History and Politics Personal Statement Example (Oxbridge)

I have always found myself interested in the social sciences. The complex relation between individual, family, society and state enthralls me. The dynamic between civil liberties and state security, the role of the state in society, the question of war and revolution, are all topics that fascinate me.

Although committed to my studies in school, I have always sought to challenge myself beyond the narrow confines of the curriculum. In Government and Politics, I have learnt about various political systems in the world, political ideologies and international relations, and I have expanded on this in my wider reading.

I have thoroughly enjoyed influential political works such as Mill's 'On Liberty', Hobbes' 'Leviathan', Marx's 'The Communist Manifesto' and Aristotle's 'Polis'.

I have been particularly interested in comparing and contrasting different thinkers' models of the state; both Marx and Hobbes, for example, propose strong states (although Marx's long term model posits that the state will eventually 'wither away'), but in very different forms. Mill proposes a libertarian society based on the 'harm principle', whereas Aristotle's Polis is a much stronger state, where all do not have equal rights.

As a member of Cambridge Liberal Democrats, I have been able to take part in various talks, seminars and workshops which have supplemented my academic work. To keep abreast of current affairs, I subscribe to Total Politics and The Spectator. I am also a keen listener to BBC's Weekly Political Review.

My interest in politics is informed by a keen sense of history and the comparative lessons of the past. I have developed and nurtured my passion for History through considerable wider reading.

Richard J Evans's 'In Defence of History', Marc Bloch's 'The Historian's Craft' and John Tosh's 'The pursuit of History' first gave me a proper insight into this wonderful discipline, and have complemented the topics I have studied in school. A Level History has allowed me to learn about Russian Revolution, Vietnam War, Stuart Age and Civil Rights Movement.

I have sought immense pleasure from reading 'A People's Tragedy' by Orlando Figes, 'In Retrospect' by Robert McNamara, 'The Stuarts' by John Miller and 'Sweet Land of Liberty?' by Robert Cook. I have also developed a profound interest in political history. Books such as 'History and Illusion in Politics' and 'Fatal Purity:

Robespierre and the French Revolution' have revealed to me how political leaders can transmogrify into tyrants, how the malfunctioning of social hierarchies can cause societies to run amok. I believe the contemporary socio-political context can only be properly understood by situating it in a broader historical narrative; for this reason, history forms an essential part of my academic outlook.

I have always believed in maintaining a healthy balance between academic pursuits and wider, extracurricular activities. I was elected to represent my school in the Global Young Leader Conference in USA, as a result of my leadership skills. I have been a regular member of my school's Debating Society and Global Issues Forum.

I am currently completing my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, during which I have served in my local Citizens' Advice Bureau as a form filler. It has afforded me an invaluable opprtunity to meet people from all walks of life.

Keen to take every opportunity to further my knowledge of Politics and History in a practical context, I have sought to gain firsthand experience of the House of Commons and Imperial War Museum by arranging to shadow my local MP and a short work experience respectively.

Finally, I would like to reiterate that my academic achievements, experience and above all enthusiasm and interest in History and Politics make me an ideal candidate for the degree.

I am a highly motivated individual who is able to work both independently and as a part of a team, and I am confident these skills will stand me in good stead during my time at university.

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This personal statement was written by Oxonian for application in 2010.

Oxonian's Comments

I got into Magdalene College, Oxford. That explains it all.


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So, you got into 'Magdalene'?

So, you got into 'Magdalene'?

Doesn't that, like, require you to spell the college name correctly? Here's a heads up: it's spelt 'Magdalen'.

Does it enthrall you?

Littering your personal statements with words you've clearly got out of a thesaurus because they sound so out-of-place and forced is not impressive.

You got into "MagdalenE".

You got into "MagdalenE". THAT explains it all.

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