History Personal Statement Example

My interest in History originally derived from my visits to Fountains Abbey and France’s Citadelle de Brouage. Physically seeing what remains helped me to establish just how much we rely on the past, and that there is much more than just the tangible evidence. Our entire functionality as humans in a society reflects our heritage, yet it also echoes the cultures we learn from others.

The everlasting effects of what our ancestors did will always have consequences upon how we are perceived, and I found this vital when exploring the Spanish Inquisition’s theological history. For an event which is well-remembered as a brutal and inhumane exploitation of religious privilege, the Catholic Church will always be scarred. Reading Giles Tremlett’s “Isabella of Castile: Europe’s First Great Queen” reminded me that a 15th century Spanish citizen would've been anachronistic to oppose religious prejudice; the Inquisition was entirely acceptable and offered the monarchy an opportunity to create union in Spain enough to lead to its colonial empire.

It is the subjectivity of histories successes that truly intrigues me, being able to choose as an individual whether its inhabitants were efficacious allows us to make judgements so we can then grow from the experience.

In my academic studies English literature has helped me to engage with these perceptions of historical periods. The "American Dream" which is criticised in Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' provided me an insight to the consequences of chasing these fantasies of freedom and independence. This assisted my A-Level History studies of the USA in the 20th century, as I could realise on a personal level how rugged individualism was affecting America's society.

A-Level Psychology has aided me in my realisation that gradually the introduction of new ideology can alter our entire perception of a subject, and therefore a historical events success. Furthermore my understanding of the perception of authority and obedience has enabled me to grasp how conforming societies such as those in George Orwell’s 1984 allowed political movements such as the Soviet Union to spread.

To practice my individual researching skills I chose to undertake my EPQ evaluating the necessity of the Inquisition in keeping power over Spain. Through this I have gained experience reflecting upon theological ideas and their influence over monarchical decisions. Planning a conclusion to this piece of work galvanized me to reflect upon both the periodical interpretation and a modern one; although it seemed ethically and morally wrong to do so, I realised that the Inquisition was immensely effectual for the Queen.

Completing the FutureLearn's online course on "A History of Royal Fashion" allowed me to interact with others interested in history and have in depth debates upon how the clothing of royals has been utilised for power, propaganda and performance; overtime shifting to be a useful tool in establishing their own character as a monarch.

By participating in Durham's taster webinars about theology and religion I was able to grasp how to effectively apply knowledge after lectures; I was most intrigued by a webinar on ‘The Moon Landing, the Nazis and why we aren’t as secular as we believe’ which revealed to me just how closely religion can have an impact upon how historical events pan out.

Being a member of the Girl Guiding Association has taught me practical team working skills and encouraged me to seek out my own personal interests. Volunteering as a young leader at my local Rainbows unit demonstrated just how pivotal this learning is in childhood development and having the ability to communicate these lessons motivates me to share history in a similar way. Furthermore, acting as KS3 Drama Club Leader has advanced my ability to marshal a team equitably.

Pursuing work at a degree level will facilitate my journey towards understanding the direct effects which religion has upon history.

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Author's Comments

This was the personal statement I submitted for a history degree at University of Bristol, University of York, University of Nottingham and University of Reading, and for a modern history and theology degree at University of St Andrews.

I got places for all of the universities applied to, and am now attending St Andrews.


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