Joint Honours

Joint Honours Personal Statement Examples

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Education Studies and English (2014 Entry)

English and Music (pre-2012 Entry)

Mathematics and Philosophy (2013 Entry)

Physics and Music (pre-2012 Entry)



Education Studies and English (2014 Entry)

A degree in English and Education would enable me to study a course which I am deeply passionate about and which I believe would be beneficial for a range of future career choices, including my aim of possibly becoming a primary teacher.  The prospect of nurturing the imagination and creativity of young children; to inspire them to love reading and writing as I do encourages me to pursue this pathway.

Having studied both English literature and English language at A Level, I have embraced aspects of both subjects.  Whilst I have enjoyed reading classic novels for my English literature course, such as The Great Gatsby and Tess of the d'Urbervilles, the analytical nature of English language has appealed to me more.  The study of language in social contexts and language change is particularly fascinating to me as, growing up, my family lived in several areas of the country and I have always been interested in how and why people use language in the ways they do.  As part of my A Level English language course, I studied the use of language in a sitcom and enjoyed the transcription and subsequent analysis.  Currently, I am studying child language acquisition, which is crucial for a primary teacher hoping to develop their pupils' communication skills; I find this fascinating as it is something I am interested in pursuing.  I also feel that my creative writing skills are particularly strong; I was recently awarded a prestigious prize in my school's annual writing competition.  These skills were demonstrated in my English language coursework for which I wrote the opening to a novel, based on those written by Agatha Christie.

Whilst my English studies at school have developed certain strengths, my work experience in local first and middle schools has provided me with other skills.  During this time I was able to work individually with children who found core subjects difficult.  For example, a child in Year 4 was unable to read simple words so I worked patiently with him and suggested that he read each syllable out loud before he attempted the whole word.  This technique proved effective as by the end he was able to read sentences slowly, but completely.

My part-time voluntary work at the local 'Save the Children' charity book shop enables me to share my love and knowledge of books, in particular my passion for encouraging children to read selected novels which I enjoyed as a child myself, for instance, Malory Towers by Enid Blyton.  In addition to this, I have recently taken a job in a family where the mother needs help on various days throughout the month.  My role is to take care of her children, who are two and four years old, as well as her three lively dogs.  I also have a job as a waitress in a local pub and restaurant and I assist my parents with their Holiday Cottages business by creating copy, posters and advertisements, which I believe has extended my writing skills.

I consider myself to have been an active member in the schools I have attended; my roles as both a Librarian and a Prefect have required me to guide and assist younger students.  For example, I acted as a student mentor, where younger students could come and talk to me about any problems they had. I felt this was valuable time spent as I succeeded in helping a number of troubled students talk through their worries and lessen their burden.

Although my academic studies require a great deal of commitment, I also enjoy making use of my spare time by playing the clarinet and the piano, for which I am currently working towards Grade 6, taking part in sports such as badminton, tennis and horse-riding as well as regularly attending the gym.  I have developed my language skills over the years; in particular my Spanish, and embraced my love of history, taking part in a trip to Auschwitz and Birkenau.

I look forward to beginning this course which I hope will provide me with new and exciting experiences and challenges and will help me to build a future career as a primary teacher.


English and Music (pre-2012 Entry)

I am applying for a joint honours degree course in English and music because I have a deep passion for both subjects.  I have always had a great interest in music journalism from a range of genres and see this as a possible future career to combine my two loves.  I have greatly enjoyed reading and writing from a young age, and am drawn to a variety of literary styles.  I am particularly inspired by American literature, after studying Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye' and Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby'.  I have also been influenced by Keats' poetry and many of Shakespeare's plays including 'Measure for Measure' and 'Othello', which I saw at the Donmar Warehouse in London.  Currently, I am enjoying Orwell's '1984'; I especially love Orwell's descriptive style of writing, and find it stimulating from both literary and political viewpoints.  Studying philosophy has enabled me to place literary texts in their political context and understand the ideals behind them, for example Orwell's attack on totalitarianism in '1984'.

In A Level music, I have particularly enjoyed the composition and performance aspects of the course, as well as the analytical view of popular music, jazz and small ensemble.  The Bach chorales have helped greatly in my understanding of harmony and counterpoint and have played an important role in my more recent composition work.  I achieved Grade 5 in practical piano and music theory in 2004, and am currently working on Grade 8 on both piano and drum kit, which I expect to have achieved by next year.  I have taught myself to play guitar, which, combined with piano, helps me to understand harmony in a variety of contexts.  For the last 4 years, I have been a committed alto member of the school choir, and taken part in many concerts: most recently a performance of 'The Armed Man' by Karl Jenkins.  Last summer, I obtained a place at the Folkworks music summer school in Durham, where I spent a week playing arrangements in small ensembles and taking part in workshops of all kinds of music, from jazz improvisation to body rhythm, culminating with a large performance at the Gala Theatre in Durham.

In school I have been an English mentor with GCSE candidates and I have also taken part in a mock trial, which has helped to improve my debating and public speaking skills.  As a representative on the school council and a member of the performing arts board, I have been involved in making decisions on matters of school policy.  I have always been involved in various drama groups in my local area, and performed in plays, with major roles in front of large audiences.  My school Youth Theatre has been a particularly meaningful experience, and I am soon to take part in my seventh production.  In the last performance, I played the main comic role, and this has helped to further develop my confidence in performing.  I have also taken part in many team sports, involving football, netball and swimming, and have won competitions with these.

My other interests include art, writing poetry and songs, which I have performed with local bands.  I am particularly excited by attending live music events from a whole range of genres, as I believe energy and feel are particularly important in music performance, and this inspires and encourages me to work harder in my own performance work.  I have recently been doing voluntary work with Core Music, a new project in my town.  My role includes working in the instrument shop and running workshops for young people.

I can't wait to finally become a student at degree level and have the opportunity to study intensely the two subjects I truly enjoy and care most about.


Mathematics and Philosophy (2013 Entry)

As a logical thinker with an enthusiasm for reasoned debate, the studies of both mathematics and philosophy have always intrigued and inspired me.  I see these subjects as two of the most fundamental disciplines; mathematics at the root of science, defining what is known of the physical universe, and philosophy as seeking to provide answers to some of the most significant questions on a vast range of ethical, epistemological, and metaphysical topics.

Philosophical reasoning provides the tools with which we can address those problems that science alone cannot solve.  I have always been able to grasp mathematical concepts quickly, but it was not until studying A level mathematics and further maths that I realised how profound can be the implications of such concepts at advanced levels.  This inspired me to read further and I have recently finished reading 'Fermat's Last Theorem'.  The fact that the puzzle remained unsolved for three centuries is intriguing in itself, as is the variety of methods used to discover the proof.  I also found myself fascinated by the history of mathematics outlined in the text; the discovery of new numbers, and the life and work of noted mathematicians such as Pythagoras and Euler.  I have begun reading Alex Bellos' 'Alex's Adventures in Numberland' which focuses on how mathematics relates to our lives.  This particularly interests me and is only lightly touched on in A level mathematics. The opportunity to study maths at degree level would allow me to explore such ideas more deeply.

With little prior knowledge of the subject before beginning my AS level philosophy course, I soon found that it was political philosophy that appealed to me the most.  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading J.S. Mill's 'On Liberty' and 'Utilitarianism'.  Examples of many of the principles he outlines, such as the 'principle of utility', and the 'tyranny of the majority', are apparent in society today and demonstrate just how relevant these issues still are.  I am also developing a deepening interest in the philosophy of mind after at first finding it to be a frustrating topic!  Compelling cases are made for some theories, such as Nagel's article, 'What is it Like to be a Bat?' yet this still does not satisfy David Chalmers' "hard problem of consciousness"; why does qualia exist at all?  With his zombie argument, Chalmers argues that conscious experience is not a necessity for us to seemingly function as we do, thus giving rise to the "hard problem".  I find areas such as this, and others on the forefront of philosophical thinking today, especially fascinating and I would relish the chance to continue to study them at university.

Aside from my academic studies, I am a keen musician and have written and performed music with several bands across the region.  I play a variety of different instruments and am currently working towards grade 7 in classical guitar.  I am also a competent electric guitarist, a semi-proficient pianist, and an experienced drummer currently at grade 8 level.  I sing in the school's choir and male voice choir and frequently perform in the Hexham area.  I also play in a samba drumming group having performed at various local events, including Hexham's bonfire night and the lighting of the Olympic beacons.

Alongside music, I enjoy watersports and am a 3 star kayaker and canoeist, having participated in the Tyne Tour, one of the UK's major kayaking and canoeing events.  I have also helped beginners to learn basic skills at Hexham canoe club.  Holding a Chief Scout award, I have given occasional assistance in organising activities for my local Scout Group.

Studying mathematics and philosophy at A level, combined with further reading, has given me a taste of what higher level study of these subjects could offer.  It is increasingly clear to me that a joint honours degree course would be the ideal channel through which to feed my passion for these subjects and thereby reach the levels of understanding that I wish to achieve.


Physics and Music (pre-2012 Entry)

I have chosen to apply for this joint honours degree because I think it's a unique opportunity, allowing me to study the two main passions of my life: music and acoustics.  Since an early age I have been fascinated by the science of the musical world: having the opportunity to study physics in more depth at A level has allowed my enthusiasm to flourish and I have been intrigued by all the topics covered, particularly the section on wave behaviour.  Having visited university departments, I have been fascinated by reverberation rooms: how tiny angles in the wall can make such a difference.  After completing this course I intend to go on and study at postgraduate level before hopefully becoming employed in an acoustics consultancy firm, allowing me to oversee a range of different projects.

As well as physics, I have purposefully taken a broad range of other subjects in the 6th form.  Chemistry has added significant breath to my scientific understanding, as well as being a fascinating subject in its own right.  Maths has disciplined my brain to think logically, working through processes step by step.  Complementing these, the Bach Chorales in music have also greatly helped in developing my thinking, encouraging me to work logically, step by step according to the rules, but at the same time calling on intuition and an element of creativity.  Other areas in the GCE music syllabus that I enjoy are composition and performance, through which I have managed to develop high levels of concentration and patience.  Studying French to AS level has enabled me to think creatively and independently, I would feel well equipped to undertake a project in any French speaking country where I would need to demonstrate confidence with my communication skills.  Outside lessons I also assist lower school pupils with science studies through the school's mentoring scheme.

Outside the school curriculum I participate in a wide variety of activities; this year I was awarded the organ scholarship at Hexham Abbey where I have been a leading member of the choir since I was a boy treble.  I have had a close musical involvement with the Sage Gateshead music centre since it opened, being a member of the weekend music school and their youth ensemble for the north of England; Young Sinfonia.  Following my contribution to the Sage's youth programme, I was selected to be involved in the testing of the acoustics of their world renowned Hall 1.  I then featured in a BBC documentary where I was asked to give my impressions of it as a performance space.  Within school I also play a leading role in the school ensembles; I have performed solo roles in two recent high-profile performances of Karl Jenkins' 'The Armed Man' and Len Young's 'Blackfriars'.  I also currently lead the main school orchestra as well as the Northumberland Symphony Orchestra.

Alongside music, I enjoy participating in my other hobbies such as sailing. I am a qualified dinghy instructor, and I host junior training sessions at my local reservoir on a voluntary basis.  For some time now I have had a part time job at a local branch of a bakers' chain which has given me excellent opportunities for learning skills such as working under pressure, dealing with the public and thinking on my feet.

I am applying for deferred entry because I am taking a gap year, in which I will spend my time doing a variety of activities.  Firstly I plan to do some ocean sailing where I'm sure I will gain a host of life skills; concentration, team work and patience.  From January I have secured a position in a school in Australia, teaching Music and Science to children up to the age of 13.  I do hope that the above statement will convince you that I will be a dynamic and enthusiastic member of your department, willing to contribute to and participate fully in all aspects of university life.

Last modified: Thursday, 29 May 2014, 1:08 PM