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Personal statement

The quality of an applicant's personal statement is very important at LSE. The School does not interview for places so this is an applicant’s only opportunity to demonstrate they are a good fit for the course. Applicants should consult the advice here, as well as advice from UCAS when preparing to complete this section of their application. 

Please note that writing a personal statement following the guidelines below does not guarantee an offer of admission. Personal statements are looked at on a comparative basis and there is a great deal of competition for places at LSE. 

Writing your personal statement

You should ensure that your personal statement is structured and coherent and that you fully utilise the space available on UCAS. Once you have written a draft copy of your personal statement, you should check the spelling, punctuation and grammar and check that it flows in a logical order.  

Before you start writing, do your research

Before you start writing your personal statement, you should visit our course guides. These guides give information on the course content of each of our undergraduate programmes. 

When assessing your personal statement our Admissions Selectors will look at how well your academic interests align with the LSE course. So, for example, the Anthropology Admissions Selector is likely to prefer a statement which focuses mainly on social anthropology - which is taught at LSE - over one which suggests the applicant is very interested in biological anthropology, or a combined degree with archaeology, as these courses are not offered at the School. 

Similarly, a personal statement which shows an interest mostly in modern international history (the focus of LSE’s International History course) is likely to be more competitive than one which shows a significant interest in ancient history, as LSE does not offer any ancient history units.   

If you are applying for a range of slightly different courses, we recommend that you focus your personal statement on the areas of overlap between them, so that your statement appeals to all of your UCAS choices. It is important to note that LSE does not accept replacement or supplementary personal statements. 

What to include in your personal statement

Your personal statement should discuss for the most part your academic interest in the subject you wish to study. One way to think about the personal statement is to reflect on what we expect from LSE undergraduates: we ask them to learn about topics relevant to their course, through reading or other experiences, and then discuss the ideas they have encountered in academic essays. This is the skill we look for in the personal statement and we recommend at least 80% of your statement should be dedicated to this type of academic discussion. 

How you show your wider engagement with your subject is entirely up to you. Our Selectors look for students who can best reflect on the experiences and academic ideas they have encountered through the opportunities available to them, not those who have had the best opportunities. If you are not sure where to start, you could try listening to podcasts of LSE public events or look in the prospectus for examples of suggested reading. Remember we are interested not just in a list of what you have read/encountered, but evidence you have reflected on the academic ideas. 

To help you begin, there are several questions you could think about:

  • Why have you chosen the course? What attracted you to the subject? Which aspects of the subject have interested you sufficiently to want to study it at degree level? Is there a specific area of the subject you wish to focus on? What are the big issues in the subject, and what do you find most interesting about them? What are your thoughts on these topics?
  • Have you developed your subject interest outside of your school studies? For example, have you undertaken any additional reading to broaden your knowledge of the subject? Have you attended lectures or explored online material relating to the subject? What did you find interesting in your reading/in the lectures you attended and what are your thoughts on the topics covered?
  • Have you gained any skills from your other school subjects that complement your application to study your chosen subject? Have you had the opportunity to undertake work experience relevant to your application? If you did, how did this experience give you a wider understanding of the topics you will study at university?
  • Have you attended any schemes or activities at LSE or other universities, such as Summer Schools, Saturday Schools, LSE Choice, etc? What you have learned from these? Have they furthered your knowledge of or interest in your chosen subject?

If you are applying for deferred entry, as well as thinking about the questions listed above, you may also wish to indicate (briefly) why you are taking a gap year and what you plan to do during the year. 

If you are applying as a post-qualified student (ie, you have already received your final results), you may wish to mention briefly what you have been doing since your exams. 

Please note: You are not expected to simply answer all of the questions above; these questions are merely intended to give you some guidance as to what to think about when writing your statement. 

Extra-curricular activities

At LSE you are admitted to study a particular degree course so the majority of your personal statement − at least 80% − should focus on your academic interest in that subject. Many students like to include some details of their extra-curricular activities such as involvement in sports, the arts, volunteering or student government. As our Selectors are most interested in your academic interests, we recommend that no more than 20% of your statement is spent discussing extra-curricular activities. 

Applying to combined degree programmes

LSE offers a number of combined degree programmes. If you are applying to one of these programmes, you are advised to give equal weighting to each subject in your statement. For instance, if you are applying to our Government and Economics degree, you must show evidence of interest in both subjects; a statement weighted towards only one aspect of the degree will be significantly less competitive.

Example of a poor personal statement

"I have always dreamed of coming to LSE since I was young. It has been a dream of mine to study at this institution, which is well renowned for its social science courses. 

I am currently studying History, English and Business and Management at Higher level and Italian, Maths and Chemistry at Standard level in the International Baccalaureate, and feel that these subjects are providing me with a solid background for university study. 

I want to study History because I want to be a world class Historian, and feel that this degree will help me. I am especially interested in Ancient History, particularly the history concerning the Roman Empire. I am fascinated by the way in which the empire was run, and the events that led to its downfall. 

"I was the captain of the school football team, and this has taught me the importance of working together as a team, and allowed me to prioritise my time between my studies and football practice. I feel that this has provided me with the experience to successfully balance my academic and social life, and I plan to continue this balance whilst at university. 

It is my dream to become an alumnus of the School, and I am sure that as I am the top student of my class, you will offer me a place." 

This brief example of a personal statement is poor. The applicant has mentioned an interest in history but they have not discussed this in depth or shown any evidence of wider engagement with the subject. Where the applicant does talk about history, the discussion is superficial and focussed on ancient history, which LSE does not offer as part of our history course. 

The applicant has specifically mentioned LSE, which is likely to be unattractive to their other choices, and has wasted space listing their International Baccalaureate subjects, which would be shown in the qualifications section. The applicant has described how a history degree will help them get the job they later want, rather than what they are looking forward to studying during the degree. 

The applicant has reflected on the transferable skills they have developed leading the football team. This is good, but it would be nice to see the same level of reflection applied to academic topics - this student has spent more time talking about football than about history.