UCAS Personal Statements
This part of the UCAS process is crucial to your application, as it tells university departments why you want to study geology. The personal statement is limited to 4,000 characters, equating to about 600 words. This is little more than a page in length, but is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Writing your Personal Statement
You need to demonstrate your enthusiasm for geoscience but also for university in general. Further education can be tough, so why do you want to do it? Here are some ideas for expressing your enthusiasm:
The particular parts of geology that really interest you and why.
Are there things you would like to learn more about (e.g. volcanoes, earthquakes, minerals, fossils etc.)? Do you see your future career path involving them?
Things you are doing or have previously done that show you have an interest in geology.
These can include:
- Studying AS or A-level geology or physical geography
- Trips you have been on with school, family or friends that have involved an aspect of geoscience, such as climbing holidays or visits to museums like the Natural History Museum in London or the Scarborough Rotunda, North Yorkshire. What did you find fascinating about them?
- Membership or participation with local geological conservation groups, clubs such as Rockwatch, or outdoor pursuit clubs like climbing, caving, diving or hiking.
- Previous or future participation in geoscience events (either in or outside school), such as the National Schools Geology Challenge or any events in Earth Science Week
- Relevant books you have read and TV programmes/films you have seen that have fascinated you. Think a little further than volcanoes and earthquakes here - what about climate change, or the oil and mining industries?
- Perhaps there are eminent geologists you follow on social media, or whose work you are particularly familiar with. This is a really good way to demonstrate to universities that you have some familiarity with the work research staff undertake.
Things you can contribute to student life
What about your other extra-curricular activities, such as sports, music, languages etc? Having an interest in pursuing these while you are at university suggests you will be contributing to student life beyond your studies, as well as demonstrating that you are a dedicated individual.
Why you think an undergraduate university degree will be beneficial to your aspirations
- Will it really help you in pursuing a chosen career path?
- Is it the start of longer-term academic studies? Perhaps you hope to go on to post-graduate study afterwards.
- Will learning from highly-regarded geologists be useful to you?
- What parts/courses in the degree are you really looking forward to?
Effective writing skills
The personal statement is also an opportunity to demonstrate that you can write clearly, concisely and effectively. Spelling and grammar must be correct; this shows that you have proof-read the document and that you care about getting these aspects right.
There is no need to use overly complicated terminology, but ensure it’s not overly simplified. As a guide, if your teachers do not recognise some of the words you are using then you have probably used terms which are too technical.
After your project
Each region has a Nuffield Celebration Event. This is a chance for all the Nuffield students from that region to get together and celebrate their achievements. It's also an opportunity to invite your parents, teachers and supervisors along to show them what you've done. At the Celebration Event, you'll be able to exhibit your poster, and you may be asked to do a short presentation or answer some questions on your work. It's not an exam - it's a chance to show off what you have achieved, so enjoy the event!
How can I take my project further?
Your Nuffield project can be used towards a range of other opportunities.
Lots of students put their projects forward for a CREST Gold Award which is a well respected accreditation scheme that you can include in your university applications. The CREST Awards are endorsed by UCAS for inclusion in a personal statement.
You can also use your project to enter local and national science fairs. Nuffield students always do well at the National Science + Engineering Competition, and it's free to enter, so why not submit your project for that? Prizes at the competition include trips to international science fairs in the USA and Europe, as well as many others.
Another possibility is to publish your research project as an article in the Young Scientists Journal (YSJ). The YSJ is a free, online science journal which is written, edited and published by young scientists for young scientists, aged between 12-20. You can submit a contribution to the journal by uploading it on their website.
Remember, your Nuffield project is great to talk about in your UCAS personal statement. Your Coordinator can give you more guidance on this.
Join our Alumni Network
As a member of the Nuffield Research Placement Alumni Network, you'll get the opportunity to become a Nuffield Ambassador, attend events and encourage future Nuffield students to apply for the scheme. Take a look at our Alumni page to find out more.
Also on the web
You can find out more about the National Science + Engineering Competition on the NSEC website
For information about publishing your research work in a student journal, visit the Young Scientists Journal website