Map Oxbridge Applications, 58 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AJ
Home Application Resources Chemical Engineering Personal Statement Guide

The importance of your university application cannot be overstated. What and where to study for at least the next three (or more!) years is likely to be the first big decision you’ll be making for yourself in life, so it’s important to get it right.

The process is a clear and structured one, but it demands considerable input from you. Perhaps the greatest personal contribution to your university application (aside from grades) comes in the form of the Personal Statement. This short piece of prose is multifunctional: it sets out to inform, intrigue, and persuade, which is no mean feat when you consider it’s limited to just 4000 characters.

Nevertheless, all applicants are in the same position and have to face writing it at some point; that’s where this guide comes in. It will take you through, one step at a time, how to draft a strong personal statement, and includes advice on:

Why are Personal Statements Important? 

The purpose of a personal statement is not to inform experts in chemical engineering about chemical engineering; it’s to inform them about something they know nothing about – you! If you’re applying to study a subject and are writing to someone whose job it is not only to know about that subject but also to admit you to a degree course in it, your intention should be to tell them why they should take you on.

That’s what a personal statement does. It’s a testimony to you as a student now and as a student in the future; it should make your interest in, and motivation to study, chemical engineering explicit to the reader, as well as telling them about the skills you have and how prepared you are to embark on the course.


Our Oxbridge Private Consultations provide in-depth evaluation, strategy and next steps to achieve results for your university application. Suitable for those aged 14 upwards.

What Should I Include in a Chemical Engineering Personal Statement? 

Chemical engineering is all about manipulating molecules to effect biological, chemical, and physical transformations. Your personal statement should therefore emphasise your technical and scientific competencies, while also acknowledging the applications of the subject in industry and the wider world. More than this, of course, you need to leave the reader in no doubt of why you want to study the subject at university, rather than anything else. That brings us on to:

Reasons and Enthusiasm

When you could have studied engineering, or chemistry, or any other standalone subject, it’s important to say why you decided to do chemical engineering instead. What is it about the combination of engineering and science that really interests you?

This is a good place to talk about your personal experiences of the subject, such as any work experience you’ve had or extended projects you’ve undertaken. Tutors will want to see that you’ve thought through your motivations and that they’re well-founded.

The backbone of your personal statement is independent research and experiences, alongside an explanation of what about the research you have done or experiences you have had has interested you sufficiently to pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering. Be sure to mention specific examples that have inspired you so that tutors know you're serious and have engaged in plenty of research before making your decision.

On a simpler level, this is also a good place to mention your enjoyment of related subjects at school, such as maths and science.


Whilst you are not expected to know everything about Chemical Engineering when you apply (indeed, what would be the point of the degree in that case!), you should demonstrate that you have the requisite base skills to succeed in keeping up with the course.

These skills could be directly related to Chemical Engineering, such as lab skills or technical abilities, but transferable or more general learning skills are also applicable. Think about how you have shown analytical abilities, critical thinking skills, and resilience in your learning journey so far. When outlining these skills, be sure to mention specific examples to both prove their validity, and to make it more interesting for tutors to read and connect with.


With so many real-world applications of chemical engineering, from the fashion and beauty industries to those of oil and environmental management, it’s a good idea to show an awareness of how chemical engineering fits into our lives.

This is also a good place to talk about the direction the subject is taking, for example in light of Net Zero policies and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals. Keeping up-to-date with the subject’s developments and real-world uses will demonstrate your continued engagement with it, which is important evidence of your broader understanding.

Looking to the Future

While it’s perfectly acceptable to study chemical engineering for its own sake, the practical applications of it to today’s society are endless. If you intend to pursue a related career, then it’s a good idea to talk about this. It will not only show the reader that you know the subject’s uses in the wider world, but mentioning these plans will also constitute strong evidence of your commitment and ambition. It’s OK not to have any concrete plans per se, but giving an idea of what you might like to do with the degree later is an encouraging sign.

What Should I Avoid in a Chemical Engineering Personal Statement? 

‘Ever since I was a child’, and other similar clichés, are to be avoided at all costs. Instead of indulging in empty expressions, your statement needs to convey a genuine and substantial interest in the subject. Whilst no one is going to believe you’ve held this interest since you were five years old, you could instead describe your first realisation of the subject’s importance at school or college, for example.

You should avoid setting an informal tone since this is an official statement, and also avoid mentioning what may be deemed irrelevant, such as hobbies and interests outside the scope of chemical engineering or related subjects.

Register to access our complimentary e-book "So You Want To Go To Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana…"

Advice on How to Start a Chemical Engineering Personal Statement  

There’s no secret to beginning a personal statement, other than launching straight into why you’re interested in the subject and why you wish to study it. Remember that tutors have to read a lot of these, so try to give it a gripping (but not dramatic!) opening, and to come across as sincere and conscientious.

You want to mark yourself out as different from others by emphasising your unique qualities, as long as what you say doesn’t detract from the depiction you’re offering of your intellectual substance and diligence.

Use simple but appealing language, be direct and precise, and try to establish a positive impression from the outset.

If you're struggling to write the introduction first, why not begin by drafting some of the personal statement's main body first, then return to write the opening statement. It can be beneficial to get into the flow by writing about concrete things you have researched, before returning to the slightly looser introductory sentence.

Advice on How to Finish a Chemical Engineering Personal Statement  

The conclusion of the personal statement shouldn’t be there to cover everything you didn’t say earlier; its purpose is to bring together your most important points about motivation, interest, and suitability for undertaking the degree.

Make sure you don’t repeat yourself, but remind the reader why you’re applying and of your potential as a student. Remember that this is the final impression a tutor will have before making you an offer of an interview or place, so it bears repeating that you should come across as likeable, astute and engaged, without seeming arrogant or that you know all there is to know before even starting the course.

Talking about commitment, what you’re looking forward to, and future plans are all good ways to finish a statement, but don’t waffle – keep to the point and communicate effectively.


As chemical engineering sits between sciences and engineering, it’s a good idea to show you know this and understand what it’s all about. As you’re hopefully already aware, chemical engineering focuses on industrial processes and chemical and physical transformations at different scales. You can go about showing your knowledge of this in different ways, but a good place to start might be to talk about your interest in the subject’s applications and industrial angles. When doing this, it’s also important to explain why you’re choosing chemical engineering and not a related subject.

The majority of chemical engineering degree courses will have overlaps with each other, so have a look at the courses’ content on universities’ websites and think about what you most like the sound of. This can be fed into the part of your statement that looks to the future, and it will prove you’re fully aware of what the course will involve.

The personal statement is limited to 47 lines of the UCAS form, or 4000 characters (including spaces). This means that you need to be selective about what you put in. It helps some candidates to write a list of everything they’d ideally like to include and then work on narrowing that down according to how much space they have available in the statement. Whatever you do, don’t force information into the statement just for the sake of making sure it’s included somewhere, as this will negatively impact the coherence and cohesion of the statement overall.

Typical extracurricular activities included in the personal statements of chemical engineering students range from tutoring younger pupils in maths and sciences to work placements and shadowing industry professionals. Don’t worry, though, if you don’t do any of those things. The most important point is that everything you include can easily be related back to chemical engineering and your desire to study it. This means that reading widely around the subject, or doing an activity like working in a chemist, are sufficient to demonstrate commitment to, and knowledge of, the subject beyond the classroom.

If you’re applying to more than one university, remember not to mention anything unique to Oxbridge, but you can always angle your statement towards their specialisms to a certain extent.

The Oxford and Cambridge courses are wide-ranging in their content and the skills they demand. Their admissions tutors want to see that you have a strong but flexible intellect, are curious and driven, and that you can manage challenges and competing commitments well. You should therefore try to relate what you say in the statement to skills such as these, as well as stating implicitly or explicitly how you would be able to develop the new skills that the degree would teach you, and that you look forward to doing so.

Book your Chemical Engineering Personal Statement Package

You can contact our Oxbridge-graduate Consultants on +44 (0) 20 7499 2394 or email [email protected] to discuss our personal statement packages. 

If you’d like to know more about Chemical Engineering, we have admissions test guidance and interview preparation readily available. 

Oxbridge Applications Logo

Our Oxbridge-graduate consultants are available between 9.00 am – 5.00 pm from Monday to Friday, with additional evening availability when requested.

Oxbridge Applications, 58 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AJ

Added to cart

View Cart