Humanities and Social Sciences

Humanities & Social Sciences Personal Statement Examples

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Anthropology (2014 Entry)

Geography (2012 Entry)

Geography (2013 Entry)

Geography (2014 Entry)

Geography / Environmental Science (pre-2012 Entry)

History & Politics (2012 Entry)

History (pre-2012 Entry)

Law (2012 Entry)

Politics/International Relations (2014 Entry)

Social Anthropology (2013 Entry)

Social Anthropology (2013 Entry)

Town Planning (2012 Entry)



Anthropology (2014 Entry)

A visit to Japan sparked my interest in anthropology.  It was the first time that I had been in a situation where I did not fully understand why people were acting in the way they did – for example, when witnessing Shinto Shrine rituals, and where some seemingly familiar activities, like travelling on the underground, were governed by a very different set of rules regarding behaviour than the ones that existed at home.  Being on the 'outside' enabled me to observe my own social structure and normalities with a fresh, critical eye and made me want to widen my understanding of other societies and cultures.  Being able to study this, in depth, is an exciting prospect.

My study of geography has sharpened this enthusiasm and I am particularly interested in how anthropologists are involved in addressing issues around the dilution of indigenous cultures through the effects of globalisation, and also the role that gender plays in different societies.  A recent field trip to Blackpool gave me the opportunity to use my analytical skills in the collection and interpretation of statistics regarding social deprivation levels.  The study of biology has also given me many opportunities to collect data and arrive at evidence based conclusions and I was able to put this to practical use during a week's work experience at the Centre for Life laboratories in Newcastle looking at genetic diseases and their expression in the body.

As a keen artist, I have already built up a portfolio of photography and illustration as another way of recording data and one of my projects focused on how people establish a sense of place in society in relation to where they feel they belong.  I find this opportunity to look at investigations from another perspective particularly rewarding.  I have fed my curiosity about anthropology by taking advantage of opportunities to travel to Morocco and experience the Berber culture, by reading anthropological books and periodicals (including National Geographic), and most importantly by deciding (before university) to work as a teacher in Honduras for a year with the charity Project Trust.  Having the freedom to immerse myself in another country and culture will allow me to bring knowledge and opinions to my university studies that come from first-hand experience.

At school, the debates I have taken part in regarding the damaging impacts of food aid on developing nations' agricultural systems have lead me to consider the wider issues of ethics and morality.  The chance to engage further with philosophical issues like this will make me explore the fundamental truths about myself and the world in which I live.  This in turn will help me consider life's most basic questions.  My interest in philosophy alongside anthropology brings an extra layer of contextual understanding to both subjects.  For example, a study of societies that are still largely governed by religion is bound to raise philosophical questions; while on the other hand, philosophy can help me to consider the wider question of why religion exists in the first place.

I consider myself to be a determined and enthusiastic person who is happiest when getting involved.  Outside my school studies I have helped organise and taken part in a 192 mile walk in 2012 to raise more than £3000 for Hospice at Home and I am a volunteer at the Josie Dragonfly charity shop in Hexham - both these activities improved my organisational skills and the latter has given me an insight into working behind the scenes for a charity.  I am also part of a human rights and Students for Free Tibet group which has expanded my knowledge about many humanitarian issues that are not covered in the media.  In addition, I am currently taking my grade eight piano exam and I have attained grade four in cello.  I also sing in the school choir and have taken part in Youth Theatre for three years which has improved my confidence in public speaking.


Geography (2012 Entry)

If I want to have any influence in the world, I need to understand its complexities; the physical, social and political forces that shape our planet.  The study of geography brings together the crucial interdependence of people and places and the external issues that threaten the sensitive balance of conflicting priorities.

I have always been interested in people, and how where we are, and what we have, has such an influence on what we become.  The teaching of humanities in middle school introduced me to concepts of resource distribution and geopolitics and it was fascinating to learn about life outside my immediate environment.  Visiting family in New Zealand allowed me to see a myriad of contrasting geographical features including volcanoes, glaciers, and geothermal springs and I was inspired to take geography GCSE.

At A level I have enjoyed the combination of theoretical and practical work and have been inspired by fieldtrips and learning outside the classroom.  This summer, through Schools Worldwide I was fortunate enough to complete a weeks' trekking in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.  I saw how humans can adapt to living in altitudes in excess of 4000 metres and temperatures of 40 degrees with no technological assistance or infrastructure, and how fragile is their existence.  It was fascinating to be in North Africa at a time of political instability, when the pro-democracy movement was taking hold.  My A level French skills allowed me to speak to the local people, gaining insight into the indigenous Berber's perspective on the 'Arab Spring'.  In Marrakesh I saw the economic effects of a terrorist attack on a city largely dependent on foreign currency.  Threats of a different nature were apparent when I studied the Pacific islands of Kiribati and Tuvalu.  I was shocked by the severity of the impacts of climate change on people who are powerless and have few resources to cope.  I am troubled by the world's attitude to climate change and the international political response.  To further my understanding I will attend the International Climate Change Conference in London in November 2011.  With my Brazilian drumming group, 'A Batida da Rua' I took part in 'The Wave', the Climate Change protest to draw attention to these issues.

This year I set up a debating society to encourage discussion and debate about matters which are not limited by the curriculum.  I believe that geography is a subject that everyone should study and understand and this was reflected in our very first debate, 'Sustainability is bad for the developing world'.  Running and chairing this society has allowed me to develop skills of leadership, communication and organisation.  I successfully combine a busy school life with a part time job at Fat Face.  It has taught me the importance of reliability and I have taken on responsibilities including being a public face of a brand.  I have learnt diplomacy in dealing with co-workers and members of the public.

In my gap year I have been offered full-time work for six months to earn money prior to my travels.  I hope to undertake a placement with 'Latitude' in Vanuatu, where I will teach and be involved in environmental projects.  I am looking forward to being immersed in a culture so different from my own, and living simply.

I volunteered at Scripture Union's 'Hexham Holiday Club' for four years, and I know the personal reward of sharing skills and talents with other people.  I have also taken part in numerous projects, teaching young children about the music and culture of Brazil and leading workshops in samba drumming.  I play the clarinet, sing in my school choir and have been heavily involved in my community Youth Theatre. I represent my school and area teams in football, netball and cricket.

I look forward to studying geography and learning from academics at the forefront of their discipline.  I hope to immerse myself in the university experience.


Geography (2013 Entry)

Growing up in a rural landscape the topicality and diversity of geography has always captivated me.  From urban housing projects extending into local green belts to an El Nino year causing drought in Australia, thus increasing the price of wheat on our home farm, I have found geography increasingly becoming an integral part of my life.

Studying economics at A level has enabled me to take an alternative approach to many themes studied within geography.  For example the impending global food crisis from an economic perspective can be explained by market failure.  The nature of agriculture in developed nations leads to overproduction and artificially low prices, as Paul Robert describes in "The End of Food".  I believe that the current unsustainable characteristics of the global food supply including environmental degradation, loss of top soil and heavy debt could be removed by adjusting subsidies to take into account market prices.  This would provide farmers with a guaranteed income even if prices fell, allowing them to act more sustainably in addition to lowering government expenditure when commodity prices are high.  The study of mathematics has also aided my study of geography; by taking an empirical approach to problems presented I am able to rigorously analyse them.  I look forward to developing this by studying GIS both at university and as a potential career option.

Geopolitics has long been a particular interest of mine within the field of geography due to its complexity and relevance to a range of issues from the environment to economics.  Investigating superpowers in A level geography has given me a basic understanding of current trends in the subject, such as the rise of China and the recent stagnation of Europe.  The range of differing opinions between experts on geopolitics intrigues me.  For example in "The New North" Lawrence Smith emphasises the effect of climate change on the global political system, suggesting that nations of high northern latitudes will increase in power due to the exploitation of resources currently commercially unviable.  On the contrary George Freidman argues in "The Next 100 Years" that climate change is a Malthusian scare, focusing on the effect of military power, and dismissing regions such as Canada as inconsequential.

The recent Rio +20 summit and the study of both economics and geography have intensified my interest in world development.  I am currently writing an extended project measuring the most significant geographical factors preventing economic growth in Southern Africa, to combine both human and physical geography.  Stimulated by Paul Collier's "The Bottom Billion" and Robert Kaplan's "The Revenge of Geography", I believe that economic development is underpinned by physical factors such as a climate, ocean access and natural resource wealth.  This interest in development and desire to gain more life experience before starting university has encouraged me to participate in a gap year with Project Trust, in which I will be living in Asia for 12 months teaching English.

Work experience at Roxburgh Environmental Consultants has allowed me to see geographical problems being addressed in industry.  During my time I researched into the industry of shipping iron ore and the environmental consequences of its extraction and movement.  In addition, an internship with my local MP allowed me to investigate my local geography; from decreasing tourism to future infrastructure plans to developing high speed broadband.  This experience improved my ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real world problems, such as conducting a survey to examine rural deprivation.  Being project manager on the Engineering Education Scheme gave me an insight into realistic time management involved in business.


Finally, I am a keen sportsman, playing both cricket and rugby for local teams, something which I wish to continue at university.  I look forward to continuing to learn and develop at university.


Geography (2014 Entry)

Somebody asked me recently why I enjoyed geography, stating that it wasn't a subject in its own right but simply combined other subjects like geology and anthropology.  I argued that this was exactly why it had captivated my interest and kept me riveted.  To me geography is the meeting point between art and science, looking at humanity's relationship with the earth; at the fundamental topic of existence.  Family holidays to notable geographical locations such as New Zealand, Wales, Devon and Scotland, plus a school excursion to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, offered unique insights into immensely different cultures and landscapes fuelling my passion.  During my studies human geography really gripped my attention, introducing me to current concerns for example; issues surrounding rural and urban life and the complications involved.


My personal interest in climate change has led to my research on society's role in managing it.  I found Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" particularly enlightening and educational, whilst subscribing to National Geographic allowed me access to the interactive map "If All the Ice Melted" depicting the effect of climate change on developing countries and sea levels if we continue polluting.  The article "The Global Food Crisis" led to my interest in world hunger and the unfairness of our situation on underdeveloped nations as the development gap seems to be widening.  I am constantly curious about the environmental, social and economic issues involved in the complex relationship between humans and their environment.


Having Spanish alongside geography provides a particular insight into the connection between the environmental and social sides of geography.  Spanish language and culture interest me, due to my lessons with their emphasis on communication and my two exchange visits to Madrid.  The exchanges have enabled me to develop my knowledge of the Spanish language and gain further understanding of the Spanish way of life, whilst improving my confidence immensely and forming firm friendships with both of the girls with whom I stayed.  I am finding reading 'Como Agua Para Chocolate' for my research based essay very interesting and am enjoying gaining an insight into early twentieth century Mexican life.  My Spanish teachers have positively influenced my enthusiasm for Spanish and I am now assisting them in some year nine lessons to encourage and support other students in their language learning.


My aspiration to become a teacher led me to volunteer at a community play scheme over the summer and to become a young leader in a brownie pack, helping teach young people about a range of global and local problems, hoping to inspire them.  I often link this with my involvement with human rights, raising awareness and funds for Amnesty International and high profile cases of human rights abuse around the world; such as the problems surrounding Tibetan freedom.  Last summer I raised money for the Education Centre for Children with Down's syndrome and Hospice at Home by planning and walking the 192 mile coast to coast route with friends gaining a sense of achievement and purpose.  I volunteer weekly with local charity Josie's Dragonfly Trust and recently completed my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award.  I was in my school's Youth Theatre and Choir for many years and have maintained a Sunday job throughout my studying.  These activities have developed my teamwork skills and I hope that my interest and involvement demonstrates my dedication and hard working attitude which I believe can translate to the same work ethic I have for my education.  This next step to university will allow me to work with similarly driven students enthusiastic about Spanish and working at the cutting edge of geography; the opportunities to spend time abroad will help me to develop as an individual, expand my comprehension of geography and Spanish on a global scale and allow me to contribute to the university community as a result of my experiences.


Geography / Environmental Science (pre-2012 Entry)

I have always had a passion for geography which my GCSE and A Level studies, including residential field trips in Cumbria and Northumberland, have served only to enhance.  I particularly enjoy the challenge that advanced study presents of applying critical and analytical thought to data, processes and the resolution of issues.  I therefore felt that the decision to seek to enter university and continue such studies at degree level was an easy one for me to make.  Physical geography has always interested me particularly.  I have been fascinated from an early age by the way in which physical processes, both natural and induced, historical and current, have changed and shaped our common habitat and planet.  A degree in geography would broaden my knowledge and allow me to pursue my interest in this subject further, hopefully leading ultimately to a career involving an aspect of this discipline.

Along with geography, the three AS subjects I studied were biology, physics and ancient history.  All 
involved the application of academic skills such as research, evaluation and analysis, preparing me 
for degree level study.  Biology and physics have also helped me better understand the science and 
mechanics that lie behind various earth science disciplines.  History, too, engages with the study of 
change across huge perspectives of time that is equally pertinent when considering geographical 
concepts.  I am well prepared to undertake a degree in geography.  I feel sure that, given the chance, I would be an asset to both course and institution.

In May 2006 I spent an enjoyable two weeks' work experience with the Animal Health Department of DEFRA.  This involved duties in both the office as part of an administration team and the field (on-farm).  As well as gaining important experience, I was given the chance to meet a wide range of people and gain a clearer idea of the demands that working life brings.

I have also been involved in a number of extra-curricular activities, not only to complement my studies but for recreation and to gain an insight into life outside school.  I have a great love of sport.  I currently attend a variety of sports clubs including badminton, tennis and archery.  I receive badminton coaching and compete in tournaments.  I like to play football, snooker and chess.  I also belong to a uni-hockey (indoor hockey) team that plays league games weekly.  Participation in these sports has given me the chance to develop important communication and leadership skills, allowing me to demonstrate improved teamwork and, as a result, better handle situations of pressure and responsibility.

By going to university, I hope to add to my experiences and develop my skills by taking full advantage of the opportunities that tertiary education provides.  The chance to participate in university life is one I would relish and my aim would be to contribute as much as possible.  I believe that a geography degree course will prove both enjoyable and intellectually satisfying.  Although future career prospects have played their part, my primary reason for choosing geography is simply the wish to continue learning about the subject I have a genuine passion for, and the chance to continue my education in an area I find both challenging and fascinating is one I would be pleased to accept.


History & Politics (2012 Entry)

My reason for applying to study history and politics is based on a deep and growing interest in these subjects which has been strengthened during my A level studies and a recent internship with local MP Guy Opperman.


Throughout my A level studies I have been fascinated by the way in which the thread of politics runs through every subject, from the political theories of Hobbes and Locke in philosophy to the anti-war poetry of Owen.  My history studies have nurtured my passion for both history and politics, as the two subjects are strongly linked in the course.  For example, the British history content of the course which was based on 20th century politics sparked a greater interest in domestic politics and led me to seek an internship.  I am also interested in the political and social context of literature in my wider reading, seeing works by authors such as Orwell and Conrad as valuable historical commentary.  In addition, reading works by Marx and Graves has given me a better understanding of political ideology and the impact of war.


My passion for history has led me to be selected to represent my school on the Holocaust Education Trust 'Lessons from Auschwitz' project, in which 6th form students visit Auschwitz.  Meeting a holocaust survivor in an associated seminar gave me a moving insight into the reality of these events and led me to explore whether or not lessons have been learnt in view of more recent atrocities in Rwanda and Sarajevo.  After the visit I will be presenting my thoughts to the school and want to communicate the impact of the political ideology behind 'the final solution' in its historical context but also from a personal perspective having visited the site.

My internship provided me with an excellent insight into the workings of a constituency office and strengthened my decision to make politics part of my further studies.  I found working with the constituency team extremely rewarding and particularly enjoyed the projects which I undertook.  I supported an initiative to gain funding for the refurbishment of several high schools in the county.  During this I helped to gather a petition, which was submitted to the Prime Minister's office, co-wrote a press release and raised awareness within my school. I also organised a community drop-in event relating to council elections.

This year I passed the degree course module "An Introduction to Law in Contemporary Scotland" via the Open University.  It provided an insight into the history and process of law-making and how strongly it is influenced by political, social and technological change.  My studies provided the opportunity to work with a personal tutor and to study independently, an environment close to that which I will find at university.  I found the process both stimulating and rewarding.

My other interests are centred on music.  I play the classical guitar and achieved grade 4, finding the discipline of the classical instrument extremely valuable in developing my skills as an electric guitarist with my band.  I have performed twice at the Sage Gateshead as part of the International Guitar School.  I also sing in the bass section of the school choir and recently we undertook a major work with the Samling Foundation.  The foundation exists to inspire musical excellence in young people through tuition by professional musicians.  The highlight of this was a concert at Hexham Abbey covering a range of orchestral and operatic pieces.  These activities have enhanced my creativity through performing with people from a range of musical disciplines.

In applying for this course I want to be able to enrich and extend my understanding of politics and history.  I am looking forward to the freedom and intellectual challenges offered by a university education and although undecided about my eventual career I am interested in law and see this course as a solid foundation to potential post graduate study.


History (pre-2012 Entry)

History is the subject I have enjoyed most throughout my academic career and I have always
approached it enthusiastically: therefore studying history at degree level is a really attractive prospect and has always been an ambition of mine.

What particularly attracts me about studying history at university is the opportunity to cover a wide range of historical periods, and the opportunity to analyse texts and resources.  This would allow me to expand my knowledge on various historical topics.  The wide range of resources available at university excites me.  In the sixth form I have managed successfully to merge both class discussion and private study.  This has proved most enjoyable; as I find writing an essay on a topic I have researched myself to be very rewarding.  I am aware that at university I will be given many opportunities to do independent research, and this, combined with learning and discussing alongside my peers, is very attractive to me.  In order to gain a deeper insight into historical topics I have read widely. George Orwell's social investigation into northern England in his "Road to Wigan Pier" is something I found particularly interesting.  At school I have mainly studied modern American and British history, which I find engrossing; however I also hold an interest in earlier periods from 500AD onwards.  I am particularly keen to study further into these periods at university, as naturally there will be more resources available.  Studying in a city will allow me to broaden my knowledge, as it will expose me to the heritage of a different environment.

As well as AS and A level history I have studied English literature, geography, religious studies and general studies in the sixth form, and I have continued studying geography and religious studies at A2 level.  These subjects have all combined to give me a new perspective when studying history.  Geography has given me the opportunity to look at historical issues from a social scientist's perspective.  An example of this is researching favelas in Brazil, which gave me a greater insight in to the American ghettos that I studied in history.  The ethical theories I have covered in religious studies have helped me to understand the moral dilemmas that various political leaders have gone through.  Religious studies has also allowed me to carry out personal research in my AS level year, investigating my own topic for coursework.  This has given me a good, early grounding into personal and private study.  From English literature I have gained good communication and writing skills, something which has always helped me to construct essays.

Outside of school I play basketball and was part of a team which won a regional title.  This allowed me to experience working in a team, and to appreciate that hard work brings rewards.  In addition to playing I also coached younger players, which I found very rewarding.  I have a keen interest in sport and literature, and have had letters published in various magazines including "FourFourTwo" and "Shoot".  This has helped inspire my passion for writing, which one day I hope will lead to working for a magazine or newspaper, preferably commenting on politics and current affairs.  I have also held part time jobs since I was 15; these have all installed a strong work ethic into me, and have given me responsibilities such as cash handling and customer care.  This has allowed me to become more independent, something which I think will help me in university life.

Studying history at university is something I have always worked for, and I regard the prospect as both the culmination of my hard work at school, and the beginning of a successful adult life.  I look forward thoroughly to the challenge and experience of university.


Law (2012 Entry)

In recent years, the way in which the law works and its influence on society has captured my interest greatly.  I am fascinated by developments in the law, and avidly read legal journals and follow news headlines in order to increase my knowledge of the subject.  The significance of the law in daily life increased my curiosity so much so, that at the age of 14 I chose to study GCSE law outside of school, continuing onto AS and A level law at the age of 15.  As one of the top 4 candidates in the North East region, I was proud to be awarded the 'Muriel Lynch Memorial Prize'.  Having completed the full A level within one academic year, my desire and drive to achieve my ambition of becoming a barrister is even stronger.
In order to learn more about every aspect of the role of a barrister and to avoid any naivety about what the occupation may entail, I submitted a successful application and spent a week at Newcastle Crown Court on a work experience placement.  In this time I shadowed two barristers, observing the key aspects of their role, and was particularly intrigued at the high level of advocacy and paperwork that was required.  Even after witnessing the long hours and dedication that were required for each case, my passion for the subject never faltered.  Recently I have secured two further opportunities to shadow barristers at Trinity and New Court Chambers in Newcastle Upon Tyne.  I have also spent time in the public gallery observing court cases, and continue to be fascinated by the court room dynamic.  My drive to study law at degree level has grown immensely since carrying out these placements.  In order to prepare fully for my degree, I have accepted the invitation of a barrister to carry out regular work shadowing in the coming year, allowing me to spend ample time in the courtroom and chambers environment.
My choice of courses in the Sixth Form was taken to provide me with the best foundation for studying law.  Studying economics, history and psychology at A level has developed my skills in research based thinking and essay writing, and I have thoroughly enjoyed working hard to achieve in subjects which I am passionate about.  A long term interest of mine, both in and out of school, is musical theatre.  I have enjoyed taking part in many school Youth Theatre productions.  In 2010 I chose to undertake the Bronze award in LAMDA and received a merit.  Having seen how beneficial my experience within drama has been for my confidence, particularly in public speaking, I was eager to pass this confidence onto others.  For this reason, last autumn, I volunteered to assist with the Christmas Show at The Priory, a school for children with special needs.  I felt that my ability to voice my ideas clearly and to remain patient allowed the children to grow in confidence and to become aware of what they could achieve.  Through partaking in both academic and extra-curricular activities, whilst still finding time to socialise, I have learnt the importance of, and thoroughly enjoyed mastering a full 'work-life balance'.
The last few years of my academic life have been devoted to my future in studying law at degree level, and I have worked hard in order to provide myself the best foundation with which to start.  I eagerly look forward to the challenge of studying law and the platform this will give me to begin my own research and, ultimately, to build a career within the legal profession.  I would feel privileged to have the opportunity to devote my time to studying a subject that I find so intriguing and enjoyable.


Politics/International Relations (2014 Entry)

My ambition to pursue a career in Politics and International Relations has been influenced by living in the USA, Germany, and the UK; this has introduced me to different political systems and diverse cultural and constitutional principles.  The breadth and multi-disciplinary nature of the subjects fascinates me and I can currently envisage pursuing a career in foreign affairs, at an NGO or as a politician.

My involvement in the School Council and active participation in my school's Human Rights Group have also been important contributing factors to my desire to study Politics and International Relations.  The Human Rights Group is involved in Amnesty International campaigns and first introduced me to the political situation in Tibet since the Chinese invasion.  This issue particularly caught my interest and I was excited to travel to a Tibetan refugee settlement in Southern India to learn more about life in exile; encouraging me to undertake further research and cofound a 'Students for a Free Tibet' campaign group within school.  I gave presentations on the human rights violations in Tibet at the local Rotary Club as well as school assemblies and PSHE lessons.  I really enjoyed the challenge of presenting to such diverse audiences.

Work experience at the African Health Policy Network in London helped me to understand the relevance of lobbying, campaigning and advocating at local, regional and national levels.  In addition, working in my local constituency office allowed me to experience politics at grassroots level and appreciate the truth in what Kenneth Minogue writes in 'Politics, a very short introduction', that 'most political drama[...] takes place in local and regional offices'.  I have also established close contacts regarding internships with the German Consulate in Edinburgh and CBM, a disability charity in Brussels that is closely working with the WHO, as I would like to gain more practical political experience.

Attending a lecture by renowned political philosopher Michael J. Sandel on the impact of a market economy on democracy, increased my interest in political discussions about democratic values.  This lead me to read Sandel's book, 'Justice - what's the right thing to do?', which is undoubtedly a fundamental question for all of us.  Listening to the Hexham Debates on Justice, Peace, and Democracy has also nurtured my enthusiasm, as have numerous articles in 'Der Spiegel' and 'The Economist'.

At school, I feel my A-levels have also helped prepare me for my chosen field of undergraduate study.  In history I learnt about political strategies, philosophies and the effectiveness of governments.  It was an excellent introduction to US foreign policy during the Vietnam War and British politics during the 20th century.  I found studying Atlee's Labour Government and the Welfare State particularly interesting.  A-level economics has been beneficial as it has helped me to practise critical and analytical thinking skills relevant for decision making, and it explored the impact government policies can have on societies.

Being trilingual provides me with a unique tool for engaging with local communities and their way of life as was proven to me during study trips to a number of countries such as Morocco and France.  I learnt that direct interaction with people provides a more immediate and unbiased insight into their culture and society.

Outside of academia I enjoy music and sports.  I play the clarinet and piano at grade 8 and have performed in ensembles, participated in music festivals and I teach the piano.  Although I have played football and netball, athletics is my real sporting passion.  I have competed at several English Schools' competitions in single and multi-events and was nominated for the young Tynedale sports personality of the year.

I am now looking forward to pursuing my career aspirations through the in-depth study of Politics and International Relations at university level.


Social Anthropology (2013 Entry)

I am applying for Social Anthropology because I am fascinated by what it is to be human.  I would like to study and gain an insight into the wonderful variations of how and why, humans past and present operate, and the cultures they create.

I have been listening to anthropology podcasts of lectures and events uploaded by various universities as a way of exploring the subject.  I found Professor Daniel Everett's explanation of why the Piraha people, an Amazonian tribe, appear to be so happy.  The reason he gave was that they have no language for the distant past or distant future and so they cannot regret what has happened in the past or worry about the future which I found an intriguing concept.  I also listened to Professor Chris Gosden talking about how humans did not develop agriculture for economic reasons, since farmers spent more time and effort than hunter-gatherers would getting food, but rather for social reasons such as material competition.  He argues that crafting larger and more complex goods, which could be used to show off and gain social standing led to localised intensive production which drew early humans into farming.

I also visited the British Museum as many of its exhibits had been first collected as part of ethnographical collections.  The exhibit which intrigued me most was a series of stone wall carvings from the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis, which showed Medians, Indians, Bactrians, Ionians, Cappadocians and Persians.  All these foreign peoples were carved not as smaller than the Persians, as was common of the period to show inferiors, nor were they depicted as being conquered.  They were shown as equals to the Persians and this fact was being celebrated in the Palace of King Darius.  It opened my eyes to the fact that the Persians saw their country as a cultural melting pot rather like the USA sees itself today.  Within the study of anthropology, looking at cultures and societies from an insider's perspective is deeply appealing, as it gives a more nuanced and fuller understanding of how and why they think and act as they do.  I have also taken the opportunity to read further into the field with books such as Frazer's 'The Golden Bough' as well as 'Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies' by Jared Diamond, to deepen my knowledge of anthropology.

Studying English literature, history, philosophy and economics at A level has given me an appetite for the study anthropology.  History and English literature have given me analytical and essay writing skills.  Economics has given me the skills to analyse data and apply it whilst understanding its biases and fallibilities.  Philosophy has been very useful in helping me grapple with very complex, often counter-intuitive ideas and express in an argument in a logical, precise way, as well as understanding and addressing the criticisms that could be levelled at that argument.

Playing rugby as well as being a member of an abbey choir have taught me vital skills about teamwork but in different ways.  Within rugby I have learnt the importance of being able and willing to adapt to what the rest of the team is doing.  In choir I have learnt to collaborate with people aged up to and well into their sixties, who come from a variety of backgrounds, and have to work with them and be held to the same standard as them regardless of my age.  Learning to play the violin and the piano have been an experience in self-motivation, individual study and perseverance as well as helping my organisational skills.


The fusion of social sciences, the humanities and natural sciences creates a vast territory of knowledge within anthropology, which is integral to what makes it so engaging and enticing.  It is not just that it is a launching pad onto a variety of fields of work in later life, but that it is an exciting subject which is valuable in and of itself.


Social Anthropology (2013 Entry)

I was first introduced to anthropology in the summer after finishing my GCSEs, when I was given the opportunity as a pupil on the Gifted and Talented register to attend a summer school at Durham University.  I had never heard of the subject before, but after doing some research I decided to give it a go.  When I got to Durham it struck me that I had found a name for the things that I had been interested in for years: identifying the universal aspects of societies across the world, discovering the roots of human behaviours and interactions, and the fact that small communities often mirror the wider world.  Before I knew what it was, my interest in anthropology had manifested itself in my enthusiasm for humanitarian charity work, and my ambition of world travel.  I have wanted to travel since a very young age, inspired mainly by my parents' trip to South America before I was born.  This year my wish has started to come true, as I have been lucky enough to visit the Atlas Mountains in Morocco with the organisation Schools Worldwide, and in February will be part of a group visiting a Tibetan children's refuge in southern India.  This trip will hopefully be the beginning of a larger exchange project with the children in the refuge, and will be organised entirely by a small group of students and teachers, myself included.  I have decided to defer my entrance to university so that I can travel by participating in Working on Organic Farms (WOOFing).  I believe that I will be better prepared for an anthropology course if I have experienced some of these cultures for myself, so this year out will be an invaluable opportunity for me to broaden my cultural knowledge and experience.

Aside from world issues and travelling, I enjoy playing a wide range of music, from local folk tunes to South American and Afro-Caribbean samba and reggae.  I have also played in a community folk band for 4 years, going from being one of the quietest members of the group to one of the most vocal, having immensely improved my self-confidence and ability to perform and speak in front of a theatre full of people.

I have been a dedicated member of my school's Human Rights group since September 2008, when I started high school.  As a group we respond to "urgent action" requests by Amnesty International, and form our own links with community groups and charities locally and worldwide.  These include the Tashi Lhunpo foundation, and the Comfrey Project; a Newcastle based group which provides social interaction and emotional support in the form of allotments and cookery classes to asylum seekers and refugees who are waiting for their appeal to be processed.  The Comfrey Project is particularly close to my heart, as I was assigned to get in touch with them on behalf of the school group.  I visited their headquarters in Newcastle, and ended up coming to help out at an anniversary ceilidh.  That evening is and will remain one of the best nights of my life.  I will never forget the feeling of being part of a group of people from 90 different countries, with no universal language (in the literal sense) all dancing and laughing together.

I have been hugely inspired by my experiences in the Human Rights group.  This is why I have chosen to couple anthropology with politics or law at university, as I think these subjects would help me apply my enthusiasm for promoting equality in a practical way, so that I can make a real difference to individuals.  I am studying geography, sociology and maths at A2, and I think that geography and especially sociology will give me a good grounding for studying anthropology.  I have also read "Small Places, Large Issues" by Thomas Hylland Eriksen, by the recommendation of the lecturer at the Durham University Summer School.  The book has vastly improved my knowledge of anthropology as a science, and also helped me realise that politics or law would help me tailor my degree towards the career that I am hoping to pursue in the field of human rights issues.



Town Planning (2012 Entry)

I have chosen to apply for town planning as I find the course's structure and content new, interesting and exciting.  I have always been enthusiastic about the subject of geography and more specifically the human aspects.  University will present me with an opportunity to study a subject that will suit my interests and help me to shape a career path as a town planner.  I find the approaches to rebranding and regeneration fascinating.  I enjoy discovering the reasons behind problems such as social or economic decline and knowing that there are suitable solutions and how these can be put into effect.  Planning is also an issue that I am aware of in both local and national news.  Locally, wind turbines are causing huge debates within Northumberland.  The Coalition's movement towards the Localism Bill is in the national news recently as it wants to give local communities increasing control in development plans in their area.  By applying for this course it covers aspects of development and regeneration, be it social, economic or environmental along with new topics such as policies, urban design and actual planning processes.
History has developed my analytical and research skills, which are essential in degree level study and can be used to my advantage in other subject areas.  This degree is also based around the protection of different environments such as urban, rural or historic; therefore studying history at A level has made me more aware of the conservation and maintenance of historic buildings, which can be achieved through management planning.  English literature has improved my communication skills through debates and text analysis.
Recently, I spent 2 weeks working at Northumberland National Park Authority in the planning department.  This interesting experience gave me an insight into both sides of planning; policy and development management.  I went out on field visits (around the National Park), reviewed planning documents and even had a taste of archiving.  I also had the opportunity to sit in on a Local Development Framework (LDF) meeting, which was a fascinating experience seeing how contemporary planning principles were applied.  I also got to spend time with the local Community Officer, who supports local communities in the policy and decision making process, as a part of the Coalition's Localism Bill.  This work experience placement was highly rewarding as it showed me how one authority, whose main priority is conserving and enhancing the natural environment, deals with planning applications and gives relevant advice.
I consider myself to have a positive work ethic, which has been developed through a range of part time employment since I was 16 years old.  I have learned to become a strong independent worker, who is adaptable to challenges.  I also volunteer in a local Age UK charity shop one afternoon a week and feel I can give something back to the community and try to raise as much money for the charity by improving sales.  I have always enjoyed Netball and play for my school's sixth form team, and have represented Tynedale for the U18 girl's rugby team.  This has shown me how important teamwork is in order to be successful.  Outside school I regularly go to Zumba dance classes, which I find great fun and energising.  I also visit the gym, as this helps me to maintain a healthy balance between study and social activities.
A town planning degree with RTPI accreditation will provide me with a stimulating challenge, which will lead to my ultimate career goal of becoming a town planner.  I am truly excited by the opportunities university study and life will provide me and believe I have a great deal to offer. 

Last modified: Thursday, 29 May 2014, 12:43 PM