Personal statement advice: geography
Geography admissions tutors don't just want to hear about your academics, but also how you pursue your geographical interests outside of school or college. Find out more...
Blending your academic and extra-curricular interests
But whatever it is, don’t just say you’ve done it. What’s essential is that you write about it in an interesting and reflective way that shows what you’ve gained from it. That way, you’re sure to stand out from the crowd.
Show the real youThe University of Southampton is looking for a similar blend in your personal statement: '… A high-quality piece of writing that outlines your interests in geography, your extra-curricular pursuits and something of what makes you distinctive as a person.'
A good way to do this is to write about something that excites you about the subject, whether it’s a particular aspect of the syllabus, your wider reading, a project (the EPQ would be relevant if you’re doing one), fieldwork, your extra-curricular interests or ideally a combination of some of those things. The more interesting it is, the more distinctive you will come across as a person.
But don't get too stressed about trying to write the 'right' way:
If you’ve got no idea where to start, you might want to seek advice or look at examples. But then try to write the statement your way. Avoid copying phrases or letting someone else write chunks of it. If you do, it won’t sound natural.
More things for geographers to think about
- Wider reading: London School of Economics is looking for what's motivated you to apply for their course - including wider reading or activities and your interest in 'contemporary geographical problems and their alleviation'. The University of Bristol's website asks for evidence that you have extended your interest in the subject 'beyond formal classroom provision'.
- Uni open days: these can be a great opportunity to get some specific advice. Subject talks will usually mention what they look for in personal statements or, if not, don’t be afraid to ask them face to face.
- Talk about particular interests in topics featured in the courses you’re applying for: so if regeneration, GIS, tropical savannas, glaciology, coastal zones, tourism or geopolitics fascinates you, write about it in a specific way - avoid bland, obvious phrases like 'I’ve always enjoyed geography'!
- Specialist geography courses: if your Ucas choices include specialist areas including development, population, marine or environmental aspects of geography, include evidence of relevant interests. Maybe you’ve travelled somewhere and taken note of social conditions, read something interesting about migration or marine ecology, or contributed to an environmental debate which has sparked an interest to learn about environmental policy...
- Show why you're passionate: as Dr Reimer at Southampton says: 'we are keen to teach students who are fascinated by the subject, so we want you to demonstrate your enthusiasm for it in your statement'.