English Literature personal statement

In the words of William Makepeace Thackeray: "There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write." For me, this quote epitomises the inspirational value of literature. I believe that English literature possesses an overwhelming power: it has the ability not only to entertain but to challenge its readers to ascertain a deeper understanding of the world. The most recent novel to stimulate my senses in this manner has been Emily Bronte's 'Wuthering Heights'. The complex web of themes and motifs inspired me to question the nature of human relations and to truly exercise my analytical techniques.

The language element of the course I have been studying has allowed me to develop an appreciation of the technical side of writing, which has consequently encouraged my enthusiasm towards literature to blossom. The subject touches me on a personal level; often there are no right or wrong answers or firm boundaries of 'black and white' and this leaves me with a burning desire to fully submerge myself into an author's work.

In the past year, I have had the pleasure of participating in a French exchange, which allowed me to stay with a host family in Angers for a week. To stay with a foreign family and to be dependant upon my linguistic skills was nerve-wracking, however I embraced the challenge and became good friends with not only my host student but also with the rest of her family. Shortly after this exchange, I visited Berlin with my fellow German students, which was an equally wonderful and fulfilling experience. Studying two languages has benefitted both my English language and literature work immensely. Currently I am studying 'The Pardoner's Tale' by Geoffrey Chaucer and I am able to identify words which are derived from the French and German languages. This has aided my understanding of the text.

Japanese language has been an integral part of my life for the last year. Through being taught extra-curricular lessons I have learnt both 'Hiragana' (the syllabic form of Japanese) and 'Kanji' (Japanese symbols). Learning about Japanese culture has been absolutely fascinating: not only has it broadened my horizons, but it has also fuelled my yearning to travel and to meet new people.

I am a keen pianist and recently I passed the grade 7 exam. I adore playing both solo and as an accompaniment to fellow musicians. I am currently studying hard for the grade 8 exam. Although it is extremely challenging, it is at the same time incredibly rewarding because I like to push myself and to explore my abilities. I also play the clarinet and I have taken part in a number of concerts in the past as part of a concert band. One major event was when I played at the Royal Norfolk Show; to play in front of a large audience was an exhilarating experience.

Through working in a retail outlet every weekend I have come across a wide range of people, which has articulated my customer service skills: something I am relieved to have on the odd occasion when a customer is slightly difficult to please! Often my co-workers and I are working under immense pressure, which enables me to fully appreciate the importance of teamwork and to experience a sense of solidarity which is vital under certain circumstances.

In today's society, I strongly believe that is of the utmost importance that we, as a global community, can imbibe the opinions and ideas of each other; regardless of whatever walk of life we may be from. I consider English literature to be a valuable tool in acquiring this skill and I would love to take my adoration of the subject to the next level.

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i disagree, i think this is a

i disagree, i think this is a really good statement. it flows, it's written coherently and articulately. i think that was a good quote to start with as it's relevant to the rest of the statement. nice one, hope you get where you wanted!

I agree- it's great! Not

I agree- it's great! Not pretentious, just passionate about the subject. Well done =)

one word...superb!

one word...superb!

who DOESN'T write their

who DOESN'T write their personal statement with the aid of a theasarus? and just because you maybe can't write that well NATURALLY doesn't mean no1 else can

Well bloody done.

Well bloody done.
I can't write anything as half as good as that. Therefore am jealous.
Hahaha, but I hope you got to do what you wanted.

wow, that was deep! did u get

wow, that was deep! did u get onto the course?

Yeah, English Lit students

Yeah, English Lit students are not normally very articulate.

"this personal statement

"this personal statement sounds unbelievably pretentious. i refuse to believe that this was written unaided by thesaurus. it is not natural, and to start with a quote is pompous and ridiculous."

As unnatural as your inability to form proper sentences with capital letters and appropriate use of commas? It was written without the aid of a thesaurus, so I shall take that as a compliment.

yeh this statement is pretty

yeh this statement is pretty cool, i like the way you started off with a quote and worked off from there... well done

its ok i suppose, at least it

its ok i suppose, at least it aint a bunch of malarky like other english p.s's .

Thank you.

You help in the structuring of own statement was immense.
Thank you kindly.

Opps that was means to be

Opps that was means to be "Your"

I cannot help but agree with

I cannot help but agree with the guest who described this statement as 'pretentious', although I would put it in slightly different terms. As a statement for an application to study English Literature this is not especially impressive (perhaps that explains why York, as the best English Department the applicant applied to, did not offer the student a place). Degree level English Literature is not about emotional response but analytic ability and students who articule their 'feelings' about texts do not tend to do well at University. Also, while referring to specific texts is a good idea, I would try to choose something a little more original than Wuthering Heights - a text that a huge number of first year undergraduates cite as their favourite novel.

i dont think this personal

i dont think this personal statement is natural. if this girl was to go into an interview her ability would not reflect on the complexity of her peronal statement. i know you have to look desirable but you have to be honest and i can understand 'pretentious'.... although it is interesting it seems slightly over the top

I dont agree at all with the

I dont agree at all with the above comment about how at interview the personal statement would be too complex... writing a personal statement and performing at interview are two completely different things requiring completely different skills. No one is expected to be able to spiel something off like this when they're sat under pressure!

Anyway...I think its one of the best personal statements I've read ...although parhaps not suitable for all universities.

"(perhaps that explains why

"(perhaps that explains why York, as the best English Department the applicant applied to, did not offer the student a place). Degree level English Literature is not about emotional response but analytic ability and students who articule their 'feelings' about texts do not tend to do well at University."

Sorry, but you're wrong. Firstly, York is incredibly competitive for English applicants; they were hardly going to give me an offer with AS grades of just ACDD. York didn't have the "best English department" out of my choices anyway, that is merely your opinion.

Secondly, no English Literature student can truly appreciate their subject if they have no emotional response to the texts. I wasn't conveying my feelings with the naive notion that my university study would be solely based on how I felt when reading literature, this whole piece was constructed in such a way as to convince the admissions tutors of my enthusiasm towards the subject in general.

Oh and I had an overwhelming admiration for Wuthering Heights and still do. I wasn't going to scramble around trying to think of something a bit more obscure just to sound impressive.

I do agree that the style of this statement comes across as 'superficial', but I believed (and still do) that admissions tutors do want to read something that someone's obviously taken a considerable amount of time over, especially if it manipulates sentence structure and stylistic features. All I did was basically list the basic facts and then tweak it all with the hope of making the whole thing sound a bit more entertaining.

It's all open to interpretation, I just happen to think that if you already have the vital statistics then you may as well have a bit of fun with this section of the application process. If your grades aren't fantastic, as mine weren't, then all the more reason to go a bit OTT. ;)

This is a perfectly decent

This is a perfectly decent statement, however i do think that generally the use of quotes isn't really the best idea. While i'm sure it wasn't used to sound pretentious, and in fact, sounding pretentious isn't a bad thing when you're supposed to sell your self, i still personally wouldn't use one.

However, people's complaints about her use of perhaps complex words, and sounding pretentious are all well and good. Yet the whole point of a personal statement is to sell yourself, and while it's good to get a balance, there's nothing wrong with sounding intelligent or articulate.

Quotes are over used nowadays

Quotes are over used nowadays it is not wise to think yourself clever and original by beginning with a quote! Rest of statement reads well though.

Wow. Unbelievably pompous and

Wow. Unbelievably pompous and pretentious. I can't see how anybody could take you seriously.

I feel it is slightly

I feel it is slightly controversial to start with a quote since it is meant to be a PERSONAL statement, none-the-less well done


This personal statement is very professional from the very start!!!


"Yeah, English Lit students are not normally very articulate."

Fairly ironic considering we are studying the art of the English language at great depth.

The personal statement sounds very intelligent, and includes a lot of information about experiences which are very useful, although it is advised not to use famous quotes at any point in a personal statement.

While I agree that using a

While I agree that using a quote at the beginning of the statement may not have been the best thing to do, I feel that this statement is well-thought out and articulated. I think the people who are calling this pretentious and pompous are slightly jealous! Not to say I'm not (I wish my personal statement could be that good), but you obviously put a lot of effort into it. I hope you got onto your course - you deserve it!

You are AWSOME

You just made me love the English language


This personal statement has made me more determined to create an individualistc one of my own. I've been deliberating whether or not I should make it as dull and uninspiring as everyone elses but having read yours I'm inclined to take the risk. Thanks!

very well written, but i

very well written, but i cannot find it within myself to rant on about how much money I have to be able to go around the world in the hope it will get me to uni. i prefer to be rejected than not be myself. but if that is the life for you, then well done indeed.

i think maybe you should make

i think maybe you should make the link between your quote and your commentary on it more explicit.

i agree with the guy that

i agree with the guy that says the first line is a bit pompous. Generally ok but did no-one spot the grammatcal error? (last paragraph)







And you should know there are two "p"s in application. A mistake I'm sure an admissions tutor would take far more seriously. Personally I wouldn't use a quotation, but if it means something to her and it's relevent then why not?

As for using a Makepeace Thackery quotation, that's like saying quoting Shakeseare is cliche because he's so popular, it's rubbish! It would make far less sense to quote an unknown author. Who is realistically going to know a quote by John Smith off the top of their head?

As a foreign student (with

As a foreign student (with English not being my native language), it is my greatest dream to study English literature in the UK. Writing a personal statement is, to me, an incredible challenge, and I didn't have the slightest idea on how to start. Thank you very much for putting yours online - you have shown me how natural, honest and beautiful a personal statement can be. I'm highly motivated to start working on my own now, although I know it won't be hald as good. I really hope you got somewhere where you wanted to be, you obviously deserve it! :)

Oh - and to all people calling this personal statement pretentious or pompous; do keep in mind that not everything you couldn't have written yourself is necessarily pompous. It just means it's excellently written.

I don't think the vocabulary

I don't think the vocabulary seems forced at all; there's nothing 'pretentious' about being eloquent. This was very helpful for ideas for finishing touches, though it seems alot longer than the pathetic little box they give you! Thanks all the same!

A fine personal statement by

A fine personal statement by all measures. I like it, contrary to the general consensus of the forum-i get the impression that you're genuine, far from pompous and pretentious

Really helpful :)

Really helpful :)
and it really does convey that you're passionate about English!
Well done!

To say that it is pompous

To say that it is pompous starting and ending with a quote is ridiculous, I started and ended my own with one last year and not only was I accepted into all the universities I applied to, it was commented on by two of them.
Be more open minded.
And perhaps buy a thesaurus for yourself?

Think before you use this one

As an admissions officer I have seen this statement so many times that I am becoming less inclined to make offers to these students. I am pretty sure that no University is going to take on a student who is clearly plagiarising at the application stage. Be warned. This isn't clever and we are not stupid

Well that shut you all up

Well that shut you all up didn't it!


LOL at the comments


It's stupid to use a quote when you never mention him in your statement. You should have used a Bronte quote or one from a book or author you will mention in your thing.

Otherwise it just looks like you googled 'literature quotations'

'I would love to take my

'I would love to take my adoration of the subject to the next level'

That sounds cheesy. What is exactly is the 'next level of adoration'? Making love to it?


Nice attempt but for me this is a very poor PS. It always amuses me that people think that part-time work in a shop will improve their chances of getting into an English Literature course.

As you conceded, the language, sentence structure and content is extremely impersonal; it seems you're more intent on showing off with clever words than explaining why you would be a good candidate.

Furthermore, anybody who puts words such as "passion" have already made the admin tutor sigh. The whole point is to demonstrate your passion by talking about your wider reading.

"I thoroughly enjoyed studying X, particularly the gothic elemements, and decided to pursue this by reading X, Y and Z"

If you loved Wuthering Hights so much the least you'd expect is to read the works of the other Bronte sisters, and maybe delve into other authors such as Austin.

Full of pretty words and no useful content.

semi-colon fail

semi-colon fail

Doe's it apply?

I read this looking for help with my university application, and thought the opening is well written you fail to meet the requirements I have been advised with. For examplke you fail to mention other academic qualifications and how they will aid you in your chosen path.

Perhaps I have misread what this personal statement is for, if so I apologies.

this isn't very good - you've

this isn't very good - you've said barely anything about english literature, you haven't even mentioned anything you've read.

I'm sorry, but too me it

I'm sorry, but too me it sounds like you are applying to a languages course more than and English Literature one. Where did you apply too? I agree also that it sounds sort of pretentious, but I also know mine will also probably sound pretentious.
Hope you got in

You sound extremely well

You sound extremely well educated but without the grades and the background to match this statement would sound ludicrous. So for people to use these comments to insult you is obscene without knowing you personally. Well done interesting Personal Statement.

This got shown in my assembly

This got shown in my assembly today from a university lecture about how NOT to write a personal statement!

It looks impressive at first

It looks impressive at first but if youre applying for English Literature I think you should include more than one paragraph about English Literature...and I might be wrong but I only counted one novel mentioned. Plays...poetry...other novels?...short stories- I would say focus more on the subject

I felt that it was a powerful

I felt that it was a powerful opening, but maybe there could have been another paragraph about why you wanted to study English, or why i means so much to you, rather than discussing your other subjects?


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