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Ma History Personal Statement Examples

How to write a personal statement for Masters courses

A good personal statement can mean the difference between getting an offer and being rejected. Your personal statement should show us that you are the right person for the course.

Learn how to:

Planning your personal statement 

A personal statement is a piece of writing that you submit as part of your application. It is a statement of academic interests and should not contain any autobiographical information about your personal life.

Instead, it should show us that you are the right person for Sussex by telling us why you want to study your course, and any extra information about your achievements to date. 

See our Masters courses for more information

When you have finished planning your personal statement, you can use our postgraduate application system to start your application. 

You need to:

  • carefully read the information required of you 
  • research the course you are applying for, so that you can explain why you want to study it. If you are applying for more than one course, do not use the same statement for all applications.

The following questions may help you plan your personal statement: 

  • Why do you want to study a Masters and how will it benefit you?
  • How does the course fit your skill set?
  • How do you stand out from the crowd - e.g. work experience?
  • What are you aspiring to be/do in your future career?
  • How can your work contribute to the department/University/society?

If you're applying for a subject that is in a different field to your undergraduate degree, tell us why you have decided to change your direction of study. 

Think about: 

  • how you will bring fresh insight to your course as a result of your undergraduate degree
  • the reasons for deciding to change your field of study
  • how changing your direction of study will help you with your future career.  


Use a tight structure in your personal statement and make sure each paragraph logically follows on from the one before. 

Your personal statement must: 

  • have an eye-catching and interesting introduction, and an engaging middle part and conclusion
  • have an introduction that acts as a framework for the rest of your statement, with the main part of your statement detailing your interests, experience and knowledge
  • be between 250 and 500 words 
  • have short sentences of no more than 25-30 words
  • use headings (if you wish) to break up the content - for example, 'Why this university?' 'Why this subject?' 'Ability', 'Personal experience' and 'Career aspirations'
  • use a sentence structure where you: make a claim and back this claim up with evidence. This can be achieved by talking about your work experience and academic interests. 


    'My passion for Psychology stems from my interest in how dementia affects the personality of patients suffering with the condition. That's why I spent my gap year working with the Alzheimer's Society, supporting patients and families by visiting them at home and holding surgeries to give sufferers and carers someone to talk to.'

  • don't start with cliched and overused sentences:  'I have always wanted to study' or 'I feel I have always had a passion for this subject.' Instead tell us what has influenced you to study this course. 


    'It was not until my grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and ischaemic dementia that the link between brain functioning and cognition became a passion.

    Although a most unpleasant experience, the enormity of the precision at which the brain functions to produce our cognitive abilities, socially acceptable behaviours and intricate physiological processes astounded me.

    I found myself questioning the cognitive functions and human behaviours I had previously just accepted, desperate to understand how the unseen and seemingly small entities within the brain could impact our daily behaviour.'

  • the conclusion should sum up your main points, reflect on your main accomplishments and clearly show your desire to study.


Your personal statement is where you show us your commitment, dedication and motivation for studying the course. It is your chance to show us the course is for you.

Your personal statement should: 

  • give strong reasons as to why you want to study the course at Sussex. This could be for your future career or because of the University's reputation
  • mention relevant study - including projects, dissertations, essays - or work experience 
  • provide evidence of your key skills including, research, critical thinking, communication, organisation, planning and time-management and show how you can contribute to the department
  • show what makes you stand out as a candidate
  • explain who your main influences have been and why
  • draw on your other experiences: for example are you a member of a society, have you written any papers or won any awards, scholarships or prizes?
  • highlight your career aspirations and show how the course will help you achieve them.

See an example personal statement [PDF 31.95KB] 


Your tone should be positive and enthusiastic. It should show your willngness to learn and persuade us you have what it takes to suceed on one of our courses. 

You should: 

  • use fresh and exciting language to make your application stand out, and use engaging opening paragraphs
  • use accurate grammar, punctuation and spelling 
  • use clear language in short sentences and avoid extravagant claims
  • avoid using generic terms and talk specifically about the course. 


    Don't: 'I was inspired by the University's world-renowned researchers and world-leading facilities.'

    Do: 'I was inspired to study Animal Biology because of the groundbreaking work into the behaviour of bees that is being led by Sussex Professor Francis Ratnieks. I follow the work of the University of Sussex Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects and would be proud to study in such a renowned department and contribute to its highly ranked research.'

  •  proofread your statement and ask a friend or relative to read it. 

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Post-application enquiries:
+44 (0)1273 877773

From its unique vitality and power, to its ever-changing relevance, History has always fascinated me. The depth and diversity offered by a History degree excites me and I am attracted by the way it encourages us to both question and relate to the past. With the benefit of hindsight that history gives us, we are able to trace and reflect on the past, and, at the same time, we are better equipped for the future and for me this is particularly insightful.

The quest for Black Civil Rights, Britain's Appeasement policy up to 1939, Tsarist Russia and, particularly, the experience of War, are all areas which evoke specific interest in me. A degree which offers study in a field of interest appeals to my intellectual curiosity. What really separates History from other subjects is the sheer scope for debate and analysis; with so many conflicting interpretations, none necessarily 'correct' and this, I feel, is what makes the study of History so stimulating.

My curiosity for the subject was fuelled during an English lesson when our class studied Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est.". It left an indelible mark on me with the poignant evocation of the soldiers' plight during World War One and their awakening to the futility of war. From this point onward, I was determined to further my knowledge of the historical context in which this poem was written and this definitely strengthened my conviction with regard to studying History at a higher level. This enthusiasm has never ebbed but has gradually swelled and this passion for the subject, I believe, is so crucial for fully appreciating History. My passion for the subject has informed my reading choices for my Advanced Higher English dissertation and my interest in Civil Rights issues in America is reflected in this. My studies in English have enriched my understanding of the struggle for equality in the Deep South.

Clearly, the study of History has developed my skills in writing; enabling me to reach intelligent and convincing conclusions on historical issues. The skill of analysing multiple opinions has, I feel, improved my transferable skills, ranging from questioning to writing thoughtfully with understanding.

My work experience placement at a primary school served to confirm my desire to study History at University and perhaps with a view to going into teaching. I received a remarkable insight into the determination, patience and energy required to work in such a profession. During the placement, I helped children with class-work and I particularly enjoyed helping with their newspaper reports on the impending merging of two schools. They would ask relatively simple questions from spelling to grammar difficulties and it felt good to be able to help them broaden their questions and consider different views on the issue. The experience proved to be deeply enriching, rewarding and ultimately enjoyable.

I became a prefect in Sixth Year and through this I have gained important leadership skills and the capacity to work as part of a team. I help a younger student as part of the learning support programme, an experience that is proving to be particularly rewarding given that the student is developing greater confidence in reading and, indeed, themself. I am a conscientious, sensitive and committed student and am confident that I have the qualities to succeed at University. I would approach my studies at Edinburgh with enthusiasm and would welcome the challenge of a demanding degree course, and the opportunity to contribute to University life

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