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Personal Statement

The Personal Statement is your opportunity to be creative. You should use it above all to tell us why you want to spend three or more years studying your chosen subject at university, and give us some things to talk to you about in the interview. The list in the UCAS guide gives a good summary of the things you might want to cover, but for all of them the same advice is valid:

  • Be personal. Tell us things that will set your application apart from others
  • Be concrete. It is easier for you to show your enthusiasm by giving us brief details
    of things you have actually done, and why you found them interesting.
  • Be specific. Pick out highlights of your experience in Maths, Science or
    Computing to give depth to the general picture.

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 climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for your Duke of Edinburgh will undoubtedly make you a more interesting person, but it probably isn't going to make you a better (potential) computer scientist. It's extremely unlikely that having this on your CV would make the difference between you gaining a place or not. However, if you are achieving excellent grades in relevant subjects, and you have the time to excel in something else on the side, we will notice your ability to balance your time between studies and other activities.

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.

Any health issues or disabilities can only be mentioned by the referee with the candidate’s permission. If you have any issues that you would like the universities and colleges to be aware of when considering your application, these should be included in the reference rather than the personal statement, so discuss this with your referee.

Here are some other suggestions on writing a Computer Science-focused personal statement, put together by one of our tutors. If you follow these guidelines, then you will help us to form a mental picture of you as a person committed to your chosen course of study. We will be likely to remember your application even after we have read a pile of others, and to be looking forward to meeting you at the interview.