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Personal statement structure | Advice for international students

Personal statement structure | Advice for international students

by Jenny Shippen

As a potential student, you will be asked to write a personal statement – also known as a statement of purpose – detailing your skills, experience, and suitability for the course as part of your application to study at a UK university.

Whether you’re just starting your personal statement or looking for tips to fine-tune your writing, this blog will tell you all you need to know about personal statement structure as an international student.



  1. Why is a personal statement important to UK universities?

  2. What does a personal statement structure look like?

  3. What do universities look for in a personal statement from an international student?

  4. What are the benefits of a degree from the UK?

  5. Personal statement tips


Why is a personal statement important to UK universities?

A personal statement – or statement of purpose – is an essay included as part of your application to study at a university in the UK. It is your first opportunity to showcase your skills, ambition, and experience in your own words, and let the admissions staff know how suited you are to the course you’re applying to.

Writing your personal statement is an integral part of your application to university through UCAS. A well-written personal statement could be the deciding factor in whether or not you are offered a place at university in the UK.




What does a personal statement structure look like?

As with most great stories, your personal statement has to consist of a beginning, a middle, and an end. However, with a limit of 4,000 characters, you can’t get too descriptive or veer away from the point. Make sure your writing is succinct, informative, and stays on track, and your personal statement will shine.

For a brief rundown, try to include these elements in your personal statement structure:

  • Beginning:
    • introduce yourself
    • highlight your motivation and enthusiasm for your chosen course
  • Middle:
    • explain your suitability and experience, using practical examples to back up your claims
    • include both academic and interpersonal skills
    • talk about your hobbies and interests
  • End:
    • summarise your previous key points
    • explain how you think university will help you develop yourself, and your career goals

For a more detailed account, read our blog post on how to write a personal statement for university.


What do universities look for in a personal statement from an international student?

It’s important to know what UK university admissions staff look for in a personal statement before you start writing. As well as the usual advice that applies to both UK and non-UK applicants, here are some things that are essential for international students to include.

  • Explain why you want to study in the UK: it’s vital to show that you didn’t apply to study abroad on impulse. Prove that you have thought about your decision to study in the UK, and are ready to take this huge step.
  • Define any work or volunteering experience from home that might be relevant to the field of study you’re applying for.
  • Show that you have the right level of English language proficiency – including any qualifications or tests you have taken – to study at university in the UK. For more information, read our section on English language requirements for international students.


What are the benefits of a degree from the UK?

A highly-prized degree from a UK university can open up many career opportunities after graduation. It can prove to any potential employer that you have the capacity to earn a high-value degree and are willing to take risks and experience new things by moving abroad for your higher education. This can give your resumé a boost in a highly competitive job market.

Newcastle University is one of the founding institutions of the Russell Group: a group of 24 prestigious universities known for their exceptional research, teaching expertise, and strong links with the business and public sectors. Russell Group universities rank highly in both UK and international league tables, and are incredibly popular with international students: in fact, nearly a third of the Russell Group university's students are from a non-UK nationality.




Personal statement tips:

Feeling confident enough to write your own statement of purpose? Here are some final personal statement tips and advice to help your application shine:

  • personal statements have to be a maximum of 4,000 characters, or 47 lines, so make every word count
  • your personal statement will be read by all your UCAS choices, so take care not to mention any universities by name
  • do not duplicate information that you’ve included elsewhere in your application
  • don’t share your personal statement with anyone, or copy someone else’s – UCAS can verify whether your writing has been copied using a plagiarism checker, and this could jeopardise your chances of getting into your dream university
  • don’t use AI to generate all or parts of your personal statement – for more information, read our blog on whether using AI is cheating
  • be authentic – admissions staff want to read about the real you!
  • pay extra attention to grammar and spelling in your application
  • remember to submit your completed personal statement by the appropriate deadline, and leave plenty of time for edits to avoid any last-minute panic

The deadline for medicine, veterinary medicine/science or dentistry was Monday 16 October 2023 (6pm GMT) and at the time this blog was published, it has passed.

The deadline for the majority of other degree programmes is Wednesday 31 January 2024 (6pm GMT).


We hope you have found our blog on personal statement structure for international students useful! If you’re looking to find out more, check out our main page about international study at Newcastle University.