Dept of Psychological Sciences | Study here | Undergraduate personal statement
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Writing a personal statement for the BSc Psychology

We aim to offer places on degree programmes only to those people we believe capable of successfully completing the programme. Given that completing a degree is a major undertaking, we also want to ensure our students are enrolled on the programme that best suits their interests and needs. Your personal statement is an important source of information about whether a programme is right for you.

When we read a personal statement we are looking for evidence that the applicant:

Understands what the programme is about and what it will equip them to do on graduation

  • We want you to enjoy your time on your degree and to leave satisfied that it has met your needs. It’s important that you understand what your degree will cover and what opportunities will be open to you on graduation. For example, applicants to the BSc Psychology need to demonstrate their awareness that they will be studying a science subject. Also, an understanding of how completing this degree will support their long-term plans. They will leave equipped with a range of transferable skills that support work in a wide range of careers from health to education; management; business, research etc. However, to work as a professional psychologist or as a counsellor, they need to undertake significant further training once they graduate.

Knows if their courses will be taught in the evening

  • Most of our courses are taught in the evening, although some postgraduate programmes are taught in the day. Our programmes are specifically designed to meet the needs of busy Londoners and are mostly taught in the evenings as a consequence. This allows students time for paid work and a range of other activities during the day. We need you to indicate your awareness that most of our courses are taught in the evenings.

Has a realistic plan to manage the demands of university study

  • We know you will have a range of demands on your time. Nonetheless, for each credit awarded you need to spend up to 10 hours studying (including the time you spend in class and working on your assessments). So a 15 credit course equates to 150 hours of study. Obviously the number of hours each student needs to spend studying will vary but we need you to demonstrate that you have understood how much time will be involved in your studies and how you will fit this around your other commitments.

Is sufficiently motivated and ready to complete their studies

  • Successfully completing your studies will be partly about planning. There will be times though when you are under pressure from other commitments and you find your studies challenging. Nonetheless, attending all lectures – (with only the very rare exceptions) and consistently completing assessments within the allocated time are extremely important and have a huge impact on students’ grades. We need to know that you are sufficiently motivated to make it through the more challenging times. So it is helpful to indicate not only why you are studying psychology and what you hope to gain from completing your degree, but what it is that will prod and push you to keep going through the more challenging parts of your studies.

Will make use of the support provided to ensure they achieve their full potential

  • We only offer places to people we believe have the potential to successfully complete our degrees. However we don’t want our students to simply pass their degrees – we want them to do as well as they possibly can. How well you do will relate in part to how well-organised and motivated you are - but there are two further factors that will make a big difference too. One is asking for help when needed. The other is taking time to make use of the training provided to develop the skills you will need in order to excel. The students who achieve the highest marks are often those who have taken the time to develop the skills to succeed at university – and those who asked for help when it was needed. Demonstrating an awareness that you need specific skills to succeed at university will help convince us you have the qualities and attitudes necessary to achieve your full potential. You might, for example, suggest areas in which you might need to develop further. For some people this might be specific study skills; for others it might be English for academic purposes; for others it might be confidence around numbers; etc.

Can communicate effectively

  • We will help you develop skills to communicate effectively in the context of academic psychology. We do however look for evidence that applicants can communicate clearly. Expressing yourself in simple English is completely acceptable – and probably most effective. What we need to see is that you can identify the key points you need to communicate; that you can put these in a logical order; and can communicate them clearly without rambling (or being too brief). An effective personal statement has a brief introduction and conclusion, and is organised in paragraphs, each of which makes a key point and indicates to the reader how this point relates to the previous and subsequent points (even if implicitly).

If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to contact the admissions tutor for the programme you're interested in. We welcome informal chats with prospective students so we can help them find the right programme here or elsewhere.