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What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is: 

  • the centrepiece of your university application 
  • a short essay about you and why you are right for the course you are applying for 
  • your chance to show off your knowledge, skills and experience, using detailed examples and evidence 
  • an explanation of which areas of research you want to undertake (especially at postgraduate level) 
  • an opportunity to tell us why you want to study your chosen course, using detailed examples and evidence 

Word limit

UCAS applicants (full-time undergraduate courses): you can write up to 4000 characters (approximately 600 words). 

Direct applicants to Birkbeck (part-time undergraduate and full-time and part-time postgraduate courses): we recommend you aim for approximately 600 words, although there is no strict limit.

Please note, there is a limit of 4000 characters if you would like feedback on your personal statement. Read more about our feedback service for undergraduates.

Find out how to apply to Birkbeck


You should start working on your personal statement as soon as possible. 

UCAS applicants (full-time undergraduate courses): the first deadline for all UCAS courses is in January, but you can apply later, depending on the availability of places. 

Direct applicants to Birkbeck(part-time undergraduate and full-time and part-time postgraduate courses): we advise you to apply as soon as possible, to ensure you secure a place and to give yourself enough time to complete the application and enrolment process.