complex global issues based on geopolitical constraints further honed my critical analysis and problem-solving abilities that will aid in my PPE study.

PPE’s interdisciplinary nature offers the perfect platform to advance my multipronged interests. Oxford’s tutorial approach will stretch my thinking capacities through rigorous engagement with eminent experts at the frontiers of their fields. The vibrant, diverse student communities I interacted with on-campus visits also strongly appealed to me; just the sort of collegial yet competitively stimulating PPE environment I seek to fulfil my potential as I chart my path in public service. I am confident my proactive passion for politics, honed philosophical perspectives, strong economics foundations, communication and leadership skills, and fierce work ethic make me well prepared to thrive on this prestigious course.

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Successful Personal Statement For Law At Oxford

Last Updated: 6th April 2022

Author: Chloe Hewitt

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 Law applicant’s Personal Statement that helped secure a place at Oxford University. The Law Course at Oxford offers a world-class opportunity to develop a diverse set of skills which you will be able to apply in many different situations.

Read on to see how this candidate managed to secure an offer from a world-class department.  

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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When you enrol in our  Oxbridge Law Premium Programme , you’re getting the best possible support for all aspects of your application. Your tutor will give you actionable feedback on your Personal Statement drafts, with insider tips on how to improve and make your  Personal Statement Oxbridge quality  for the best chances of success.  

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Law Personal Statement

Law is a set of rules and guidelines imposed upon a society which reflect its moral consciousness, guided and guarded by the judiciary. I believe everyone has the right to be judged objectively by their own laws. I am fascinated by the process of examining legal arguments, by how the outcome of a case hinges on presentation of the evidence and by the law’s status as the ultimate arbiter of ‘justice.’ It is this desire to study the analytical process and underlying principles of jurisprudence that motivates me to study law academically.

Preparing for my extended project, I studied Plato’s Republic and how his analyses of different societies are relevant to modern Britain. Examining the common flaws between our own society and those depicted in Republic made me appreciate the subtlety of the law in its present-day form: many of Plato’s proposed solutions to these flaws undermined what are viewed today as personal rights. This led me to reflect on how laws protect us, and also how their intricacies create a doctrine to which people adhere, both complying and incorporating it in their own morality.

Investigating Plato’s ideal political system, I considered the contrast between how his laws were devised and their status in our own society. Plato’s ‘Guardians’ (not unlike our own judiciary) were relied on both to codify and interpret the law. While their decisions were considered to be benevolent, society was expected to conform to laws dictated by a separate class. The situation in the UK is quite different: statute law, as well as case law, often reflects current popular opinion. Sarah’s law (the parents’ right to check the criminal record of any carer for their child) was the direct result of a popular campaign. Whether it is better to have a system of laws that evolve with society or one that is dictated by a separate body is just one example of the ethical questions behind the law that intrigue me.

Seeking experience in the area of law that first attracted me, I assisted a criminal barrister in a Bristol chambers, including client interviews for petty offences and note taking in Crown Court, where we were prosecuting an alleged serial attempted rapist. The defendant’s decision to dismiss his lawyers to defend himself brought home the need for a professional intermediary to ensure fair interaction of the individual with the protocol of the law. Examining case files while shadowing a Queen’s Counsel specialising in public and taxation law, I was struck by how even the most powerful individual or company is still bound to observe the law. I sought exposure to corporate and commercial law with a local solicitor, where I worked through a practical example of employment law to determine whether a client had a case. This close reading of legal documents was a rewarding and stimulating experience, confirming my commitment to study law.

Captaining rugby teams at school (now 1st XV), club and county level, I have learned how to listen and how to lead; understanding and incorporating others’ opinions or feelings in my interaction was key to encouraging progress for the individual or group, to motivate them and help them achieve their own potential. I developed these skills further mentoring in French and as a Sports Ambassador for local primary schools.

Rugby is like society: there are fixed laws that define the game and how it is played, but they are constantly tested by the flair of the players. As a result, the referee must both interpret and enforce the application of those laws; in Plato’s terms, he is both guardian and auxiliary. The application of the law to dynamic situations and how different outcomes might be achieved depending upon points of interpretation has fascinated me for years.

I am strongly motivated to study the law’s mechanics and with this passion, combined with the necessary determination and underlying skills, I will relish the task of appreciating and mastering law as an intellectual discipline in its own right.

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Good Points Of The Personal Statement

This is an impressive personal statement in many regards and was clearly well received. The student opens with a definition of law, but then goes on to interpret what they understand it to mean, and by doing so has given some insight into their personality and understanding. It is clear from the outset that the student’s interest is an academic one, and this will gain them favour from top academic institutions if sustained. The discussion of the student’s extended project is given a clear legal dimension, and the student competently makes cross-links, which display their strong grasp of sources of UK law- having a current example to underline this point. In this instance, the discussion of work experience complements the academic interests well because of the way the statement is structured – by saving work experience till later, the student made clear that their primary focus is academic and intellectual, but they do have a commitment to engaging with the subject at a practical level.

Bad Points Of The Personal Statement

Having two paragraphs about rugby probably gives the sport more attention than is necessary. Moreover, while the student has endeavoured to present all their skills as relevant to law, the links can read as somewhat tenuous, particularly in the sporting examples. Replacing one of these paragraphs with one about some wider reading in a purely legal area of interest (as opposed to reading as part of the extended project) would have been a more beneficial addition.

UniAdmissions Overall Score:

This is an extremely strong personal statement. The student clearly gets across their interest in studying law, but more than this it is unquestionable that their interest is in studying law as an academic discipline rather than practicing law as a career once they have graduated. Structurally the statement flows well, and covers sufficient facets of the student’s activities and interests to explain why they want to study law and why they would be successful in doing so. The only real improvement to be made would be to add discussion of a time the student engaged in academic reading or research into a legal topic beyond what is required of them in their studies.

This Personal Statement for Law is a good example of demonstrating motivation and development 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.

There are plenty more successful personal statements and expert guides on our Free Personal Statement Resources page.

Successful Personal Statement For Natural Science (Physical) At Cambridge

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