UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


Writing your UCAS personal statement

As part of your UCAS application to a degree course in the United Kingdom, you'll need to write a personal statement. Here we give you an insight into the sorts of things we'll be looking for.

Your UCAS personal statement is an important part of your application to university. It’s a way for admissions tutors to get to know you, especially on courses like ours where there isn’t a face-to-face interview.

UCAS has some really helpful guidance on how to write a personal statement, but here are some of the things that we will be looking for in your application to the Global Humanitarian Studies BSc.

  1. Why you want to study this course
    This is a unique degree and we want to know why the subject appeals to you. Take a look at the prospectus page, read about what you’ll be studying on the course and tell us why you think the subject is right for you.
  2. More about you
    The personal statement is your chance to tell us about yourself. What are your ambitions and passions? What drives you? What do you hope studying this subject will help you achieve? What have you enjoyed studying most at school/college and why?
  3. Your awareness of current issues
    If this course appeals to you, you are probably already aware of some of the issues we explore on the programme. For example, are you concerned about any major global challenges like climate change, refugee crisis, war and conflict, poverty, racism and hatred, pandemics, environmental pollution and natural disasters (flooding, cyclones/storms, tsunami, drought and forest fires)? Do you want to change society? How might you promote the UN sustainable development goals? If you’ve taken part in any activism around an issue, tell us why.
  4. Your experience
    We’re not expecting our applicants to have specific humanitarian sector experience, but please do tell us about any volunteering, charity, or paid work that you have undertaken. You may already have many of the skills that we’ll be developing on the course and at university. Have you organised any outdoor activities or events? Has your part-time job helped you develop time-management or leadership skills? Have you raised money or campaigned for a charity? Written a blog, created videos or produced a podcast? Think about how activities through school or college and in your personal life might be applicable in your studies and future career. What’s important here is not necessarily what you did, but what you learnt from it.
  5. Other activities
    It’s not essential to have belonged to an organisation or completed a challenge, but if you have, tell us about them. Are you a Scout or Girl Guide or belong to another voluntary organisation? Have you achieved any challenge-based or competitive awards, like the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award? Have you attended any taster days or events, especially those organised by the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDR)? What did you learn from taking part in these experiences?

Don’t forget that your personal statement is used for all the courses you apply to, so it’s a good idea to avoid mentioning particular universities or courses specifically. We understand that due to the unique nature of our course, your other choices are likely to be slightly different, but this won’t disadvantage you. The important thing is that we get to know you as a person, and this will be the same for all the institutions you’re applying to.

Please note, as of 2023 entry, we no longer offer the option to submit an additional personal statement for this course.

Our top tips for personal statement writing success

  • Read the UCAS guidance – it has links to other resources too
  • Do your research about the course and the institution, and consider if they are a good fit for you
  • Be truthful, show enthusiasm and let your personality shine through
  • Use the word count carefully – don’t use up valuable words that don’t enhance your statement
  • Check your writing – read it several times, check spelling and grammar, and then ask someone else to read it in case they spot something you have missed
  • Ask for help – most schools will offer support and many universities have guidance on their websites
  • If your other subject choices are very different, think about submitting an additional personal statement for this course

    Next steps

    Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media to hear about ways to meet us before you apply.

    Come to one of the taster events that we run throughout the year. These are currently online but we hope to hold one on campus as soon as it is safe to do so, and details of future events are posted on our website. 

    Meet us at a UCL open day – you can find details of upcoming events on the UCL Open Days website.

    If you have any questions, email us at irdr-education@ucl.ac.uk.

    Good luck!