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Your application to university is one of the most important you’ll make; it’s not an easy process as it requires a lot from you. The personal statement is one step in that process, but it’s also one of the more challenging ones because of what it demands.

A good personal statement will be introspective and analytical in the right places, but also informative and hopefully enjoyable to read. Its purpose is simple: to tell someone who doesn't know you why you’d be a good fit for a degree course in a subject you’re passionate about.

That said, writing a personal statement is far from simple. Not only are you constrained by space limitations, so will have to exclude much of what you’d like to say, but you also have to satisfy several criteria in very few words to make it an effective testimonial to you and your skills.

Don’t worry, though, everyone’s in the same boat and this guide is here to help you face the writing of it step-by-step, including:

Why are Personal Statements Important? 

The personal statement is your chance to convince universities of your readiness and suitability to study a particular degree. This is particularly important for a subject like architecture as you won’t have received any formal instruction in it at school, so proving your capability and passion through the statement is essential.

Of course, other aspects of the application count too, such as predicted grades and references, but the statement allows you to say in your own words why you wish to study architecture above all else. Admissions tutors will want to see clear enthusiasm, as well as evidence that you’ve made a considered and informed choice.

Moreover, universities will rely on the statement throughout the admissions process, right up to the point of making you an offer, so it pays to make sure you include what is important to you personally, and ensure that it's a true reflection of your abilities and potential.


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What Should I Include in an Architecture Personal Statement? 

Since you’re restricted by space, it’s paramount that you make every word count. The statement should aim to paint a representative portrait of your skills, knowledge and potential, and to convey a strong sense of your interest in the subject and your purpose for studying it. It goes without saying that it should focus on you and architecture, but knowing what to put in exactly can be difficult. You’ll find some ideas below to get you started:

Choice of Subject

Out of all the subjects you could have chosen, you chose this one. Why?

This may seem a little simplistic as a place to start, but remember the person reading the statement knows nothing about you unless you tell them. You therefore have to be very clear about why you want to pursue what is a rewarding but very demanding course, and this should include where your interest originated, how you have satisfied that interest to date, and what about a degree course in architecture really appeals to you.

Remember not to make it about any specific university’s course as you’re almost certainly applying to several, and they’ll all receive the same statement.

In short, the reader should be left in no doubt about your passion and enthusiasm for architecture.

Knowledge of the Discipline

You’re hopefully already aware that architecture is a broad discipline, which goes far beyond gothic arches and the Classical Orders. It encompasses ecology, sociology, history, engineering, and AI to name but a few cognate fields. You should aim to show your awareness of architecture’s breadth, and you’ll hopefully be able to give some examples of how you came to realise this.

Additionally, you should point out a few areas which you find particularly interesting, citing works of architecture, books, documentaries, or other sources which sparked or have contributed to your interest. Engaging critically with architectural content is the best way to prove to the admissions tutors that you have made inroads into the discipline through independent research. Don't worry too much about knowing everything, as tutors won’t be looking for any technical or specialist knowledge beyond what you could have acquired through wide reading and engagement with the subject in your spare time.

It also helps to take notes when doing anything connected to the subject as the material may come in handy for the statement and interview.


As architecture is not a subject available at school, there is no expectation that you’ll have any formal training or specialist skillset. That said, other subjects at school, including the sciences, maths, and history will have provided you with skills that are transferable to the study of architecture, such as an appreciation of changing societal mores and tastes, scientific analysis and experimentation, and problem-solving.

It’s a good idea to talk about these skills and how you see them as having prepared you for the study of architecture at university. This both proves your preparedness, as well as your analytical skills when thinking about architecture as a pursuit.

What Should I Avoid in an Architecture Personal Statement? 

While it’s important to show a knowledge of architecture and an active engagement with it, it’s not beneficial simply to list your favourite architects, buildings, or places you’ve visited on holiday without further analysis, as admissions tutors simply won’t be interested.

Instead, you should discuss particular architects or buildings as part of a broader point you’re making, or to demonstrate a particular interest or inspiration in your architecture journey so far. This goes for all resources, including books, films, podcasts, exhibitions, artists; you should never name-drop something or someone in isolation, but rather discuss it analytically.

You should avoid familiar and informal language, but also avoid pretentious and affected turns of phrase and expressions. Equally, don’t include lots of quotations or rely on clichéd lines about ‘always appreciating architraves for as long as I can remember’ as no one will believe you. Any extra-curricular activities or interests should be related back to your proposal to study architecture, so mentioning your Grade 8 flute award is unlikely to add any value.

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Advice on How to Start an Architecture Personal Statement  

Beginning any piece of writing can be a struggle, and personal statements are no exception. There are lots of ways to open your personal statement, so here are a few options that students have gone with in the past.

You could open the personal statement by reflecting on the beginning of your interest in architecture, i.e. where did it all start? Remembering to avoid clichéd openings, grab the reader’s attention by letting them know what first grabbed your attention. Was it a church? Your school? The Pantheon? Whatever it was, communicate how your personal relationship with architecture began and how it burgeoned into a passion.

Alternatively, you could begin by jumping straight into an academic discussion around a particular architect, building, or exhibition that has inspired you. You don't need to have personal connections to the work other than your academic interest, but make sure that you have researched the work or architect in question and have something analytical or interesting to say about it (rather than just stating facts about it). This could be a useful jumping off point for the rest of your personal statement.

However you open your statement, be direct and use uncomplicated language whilst making it as memorable and enticing as possible. The first impression is all important, and you want to encourage the reader to continue further into the statement.

Advice on How to Finish an Architecture Personal Statement  

As with an essay, the end of your statement should draw together what you’ve discussed up until that point. In statement terms, this should cover your suitability to undertake a degree in architecture and how enthused by the prospect of this you are. You’ve also hopefully relied on substantial examples to demonstrate your passion, so writing the statement’s conclusion shouldn’t be too difficult.

Remember not to repeat yourself; the idea is to emphasise what you’ve said already, rather than to say it again verbatim. These will be your departing words to the reader so, as with the introduction, you want to be remembered and leave a positive impression that leads to the next stage, be that an interview or an offer.


Architecture degrees are a blend of theory and practice, so it’s advisable that you express an interest in both aspects of the discipline. As with all else you mention, it’s important to use examples from your research to support your points, so don’t just assert your interest – prove it! You should also look at modules that are common to all the universities you’re applying to; this way you can narrow down what appeals to you and show that you’ve looked into the degrees themselves.

Think hard about why you’re interested in architecture as a subject in general and in studying it at university in particular. This isn’t easy, as likes and dislikes are always difficult to scrutinise. That said, admissions tutors will want to see a good level of consideration from you as they won’t want to admit anyone who has applied on a whim or because they couldn’t think of anything else to do.

The length of your architecture personal statement, like all personal statements, is limited by UCAS. They’ve set a restriction of 4000 characters (including spaces), or alternatively 47 lines of the UCAS form; the relevant limit is the one you reach first. For this reason, it’s imperative you plan the statement’s structure and content as you don’t want to waste valuable words.

You’re lucky in that architecture is a subject that we’re all involved with to some extent. Buildings and structures are part of our everyday lives, and we can’t escape them. When it comes to extra-curricular activities, you can draw on anything you deem to be a worthwhile engagement with the built environment, or aesthetic history, or material culture; this includes reading around the subject, of course. As long as you can relate the activity to your interest in architecture, and talk about the benefit derived from it, then it will be relevant.

While you shouldn’t tailor your personal statement to any one university if you’re applying to more than one, it is possible to gauge the specialisms of certain universities and to emphasise your attraction to those, provided this doesn’t by definition rule out any other university in your application. Oxford and Cambridge value academic independence and freedom of thought, so try to be original in your views and be able to support them with evidence from your wider reading and research.

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