Writing a UCAS Personal Statement for your five chosen English Literature courses can seem daunting: you really want five offers, but you have proper academics scrutinising your every word.
But there’s no need to fear: since every prospective English Literature student has different literary tastes, there’s no single ‘right’ way to write an English Literature Personal Statement. No ‘right’ opening sentences; no ‘right’ texts to mention; no ‘right’ ending.
There are, however, ‘good’ ways to write a Personal Statement for English Literature, and one of these is to use a technique you’re already familiar with: structure. A well-structured Personal Statement should clearly answer three questions: why English Literature? What have you read that interests you? Do you do any extra-curricular activities which reflect your love of the subject?
Let’s look at each question in turn.
Why English Literature?
This should be more than just a case of ‘I’ve always loved reading’, even if that’s the truth. Think about why you love the subject, why you love reading. You’re electing to spend three years of your life on an English Literature degree – what’s the motivation behind that choice?
What have you read that interests you?
It’s far better to talk about a few examples in detail than to reel off a list of titles and say nothing about them. Think about what texts you like to read – do they focus on a specific theme, or have similar characters? If so, don’t be afraid to say so – the ability to pick out interesting aspects of a text will prove very helpful when you actually begin your degree.
It’s a good idea, though, to try and incorporate a mixture of prose, poetry, and drama, and to choose texts from different eras. Not only are you showing your depth of reading, but also your willingness to engage with different forms and periods. These traits are very attractive to any Admissions Tutor!
Do you do any extra-curricular activities which reflect your love of the subject?
It would be wise to mention any activities with obvious relevance to an English Literature degree – writing for a newsletter or attending a book club, for instance. But there are other ways in which you can make your extra-curricular activities relevant to your desired degree.
Think about the qualities you’ll need to develop as an English Literature student. Time management, responsibility, and strong analytical skills are just some examples of the attributes your University lecturers will like. So if an extra-curricular activity has helped you to develop certain skills, don’t be afraid to relate them to your course.
End on a positive note, reiterating why you love English Literature and want to study it at degree level.
And remember that a Personal Statement is just that: personal! It’s a platform for you to emphasise your interest in the subject you want to study in depth for the next three years. The structure outlined above will help you to successfully portray this.