Below is the personal statement that I used to apply to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 2015. This is intended to be used as a resource to see a possible way of structuring a personal statement and not simply to copy. UCAS uses sophisticated software to examine the integrity of every personal statement entered, if you were to try and apply with the below personal statement, or simply a few sentences of it, you would be flagged instantly.
Personally I feel that the most important thing to be is unique. Read atypical books, write about interesting things, show your interest through examining how the subjects apply to a specific area, etc. Remember that tutors have to read through large numbers of personal statements, try to be the one that they remember for positive reasons. Reading Capital in the Twenty First Century by Piketty is cool but try and find a book (or other content) that lots of people haven’t heard of, and that the tutors haven’t read tonnes of other personal statements about!
I believe it is the moral responsibility of citizens to hold politicians to account. I started writing to my MP the Rt Hon. Andrew Smith in 2008 and have written frequently on topics that include: the approved export of Weapons of Mass Destruction, end-use control chemicals to Iran, and the invitation of human rights abusing countries to the DSEI arms fair in London. I see both of these situations as inevitably leading to greater levels of suffering worldwide in the long term. I have enjoyed undertaking research, including freedom of information requests, resulting in letters which have always warranted a personalised, ministerial response. I have been elected to the Oxfordshire Youth Parliament for the last five years, and recently completed an internship in the Cabinet Office. During my time in the Cabinet Office I worked on investigating the ‘Step Up to Serve’ campaign, which aims to get 60% of young people participating in social action by 2020. These experiences have taught me that young people can have an effect on society and the importance of social action.
My interest in economics stems back to watching Jeff Randall Live, which introduced me to concepts, that have made me consider the actions of individuals and government in society, such as the Laffer Curve: theorising that a decrease in income tax can result in higher tax revenues. I enjoy seeing economics applied to real world political situations, such as the Refugee Burden-Sharing proposals by Peter Schuck, which suggested creating a market similar to the European Tradeable Permits scheme for refugees. This would allocate countries a quota of refugees and they would be able to trade these allocations. This both provides an incentive to countries and means the quotas could be raised overtime. The opposing argument that creating a market for the sale of human lives in this context is inhumane surprises me, as a market based solution that ultimately leads to a greater number of refugees being supported is inherently humane.
I achieved the highest GCSE grades in my year group and during AS got full UMS in the Managing the National Economy, Economics paper. I was also chosen to represent my school in the Bank of England Target Two Point Zero competition, as the spokesperson on the domestic economy. I am especially interested in Development Economics. I have gone on to look at its links with philosophy and politics. I previously held the opinion that international aid was the best way of achieving development in the third world. However, since reading Dambisa Moyo’s ‘Dead Aid’ I have learnt that there are feasible alternatives to aid, such as, increasing our trade links and assisting with the creation of more sophisticated financial institutions. Also, adaptations to current legislation, such as, the EU Common Agricultural Policy could allow Europe to become a greater export market to these countries. ‘Dead Aid’ raises a wider question about governance in the third world. Patrick Henry, a former Governor of Virginia, once said “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” which I feel relates to a big philosophical question in Sub Saharan politics today: Should countries become democracies despite autocratic regimes being more economically effective? A question I am still deliberating today.
I’m involved in a variety of extracurricular activities including being the Managing Director of my school’s Young Enterprise team, winning the city finals. I volunteer as a level 1 Kayak Coach, Webmaster and Course Secretary for a canoe club receiving the BCU Gold award for volunteering and am currently working towards my DofE Gold. Although last year I was selected to attend the Sutton Trust US Programme I have decided to apply soley to UK universities as these institutions allow me to specialise in my subject far more.