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Writing a personal statement to apply for a master's course

If you apply for a master's, you need to write a personal statement or statement of purpose to show you're ready for the course. Find out what we look for.

A student writing on a laptop.
Your personal statement is your opportunity to show that a master’s course is right for you.

Why you need to write a personal statement

When you apply to study for a master's degree at Bath, you need to write a personal statement as part of your application.

A personal statement is your opportunity to show that a master’s course is right for you and that you have the potential to complete it successfully. You should show us you have a clear understanding of what studying the course will involve. 

Some people call this a 'statement of purpose' or something similar.

Who will read your personal statement

A member of the Admissions team will read your personal statement. We'll use it as part of the process to decide who we can offer a place to.

Planning your personal statement

Read the application criteria

Make sure you carefully read and follow any instructions on the application form so that you include everything we want to see.

Do some research

Start by researching the course, department, and University thoroughly for each new application. Think about what evidence you can include to show you have the right skills, knowledge, and experience for the course. If you’re naturally modest about your abilities, consider asking a current tutor or mentor what they might include.

If the course entry requirements demand a specific skill, like maths or programming, you should be able to show how you meet this requirement.

Psychology applicants

For some of our Psychology courses, there are specific criteria for what you should include in your personal statement. Read about these on the Psychology course pages.

Writing an effective personal statement

Give yourself plenty of time to write your statement. Don’t leave it to the last minute.

Decide how you will structure the personal statement. While there’s no single structure that’s ideal for every application, focus on presenting your case in a clear, logical way.

State the name of the programme and the University, and write a separate personal statement for each application. Even if the courses you are applying for are very similar, you should write a tailored response for each one.

In most cases, there will be a word limit of 400 to 600 words.  

Write your personal statement in your own words. Don’t copy one from somewhere else.

General writing tips

  • Write in a style that is clear, concise, and not too elaborate or complicated
  • Write in active voice - for example, 'I completed a placement in 2022', not 'A placement was completed in 2022'
  • Structure your statement using short sentences and paragraphs
  • Be as definite as possible in the way you word your statement - for example, instead of saying, “I hope to do this”, say ‘I want to,” or “I intend to do this.”
  • Make sure you only include relevant information - if something you mention isn’t related to your skills or why you want to study the course, then don’t include it 
  • Don’t overstate your achievements; it may strike a boastful tone that’s unlikely to strengthen your application
  • Don’t repeat information that you've already covered elsewhere in the application
  • Avoid using clichéd phrases or quotes as opening lines and instead, go for a succinct summary of your academic and employment background  

You should always proofread your personal statement and remove any grammatical or spelling errors. It can be hard to spot mistakes in your own writing, so ask someone else to review it too.

What to include in your personal statement

Demonstrate motivation and enthusiasm

When we read your personal statement, we'll be looking for evidence that, after researching your options, you’ve decided that this is the best university and degree for you. We want to see that you’re excited about the opportunity to study here, and the degree fits in with your long-term goals.

Consider including:

  • a specific reason, or reasons, why you want to do the course
  • a specific reason why you want to do the course at Bath
  • an explanation of how the course relates to what you want to do in the future
  • evidence of your commitment and enthusiasm

Saying ‘I am committed and enthusiastic’ is not enough. Demonstrate it through your knowledge of the course, department and its research, for example, or your passion for your field of study.

Highlight your suitability

Your personal statement needs to showcase the skills, knowledge, and experience which make you suitable for the course. We want to see that you have the subject-specific and transferable skills to succeed and thrive on the course.   

Academic achievements

Consider including examples of academic achievements, with an explanation of how they’ve prepared you for the content and demands of the course. You could also give an explanation of how the course links to, and potentially builds on, what you've done in the past. 

Professional achievements

Include any relevant work experience. Use your duties, tasks, and responsibilities during the job or placement to help convey what you gained from the experience.

Relevant hobbies and interests

You can also include your hobbies and volunteering activities. These can highlight positive qualities and experience that add to the picture of you as a suitable candidate.

Other skills

Give evidence of transferable skills. These could include presentation skills, group work, written communication skills, independent learning, perseverance, and time management. They can help to indicate how well you are likely to perform on course assessments and course requirements.

If you've overcome challenges because of a disability or long-term health condition, sharing this can show evidence of achievement, strength of character, and sought-after skills. Talking about personal development you've gained because of a disability can also make you stand out from other applicants.  Read more about how we support disabled students.

Try to use more recent examples of your experience, skills and strengths. You can also include details of any relevant experience you plan to gain before starting your degree.

Mitigating circumstances

If you've experienced any difficult or mitigating circumstances that may have affected previous studies, you are welcome to include this if you wish to do so. Only include this information if it is relevant to the application.

Contact us

If you have any questions about your postgraduate application or writing a personal statement, get in touch.

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