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One of the most significant decisions of your adult life will be choosing where to go to university and what to study. Most of us have many and varied interests, as well as strong feelings about where’s best not only to nurture our interests but also to live while we’re doing it, so settling on a choice can be tough.

That said, you’re undoubtedly reading this because you’ve thought about what you’d like to study and maybe even concluded it will be Fine Art. Congratulations!

Once you’ve worked out where you’d like to pursue this, the next step is applying, and your personal statement is one of the most important parts of this. It’s a challenge to write because it has to cover a lot of ground in a small space, but the trick is to approach it methodically and to tackle it systematically.

This guide will help you to achieve this by taking you through the following steps, so you end up with a compelling and informative personal statement:

Why are Personal Statements Important? 

The basis of any informed decision is information. This applies to degree choice, university choice, and career choice. You (hopefully) wouldn’t make any of these decisions without first having reviewed the facts and weighed up the pros and cons of your potential selection.

In a similar way, universities have to make a choice about which students to admit. They don’t want to grant places to people who are uninformed about what they’ve chosen to do, or who are likely to be unhappy and drop-out further down the line. The personal statement is there to help them with this.

A personal statement tells admissions tutors who you are, why you’re suitable, and gives them some inkling of the student you’ll become. This is why personal statements are important; they’re an unrivalled opportunity for you to say in your own words why you, out of everyone, deserve a place on the course, and to leave admissions tutors in no doubt of your readiness and drive to do well.


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What Should I Include in a Fine Art Personal Statement? 

Fine art is a fundamentally practical course underpinned by theory, so demonstrating not only what you have achieved and can achieve in terms of the execution of art, but also that you understand the importance of the history and theory of art, is vital. This blend of theory and practice is what makes a Fine Art degree so appealing to many, and universities will want to see that you appreciate this when applying.

Art for Art's Sake

The practice of art cannot be divorced either from its history or from its presence; it’s impossible for it not to be informed by its antecedents or current environment. For this reason, you shouldn’t be embarking on a Fine Art course if you have no appreciation for the history and theory of art, as all universities wish to see that you understand the manifold influences exerted on its production over time.

It’s therefore insufficient to be a good draughtsperson or painter; you should make sure you can talk as knowledgably about movements as you can about techniques. Remember to back up any discussions in the personal statement with any sources (be it specific books, artists, exhibitions, or historical periods) you have consulted so as to demonstrate your academic engagement and critical analysis skills.

Origins of Your Interest

It’s not really enough to say ‘I like art’ or ‘I like sculpture’ to demonstrate your interest and motivation for doing a Fine Art degree. It’s more meaningful to talk about your particular artistic passion, how it came about, and the ways in which you’ve given expression to it.

You might talk about competitions you’ve entered, viewings and exhibitions you’ve attended, or artists you’ve read about or spoken to. As long as you’re showing an active engagement with the subject and give a sense of where you’d like to take it if admitted to the degree course, you’ll establish a good basis for your interest.

Continuous Development

Fine Art departments like to see how you respond to critiques and feedback, and the ways in which these inform your art. As you’ll be working very closely, perhaps one-on-one, with a tutor, you need to be able to take on board suggestions and constructive comments, which may or may not lead you to revise how you go about executing your art. Quell any concerns they may have by demonstrating in your personal statement (with concrete examples) how you have responded to observations in a receptive way and how these have informed your practice.


What Should I Avoid in a Fine Art Personal Statement? 

Don’t begin your statement with a sweeping comment about art’s universality, or with a quotation from an artist or critic. This sort of opening adds nothing and, in fact, negatively impacts how you come across as a potential student. Equally detrimental are any clichés about you and art, overly informal language, and dramatic statements of any sort.

You should also avoid including irrelevancies, both curricular and extracurricular, and anything too personal – this isn’t an autobiography. Remember to stay close to the subject and to express your passion for Fine Art as simply and directly as you can.

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Advice on How to Start a Fine Art Personal Statement  

To make your statement as effective as possible, you should open it by setting out your interest in art and why you’d like to study Fine Art at university.

Clarity is key, so don’t over-complicate matters; it’s enough just to be honest and straightforward about your reasons. That said, originality and flair always make a statement more impactful, so consider how you can adopt a personal and unique angle that marks you out as different from all other applicants.

The first impression is a lasting impression, which means the reader is likely to draw some conclusions after reading the first paragraph. That means you should ensure your statement’s beginning achieves what it sets out to and that you’re happy with its portrayal of you.

Advice on How to Finish a Fine Art Personal Statement  

Finishing your Fine Art personal statement can, to some extent, reflect the finishing of your Fine Art degree. By the end of three years, you’re likely to have compiled a portfolio of pieces, have exhibited one or several at a final degree show, and have undertaken an extended piece of writing.

Your statement can mention how you’re looking forward to having amassed this critical work by the end of your time at university and talk about the skills you’ll have developed along the way. The statement’s conclusion should also unite your various lines of argument concerning interest, preparedness, and motivation, so the reader feels confident in choosing you as their next student.


As you’re applying to do a thoroughly practical course, albeit one underpinned by theory, it’s recommended you talk to some extent in your statement about work you’ve created, the skills that you’ve acquired through this, and their future application to your degree. It’s also a good idea to reflect on who and what your influences and inspirations are, as this will show your awareness of how your work is impacted by that of others. No one creates art in a vacuum, so don’t be afraid to share this.

Think about what makes your work unique and how it has evolved over time. You’re more than likely to have taken inspiration from different people and places at different times, so alluding to this evolution will show you to be analytical and reflective. It’s also a good idea to mention how you respond creatively in your own work to what you see and hear elsewhere, for example through museum and gallery visits.

Your personal statement will be limited, like everyone else’s, to 4000 characters (including spaces) or to 47 lines of the UCAS form, whichever you reach first. This might seem overly restrictive for such an important application, but remember that your application will comprise other elements too, and it’s good practice for later when you have to express your thoughts succinctly in essays.

There are some obvious extracurricular activities that all Fine Art applicants will include in their statements, such as visits to exhibitions, their own artistic endeavours, and wide reading around the subject. All of these are fine, and by all means put them in. However, if you can also add something a bit more unusual, for example you helped to date a painting through mass spectrometry, or assisted with the restoration of a medieval fresco, then that will help you to stand out in a unique way. Whatever you decide to include, ensure it has some direct relevance to the application as you can’t afford to waste words on content that won’t be valued by admissions tutors.

A strong academic record and incontestable interest in art go without saying, but you should also display a capacity for taking on large amounts of information and using it judiciously for your own ends, for working independently and in collaboration with others, and for extensive reflection on your own work.

Finally, being at ease with the theory as much as the practice of art is paramount as you’ll be expected to use the one to inform the other as you progress through the course.

Book your Fine Art 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 Fine Art, we have admissions test guidance and interview preparation readily available. 

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