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Personal statement advice: economics

Writing a personal statement for economics? You'll need more than a subscription to The Financial Times to impress tutors. Here’s how to stand out by being relevant, personal and concise

That's what economics admissions tutors told us when we asked them what they're looking for in your economics personal statement and here are some more of their top tips...

For more personal statement advice, see our top 10 things to include, as well as our personal statement checklist for everything you need to get writing. 
 

Ensure your enthusiasm for economics stands out

It's key to explain in your personal statement why you’re interested in economics and why you want to study it. Think about the following:
 
  • If you have already been studying economics at A-level (or equivalent), talk about an area of the course that you’ve found especially interesting.
  • If you haven’t studied economics before, explain what has inspired your interest in it.
  • What especially appeals to you about the subject or the courses you’ve chosen? You can look up specific course details using our course search.
  • Demonstrate that you have a real interest in economic principles and concepts.
  • Show some understanding of economic theory.
  • Show an appreciation of mathematical concepts.
  • Reflect on something that has given you an insight into local, national, European or global economic issues and explain what interests you about it.
     

What to include in your economics personal statement

  • Wider reading: do pick out one or two specific issues that had an impact on you just saying you subscribe to The Economist or The FT or that you’ve read Freakonomics or The Undercover Economist won't have an impact unless you elaborate . Better still, think outside the box and write about something you’ve read that’s slightly more obscure. As an admissions tutor at one university said: 'If I read about Freakonomics one more time, I’ll scream...'
  • Economics-related experience: reflect on any work experience, responsibilities or non-academic interests or achievements that are relevant to economics or that demonstrate appropriate skills or qualities.
  • Other relevant insights: if you’ve undertaken an economics-related project, Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) or summer school, reflect on any insights this has given you.
  • Demonstrate your skills: give examples of skills you possess that will serve you well as an economics student and mean you're able to proactively contribute to the course. These could include self-motivation, teamwork, the ability to think logically, effective time management, good communication or problem-solving skills.
  • Your long-term goals: explain how your degree choice fits with your future ambitions and career aspirations.

What not to include in your economics statement

We've also picked up some tips on what to avoid:
  • Don’t skim the surface, be specific.
  • Don’t give us a shopping list of things you’ve read or done.
  • Don’t exaggerate.
  • Don’t waste space trying to impress us with things you’ve done that aren’t relevant; relate everything to the courses you’re applying for.
  • Don’t make sweeping claims about 'your passion for economics', how you’ve 'loved it from an early age' and 'what an honour it would be to get accepted at your university'.
  • Avoid grammar and spelling mistakes.
     
As the University of Bristol's Why Study Economics? website says, 'a straightforward personal statement that gets all the core points across in a coherent way serves the purpose best'. So do say something that will stand you out from the crowd, but avoid being too off-the-wall.

Don't be too bland and generic, either. London School of Economics says 'your statement should be as original as possible to differentiate you from other applicants' while the University of Nottingham looks for 'students with a wide variety of interests and enthusiasms from a wide variety of backgrounds'. Strike the right balance by demonstrating your enthusiasm, your intellectual curiosity and the quality of your insights. 

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