UK Personal Statements: Everything You Need To Know




When it comes to university applications, the UK has very specific requirements regarding the content of a personal statement and the systems used to submit it. If you are not sure of the basics surrounding UK personal statements, you can find out everything you need to know right here…

Personal statements are a required element for every UK university application. This process is managed by UCAS, and applicants must write a single personal statement that covers all course choices for undergraduate study. It should evidence your suitability for the course and be well-written.

But what exactly does UCAS do and what should be in your personal statement? You can find the answers to these questions below, along with a wide range of free resources to help you make your personal statement successful.

Personal Statements and the UCAS Process

UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) is the independent organisation that manages the application process for almost all students applying to higher education in the UK. Regardless of where in the world you are applying from, it is highly likely that your application will be submitted via the UCAS platform. Both undergraduate applications (or bachelor’s degrees) and postgraduate applications (master’s degrees) are managed this way, as are many doctoral applications.

If you are applying for an Art Foundation course, you may need to complete direct applications for some places and UCAS applications for others, but individual institutions will make this clear to you. In any case, all systems of application require some form of personal statement as a core element. Conservatoire applications for Music and Drama almost all run through UCAS as well.

When you make a UK undergraduate application via UCAS, you will need to upload a digital version of your personal statement, which can be no longer than 4000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines. If you want to get started with this process, you can check out my post here, or you can double check your statement is the best it can be by using these powerful strategies.

With so few characters available to you, and with the value of a compelling personal statement so high, I usually recommend to students that they use software like Grammarly to help them write an accurate and concise application. Most do, and if you want to join them, just check out the free package here, or hit the banner.

You can set up a UCAS account for free here. You don’t have to pay any fees to UCAS until you formally submit your application. If you don’t end up sending it off, you don’t ever need to pay.

What is the Point of a Personal Statement?

UK universities require candidates to submit a personal statement. The point of this request is clear; writing a successful personal statement is challenging, and the quality and effectiveness of each attempt offers valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of individual applicants.

If you are looking for some outstanding ideas for personal statements, you can check out the free guide I’ve put together here. In the meantime, here are the 8 elements that make a great personal statement so effective:

  • Evidence of writing capability and foundational skills. A well written, structured and proofread personal statement is a strong indicator that the applicant will have the skills to manage the broader demands of study in higher education.
  • Evidence of academic suitability for the course or subject. Alongside your achieved or pending qualifications, an effective statement should show that your understanding of your field of study is at a suitably high level.
  • Evidence of wider subject knowledge. A great personal statement demonstrates a level of knowledge and insight gained by reading and researching beyond the formal school curriculum.
  • Evidence of relevant practical experience. Outlining relevant high-level practical skills you already possess is extremely valuable, especially when the course you are applying for demands them. Don’t dismiss their value.
  • Evidence academic research skills. Degree study is built on the ability to complete detailed academic research independently of the lecture hall. You should not simply outline that you know how to do this, but you must evidence the ways in which you have applied this skill in practice.
  • Evidence of transferable skills. All personal statements are strengthened by the inclusion of relevant transferable skills, illustrated with genuine context. If you are a great team player, explain why.
  • Evidence of academic and professional ambition. Sharing your achievable and appropriate goals, both for the course and your progression beyond it is essential. It shows that you understand the value of the course and that you are the right fit for it.
  • Evidence of individuality and character. A personal statement that provides a snapshot of your energy, personality and unique voice is far more likely to be successful. Just don’t write too informally, and do not bend the facts.

Bearing this last point in mind, if you are unsure just how original a personal statement should be, you can read all about getting the balance right here.

Top Tips for Writing Your Personal Statement

Admissions tutors aren’t seeking Nobel laureates. They’re looking for enthusiasm for the course being applied for, and self-reflection into why you’d be suitable to study it. What value could you add to the course?

Cicely Oliver

When it comes to advice for writing the best personal statement you can, it is easy to make a list of suggestions along the lines of ‘be yourself’ or ‘do your research’. However, UK personal statements do not offer applicants any room for content that doesn’t earn its place, and these top tips are similarly direct and purposeful:

One of the best ways to ensure that your personal statement is exceptional is to get some 1-1 personal support. I work with applicants from all over the world, helping them to develop the content that they have into compelling and successful personal statements.

I won’t write it for you, but I will help you to write the very best statement you can. Why not check out my service here?


Good luck on your journey, and don’t forget to contact me if you’d like to work together. You’ve got this! D

Research and content verified by Personal Statement Planet.

David Hallen

I've worked in the Further Education and University Admissions sector for nearly 20 years as a teacher, department head, Head of Sixth Form, UCAS Admissions Advisor, UK Centre Lead and freelance personal statement advisor, editor and writer. And now I'm here for you...

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