Durham Physics Personal Statement

Selling yourself in under 4,000 characters to an academic you've never met is pretty daunting even for the most confident sixth-form student. So we've put together some dos and don'ts to make sure you show yourself in the best possible light.

Here are eight don'ts

• Don't spend ages trying to come up with a perfect, snappy first line – write anything and return to it later.

• Don't use cliches. According to the Ucas Guide to Getting into University and College, the most overused opening sentences this year were variations of "from a young age I have always been interested in…" This looks formulaic and is a waste of characters.

• Famous quotes should be avoided, as these will be found in countless other applications. For instance, this line by Coco Chanel was found in 189 applications for fashion courses this year: "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only."

• Don't list your interests, demonstrate them. Professor Alan Gange, head of the department of biological sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, says: "Actually doing something, for example joining a national society or volunteering for a conservation organisation, tells me that students have a passion."

• Style matters. Don't be chatty and use slang, but on the other hand, don't be pretentious. Cathy Gilbert, director of customer strategy at Ucas, says: "If you try too hard to impress with long words that you are not confident using, the focus of your writing may be lost."

• Don't ask too many people for advice. Input from teachers is helpful, but it is important that the student's personality comes across.

Nicole Frith, 19, who has just started a BSc in Geography at the University of Durham, asked two teachers for advice on content. "I would seriously advise against asking teacher after teacher," she said. "There is no such thing as a perfect personal statement, and everyone has different opinions." Most admissions offices are happy to give general advice, and the Ucas website has video guides on how to plan and write your statement.

• Don't be tempted to let someone else write your personal statement for you. A recent news report says sixth-formers are paying up to £350 on the internet for personal statements written by university students. Ucas, which uses fraud detection software to identify cheating, warns of "serious consequences".

• Dont' skimp on paragraphs, despite their negative impact on line count. You want your statement to be readable.

And eight dos

• Organisation is the key. Caroline Apsey, 19, who started a medical degree at the University of Leeds this term, says: "Before I started writing, I made bullet points of everything I wanted to include, and ordered them from most important to least."

• Leave yourself plenty of time for editing. "Start writing early, so that you have lots of time to re-read it with fresh eyes," Caroline says. Then edit and edit and edit again.

• Be specific. Lee Hennessy, deputy head of admissions and recruitment at the University of Bath, says: "Don't just say, you're interested in a subject because it's interesting. Ask yourself, what it is, specifically, about the subject that interests you?"

Lee Marsden, associate dean of admissions for the faculty of arts and humanities at the University of East Anglia, agrees: "We want to know what excites the student: perhaps a book they have read or a play they have seen. There needs to be a hook."

• Show you are up to date with developments in your subject: perhaps you could analyse a recent journal article or news event.

"You need to tune in to what's current in your subject," says Louise Booth, assistant director of sixth form at Fulford school in York. "For example, if you're a politics candidate: have you been to see the prime minister or your local MP speak?"

• Around 80% of your statement should be dedicated to your studies and work experience, and 20% to extra-curricular activities. Hobbies are valuable, but must be used to reveal something relevant about the applicant.

"A simple 'I have done' list is not useful," says Helen Diffenthal, assistant principal for advice and guidance at the Sixth Form College, Farnborough. "Saying that you were captain of the cricket team doesn't make any difference unless you use it to show that you can manage your time effectively."

• Be original but treat humour with caution – jokes can fall flat.

"Original is excellent," says Gange. "I once saw a statement written in the style of a tabloid journalism article. It was factual and entertaining; the student gained a place here and got a first."

"We let through quirky statements if the student is quirky," says Booth. "Don't try to be funny if that's not you – it won't work."

• Correct spelling and grammar is vital, so use the spell-check on your computer and get other people, such as teachers, to proofread your statement.

• In the end, honesty is the best policy. Tell the admissions tutor, in your own words, why you deserve a place. "Just be yourself," says Nicole. "That worked for me."

These UCAS personal statements have been kindly provided by students applying to The University of Durham. You can click on one of the links below to view the entire statement and find out if the applicant was offered a place.

You can also view our entire collection of personal statements or view personal statements for application at other universities.

Engineering Personal Statement
The art of engineering is applying scientific theories to design. The fundamental principles that are applied to products and structures are paramount and by studying engineering I am hoping to learn how engineers use these principles and then integrate them into designs...

History Personal Statement
I have always read widely and, due to my English Exhibition at Woodbridge School and my enjoyment of writing, at one point I had hoped to read English at university. However, whilst studying World War One poetry for my English Literature GCSE, I found that I was most interested in the times and conditions in which the author was writing...

Business Management Personal Statement
There is a rapid growth in global organisational concepts, crystallised in Japanese business philosophy, to be as effective as possible in the most efficient way. New technology involving networking information and automation influences the behaviour of business and enables significant transformation...

Maths and Philosophy Personal Statement
I believe that there are two ways to look at how the world develops: the first is through the progress of history and human civilisation, and the second is through the progress of knowledge and human understanding...

History Personal Statement
I am captivated by the diversity and depth offered by a History degree; attracted by the way it encourages us to be analytical of the values and patterns of past societies. It was in my final year of secondary school that I was awarded the History Attainment Award, although my desire to study History dates back to an earlier age when I visited the site of the allied landings in Normandy at just eleven years old...

Psychology Personal Statement
Psychology surrounds us. I often observe my class mates and ask myself why they are so different, struggling with attention or eating disorders. While looking for reasons, I also want to find ways to help them and I am confident that Psychology will give me the means to do so...

Sociology & Anthropology Personal Statement
The study of Sociology and Anthropology is appealing to me because of the diversity of topics they cover and their relevance to our world today. In an increasingly globalised world, it is important to have a deep understanding of the economic and political institutions that govern, and the cultural backgrounds and values of its citizens...

Archaeology Personal Statement
Society today is fundamentally founded on key events in our history. Archaeology plays a key part in providing us with vital evidence about our past, teaching us more about how our ancestors lived. This intrigues me, discovering the story behind each artefact and how it affected who we are as a society today...

Computer Science Personal Statement
I find it amazing to watch as the digital revolution sculpts society at a rate that has never before been seen; there is so much to still be discovered. Quantum computing is a topic that particularly interests me, stemming from my studies and keen interest in physics...

French and Arabic Personal Statement
In studying French and Arabic, I am eager to compare two mutually influential languages and cultures, particularly their overlapping history and its cultural representations. I decided to defer my entry to retake my Maths A2 and plan to turn this to my advantage by working and living in France, putting what I've already learnt of the French language and culture into practice...

Physics Personal Statement
The elegance of the scientific subjects, in particular physics is what has established my eagerness for a deeper insight into the subject. What sets physics apart from the other sciences, in my opinion, is that it can be practically applied to all instances of life...

Maths and Spanish Personal Statement
For as long as I have recognised words and numbers, I have seen a connection between the two. As I progressed in the AS Mathematics course I realised how drawn I was to the subject, motivating me to spend 2 weeks at school over the summer holidays learning 2 entire AS Further Maths modules, in order to take the full A-level course in one year...

Languages Personal Statement
At the age of eight, a friend introduced me to Guy Hamilton's 1969 film 'Battle of Britain'. This instilled in me two things: my doomed childhood ambition to be a Spitfire pilot, long since grudgingly abandoned, but also, perhaps ironically, a love for the sound and feel of the German language that has stayed with me all through the intervening decade...

English Personal Statement (Mature Student)
Having worked on a secure psychiatric unit for two years, caring for many people unable to or precluded from following their dreams due to mental illness, as well as over a decade employed in positions just to pay the bills, I am finally pursuing my dream of becoming a published novelist...

Economics/Accounting Personal Statement
The art of Mathematics requires a thorough mind-set of logic and practicality; this same mentality is reciprocated in many corresponding fields such as Economics, Accounting and Finance. I feel that, with the knowledge of a combination of these subjects, I will be fully inclined to peruse a career in the world of finance...

Biomedical Science Personal Statement
Venturing into the unknown and never-ending world of science and medicine has been a passion and desire of mine for the majority of my life. I am captivated by how a simple idea can be transformed into a reality that can pave the way for new cures and more advanced anatomical understanding...

Physics Personal Statement
With philosophy at its foundation, and mathematics as its language, physics is full of profound insights into the workings of the universe, from the tiniest quantum interactions to the forming of the most distant galaxies...

Geology/Earth Sciences Personal Statement
A visit to a collection of minerals and gemstones while holidaying in the Lake District in 2006 opened my eyes to the fascinating subject of geology. Seeing naturally dull rock split open to reveal a myriad of vibrant crystals posed many questions: where had this discovery been made and, more intriguingly, how had it formed? My wish to find out more about these mineral forms and the rocks that had sheltered their intricate beauty started my interest in geology...

Geography Personal Statement
In a dynamic world, the study of geography is increasingly important. The diversity of the subject and the interaction between the physical environment and human population is becoming even more evident with climate change and globalisation influencing our everyday lives...

Biochemistry Personal Statement
The need to survive is a remarkable thing, for it has allowed evolution to equip organisms with a range of extraordinary capabilities in order to stay alive. Since reading 'Why Geese Don't Get Obese' by Widmaier, my interests have developed in the molecular adaptations of animals; for example, the antifreeze protein that prevents the blood of Antarctic Notothenioid fishes from turning into ice...

Philosophy Personal Statement
“The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind is curiosity”. I believe that when the mind is allowed to think outside the pre-defined constraints of society, the different directions in which it can travel are infinite...

Natural Sciences Personal Statement
My perception of the sciences has changed over time as my understanding of them has developed. Subjects that once appeared isolated and independent now merge into one coherent field, each interacting with another...

History & Economics Personal Statement
Is one of the useful lessons of the Great Depression that the European periphery cannot restore its competitiveness whilst fixed to an overvalued currency without inducing a debt deflation trap? A study of economics and history can help illuminate such contemporary challenges...

Maths Personal Statement
What I love about maths is that it has no limits. It fascinates me: the formulae, the theorems, the logic. My original interest in the subject was triggered several years ago when I started discussing maths and physics with my dad...

German and English Literature Personal Statement
Email correspondence with a friend in Berlin during the celebrations of the twentieth anniversary of the German reunification gave me an insight into the importance and relevance of Germany’s past both within the country itself, and throughout Europe...

Biology Personal Statement
My interest in Biology started at a very young age due to spending a lot of time outdoors. I am intrigued by the functioning of living organisms and how they are all linked; one small change in one species will affect a whole range of others...

Physics & Astrophysics Personal Statement
I have always considered Physics to be a captivating area of study, whether it is a question of how aspects of it work, or indeed why they work. As such, I have found deep fascination in studying Physics, as it is able to provide answers (as well as evidence) to such queries...

History Personal Statement
Listening to my grandparents' accounts of air raid drills, blackouts and the arrival of evacuees in North Wales during the Second World War triggered my interest in history. My curiosity about the past was further inspired by looking at family photographs and heirlooms and exploring their backgrounds...

Physics Personal Statement (International Student)
Some people believe there is no universal key to the mysteries of the world, but I am convinced otherwise. Since early childhood when my parents, both physicists by training, patiently answered all my why-questions and encouraged me in my fascination with astronomy, I have been thinking of Physics as the perfect science that can unveil all the secrets that fascinate humanity...

Archaeology and Anthropology Personal Statement
Archaeology & Anthropology personal statement For as long as I can remember, I have been skilled and deeply interested in areas of both the sciences and humanities, particularly in human evolution, history and geography...

Philosophy Personal Statement
Philosophy has shaped the foundations of all human life and thought. The importance of philosophic enquiry can be traced from the beginning of civilization to the heart of modern society, and I believe that the ability to ask and attempt to answer philosophical questions is one of the key attributes we associate with being human...

Economics and Politics/Geography Personal Statement
My desire to study Economics in combination with the Social Sciences stems primarily from my interest in these fields but also from the fact that these two disciplines compliment each other exceptionally well...

Anthropology and Archaeology Personal Statement
My interest in culture first started when I began to attend my local Hindu Temple with my friend in primary school. I was highly interested in how her surroundings differed from my own and enjoyed immersing myself in her way of life...

Law Personal Statement
I first became interested in studying law after visiting my local Magistrates' Court in Melbourne, Australia. After witnessing the impact a lawyer could have on the outcome of a case and on a person's life I saw that a career in law offered a career in which my work made an impact in the world around me and a career in which I could directly see the consequences of my work...

Law Personal Statement
My desire to study law at university is firmly rooted in my interest in world events and also with helping others. Law effects our everyday lives almost without us noticing. If we look at the news, there is always an aspect of law up for debate...

Maths Personal Statement
The idea of proof has always held a real fascination for me. The process of starting from a simple set of axioms and deriving almost any mathematical truth (putting Godel to one side) is what truly separates Mathematics from any other subject...

Economics & Politics Personal Statement
My perception of the world changed on September the 11th 2001, when I returned home from school to find that a terrorist organisation had attacked the World Trade Centre. The attack destroyed my feeling of security, provoking me to probe and question the world around me in a way I hadn't before and sparking my interest in current affairs...

Civil Engineering Personal Statement
Modern life is almost wholly dependent on engineering. It is everywhere and it is always changing, and it is this in particular which attracts me to civil engineering. I hope that in this field I can combine my knowledge and skills in physics and maths, two subjects which particularly interest me, and also work in an area which is both diverse and exciting...

English and Philosophy Personal Statement
English has always been at the forefront of my mind, whether it be writing storybooks as a child, play-writing as a teen, or analysing literature at A Level. I enjoy the thrill of writing creatively but equally enjoy composing non-literary pieces where I can put across my views, inform or debate...

Anthropology Personal Statement
For me the appeal of anthropology is that it draws on a wide range of disciplines, and that it combines theory with empirical study. Anthropology is a useful discipline in the world, where, for example, its use in developing countries is needed to give appropriate consideration as to how to successfully aid development without harming or diluting the country's indigenous cultures...

Politics Personal Statement
The unpredictability of politics is what makes it such a fascinating subject for me. A particular topic that sparked my interest is the extremely volatile relationship between one established superpower and one rising giant: the USA and India...

PPE Personal Statement
Lester Brown recently stated: Socialism failed because it couldn't tell the economic truth; capitalism may fail because it couldn't tell the ecological truth. My 6th form study of Economics has led me to question the ecological and social price of free market capitalism with its underlying aim for continual economic growth...

Business Finance (Investment) Personal Statement
Investments are about timing, opportunity and choices. The choices we make influence the goals we aspire to achieve. In the business world these three words have the ability to enhance profits or cause failure; they have fascinated and influenced my interest to study aspects of the business sector at higher level...

Maths and Science Personal Statement
Maths and science, in particular physics, have always been my favourite subjects in school. I have an inquisitive mind and am always asking "how?" and "why?" to find out how things work. I chose maths, physics and biology for my A levels, yet only realised I wanted to do engineering when I started studying topics such as mechanics...

Anthropology Personal Statement
Witnessing Hindu worship in Old Delhi, I became drawn to the systematic study of humankind. Having viewed religion as diminishing and irrelevant, I grew receptive to the manifestations of worship that exist in my own culture, and saw that the explanation of a cultural feature should involve the entire context...

History Personal Statement
“I have conquered an empire but I have not been able to conquer myself.” This quote by Peter I came to mind when I had to write this statement because is sums up my interest in History; here a great leader of men expresses his human weakness...

History (Ancient and Modern) Personal Statement
It is those things we don’t yet know or understand that make history a fascinating, intellectual puzzle. We know a remarkable amount about history and the development of society but new archaeological discoveries, the dedicated efforts of historians, translators and other academics and advancements in areas such as archaeometry mean that the body of historical information is still expanding...

Biology Personal Statement
I can remember my childhood, playing in the garden and exploring why worms come out when it rained. With the help of my ever growing passion for learning, I have found my way into the world of biology...

History Personal Statement
I have always cared passionately about my academic endeavours, from reading as widely as possible in my English and history A levels to carrying out an investigating into the antibiotic effects of indigenous poisonous plants in biology...

Creative Writing Personal Statement
To me, fiction is like the magic carpet of Aladdin. It takes me to travel through time and space and explore the slices of human experience. In the wonderful trips, I am guided by the author and accompanied by the characters...

History and English Personal Statement
Studying History and English concurrently has appealed to me ever since I recognised the inseparability of the two disciplines closest to my heart. Personally, I believe that the literary style of a piece of writing is as important as scholarly research and I try to make my essays as lively as possible whilst still grounded in solid historical or literary method, dulce et utile, following the example of writers such as Richard J Evans...

History Personal Statement
My interest in history lies in the simple fact that I have always been fascinated by the past. At eleven I won a full academic bursary to attend my current school. This was a way into a community in which my intellectual curiosity would be valued and where I could further my enthusiasm for history...

English Personal Statement
Recently, I was reading an interview with Francoise Sagan, author of Bonjour Tristesse, when I came across a quote that defined my love for literature. In the passage, the French writer claimed that while “Life is amorphous, literature is formal”...

German Personal Statement
The study of language has always been appealing and is the focus of much of my time and energy, but the study of the German language is what mesmerises me most. Before understanding German I was first intrigued by its sound, and as I began to learn it, I became fascinated by its complexity...

Economics Personal Statement
While working in the stock broker I became 100% sure that I wanted to study Economics at university. I gained employment at a Stock Broker office as a Monitor Operator in Bangladesh and my duty was to monitor the daily price list of trading of shares at the beginning of the day and then preparing trading reports at the end...

Archaeology Personal Statement
I have had an interest in archaeology for some years which has stemmed from reading about topics such as Troy and ancient Rome. I have always found it very intriguing how the discoveries of sites and artefacts from places like these have raised awareness about the importance and value of archaeology and I am fascinated by how archaic cultures, findings and inventions have influenced our modern lives...

Chemistry Personal Statement
The realisation I wanted to study Chemistry at degree level came with my growing appreciation of its contribution and significance in shaping modern society, coupled with an increasing interest in the subject as my knowledge and understanding have developed...

History Personal Statement
History has always fascinated me because of what it can tell us about humanity; the decisions taken, the actions chosen and the mistakes made can all make us reflect on what it means to be human. I firmly believe history is not simply a case of learning facts and dates but rather a chance to analyse the past, enhancing our understanding of how we interact with each other today...

Psychology Personal Statement
Psychology is ubiquitous in society. Because of the mercurial nature of humans, there is always something different to study and analyse. I find this exciting. Part of what draws me to psychology is how the dynamics of it affect daily life and behaviour...

History Personal Statement
I have always wanted to be part of an open-minded society and live in a country where originality is rewarded, so the UK came to my mind as being the best country to read my degree. My passion for the English language has developed over years of studying English at school, where I have been successful in every written and oral exam...

English Personal Statement
English is not simply the study of humanity, or society, or history or the written word; it is all of those together and it is this versatility that makes it so appealing to me. The link between literary criticism and psychoanalysis is a great interest of mine...

PPE/Politics and Economics Personal Statement
I have a strong interest in the close relationship between political events and economic developments, highlighted by a study of Russia in the lead up to the 1917 revolution. I was grabbed by the film adaptation of Ten Days That Shook the World, with its emphasis on its power of the masses...

Psychology Personal Statement
For me human beings have always been fascinating, and even mysterious, because, though we are all humans, we all think differently and behave so differently. I wonder why those impoverished people who live with little can have a happy life, whereas some millionaires who have status, reputation and money choose to commit suicide...

Archaeology Personal Statement
I have always enjoyed learning about different cultures and civilisations, reflected in my enduring love of history, and more recently, archaeology. Compared to modern history, archaeology carries a sense of enigma which makes it much more stimulating for an imaginative and inquisitive mind...

English Literature Personal Statement
I was once told by a writer at Bath "LitFest" that literature is "all about control". At a young age, his words seemed obscure, but years later, I am finally able to grasp his meaning. On one side of a barrier of ink and paper, a writer aims to understand and control their world, whilst a reader attempts to lose control in a boundless, imaginary world...

Natural Sciences Personal Statement
"Eureka!" This joyful exclamation sums up my satisfaction when I have finally solved an intractable problem. I frequently experience such "eureka" moments in my passionate exploration of science. My curiosity drives me to immerse myself in studying many scientific fields; which is why I believe the Natural Sciences course will best suit my abilities and interests...

Sociology Personal Statement
A Gospel choir tour around South Africa was the catalyst for my fascination with human culture. As I travelled I was able to directly experience a multiplicity of cultures even within this one country...

Politics and International Relations Personal Statement
Throughout my life, I have been fascinated but also deeply fearful of the power that politicians around the world possess. Having grown up in the years following Lithuania's departure from the Soviet Union and joining the European Union, I have observed how imperative it is that political decisions should be made responsibly...

Geography Personal Statement
I could say that my love of Geography started in school, but in fact holidays to foreign lands have had a more significant impact on me. From the volcanic badlands of Lanzarote's Timanfaya, to the unique beauty of Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania, Geography and its impact on nature and human development have awed me...

Philosophy, Economics and Politics Personal Statement
The emotional state of human existence is propelled by economic, and political revolutions that arise throughout history. It is only through practices of observance and purposeful inquisitions that humanity is able to truly understand the delicate emotional state of society...

Biological Sciences Personal Statement
When I was in primary school I would take pens apart to put them back together, so that I could see how every small piece fits together to create a whole working object, and as I furthered my education my focus shifted to the w orld around me...

Politics, Philosophy & Economics (PPE) Personal Statement
In this day and age virtually every aspect of our lives may be considered political. My passion to study Politics stems from this tenet and a belief that a comprehension of Politics is integral to understanding the current state of humanity...

Philosophy & Politics Personal Statement
For the past 15 years I have lived in Dubai a cosmopolitan metropolis so perfect and yet so flawed that not even the residents truly understand its inner workings. A city built on the backs of poorly treated labourers and ruled by a monarchy that seems to disregard the values of ethics and morality...

Ancient and Modern History Personal Statement
What makes history engaging and interesting to me is its interdisciplinary nature and its ability to take you on a journey to the discovery of humanity's past. History has been a constant source of captivation for me, from studying the mythology of Ancient Greece in primary school through to the study of the Russian Revolution at A Level...

History Personal Statement
Whether considering the real world applications of Bentham's utilitarianism in Religious Studies, analysing the context of a changing Victorian society in English Literature, or debating the evolving ideology of the Labour Party in Politics, there is one common thread connecting what I enjoy most about my studies: history...

Sociology Personal Statement
The need for the study of Sociology in society is, arguably, universally fundamental. The study of society is of paramount importance in solving social problems of great magnitude such as poverty and family disorganisation...

Computer Science Personal Statement
I could tell you why am interested in Computer Science until the cows come home, but to give you the fundamentals I would so passionately tell you that this course is one of the few disciplines which truly embodies the days of tomorrow...

Back to:

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *