History & International Relations Personal Statement
The study of history is a lens through which political developments can be viewed, enabling us to see how past policies between nations have sculpted western society today.
The intertwinement of history and political relations was best epitomised through my discovery of historical revisionism and negationism; how the realities of history can be altered and distorted in the name of political gain. The ability to interpret and form my own judgement based on uncertain past historical inquests is an experience I find truly gratifying.
The study of 19th Century Britain confirmed my interest in political history, and inspired me to read a number of books-Norman Gash's 'Aristocracy and People' and Boyd Hilton's 'England 1783-1846' made a lasting impression.
Gash's perspective that Peel's politics architected Victorian prosperity contrasts directly with Hilton's interpretation of Peel as a doctrinaire, a dichotomy of viewpoints that I find compelling in this argument, and throughout the discipline as a whole. Keen to read texts not confined to the syllabus, 'The Crushing of Eastern Europe' helped simplify complex international relations of post-war Europe, and having a Polish heritage, provided insight into my personal history.
I believe that the uniting of peoples against an autocratic regime during this period can be paralleled by current events in the Middle-East; lessons from 60 years ago are a stark reminder that global democracy must still be fought for.
Furthermore, the works of Marx have instilled in me the importance of understanding the structure of society and the economy, the fabric of which history is made of, and though I disagree with his rejection of private ownership and advocacy of centralization, my open-mindedness to differing political opinions has been broadened.
Exploring beyond the limitations of the classroom has honed my research skills, evidenced during a visit to Plaszow in Poland, where local history became a transcendental experience.
Blighted by war and hardship, their history has effectively been moulded to create present-day reality; a journey that highlights history's intrinsic power for change, yet still echoes Trotsky's voice from beyond the grave, that War is the locomotive of change. I hope to discover ways of implementing change without the need for such conflict.
Studying English has been highly beneficial in allowing me to look at a source more analytically and perfecting my ability to synthesize a well-reasoned argument.
The study of politics has enriched my interest in the intricate operations within the EU, and inspired me to debate the entrance of Turkey with the Central London Debating Society- my citation of concerns about human rights and the straining of the EU's economy ignited a variety of responses; arbitrating between opposing views is a unique experience, and one I find stimulating.
Recent work experience at John Soane's Museum aided my study of history. Being exposed to tangible, historical artefacts-the products that history books can only describe- evoked awe-inspiring questions that furthered my, already well cemented, fascination of the past.
Chairing my school's History Society has given me the honour of discovering historic affairs and engaging with historians such as Ronald Hutton, enhancing my familiarity with past events. In volunteering at
The Passage, a multi-ethnic homeless shelter, I have applied my bilingual fluency, allowing not only for interpersonal development, but for the appreciation of the diverse historical and political views of different cultures.
Being a member of the ReachOut programme and mentoring schoolchildren in reading has been a thoroughly rewarding experience, and has solidified my desire to enter the field of academia, and teaching. At the risk of sounding trite, I hope to learn from history's past mistakes in order to better global relations today. Under the tutelage of today's experts at University, I hope this can be made a reality.
This personal statement was written by anxiouslife for application in 2014.
anxiouslife's university choices
The University of Manchester
University of East Anglia
University of Southampton
Green: offer made
Red: no offer made
Spent a lot of time on this, and made constant modifications over the 6-ish weeks I properly worked on it. My main advice would be to limit discussion about extra-curricular activities unless they can be linked back to the course you're studying. Main aim is to display genuine interest in the subject- achieved through discussion of books/places. Giving your own point of view is IMO powerful and effective.
This wasn't easy, but after receiving offers from my 5 choices and currently settled at Exeter University in my first year, it was certainly worth it. Good luck. Message me for any help