Write an SoP

Are you wondering how to write your SoP for UK universities? Are you confused with the amount of overwhelming information on the internet about writing SoP for UK universities? Worry not. This article will give you a detailed understanding of what you should include in your SoP. I will also share my own experience of writing the SoP so that you can get ideas from that as well.

Before you get down to understanding how to start writing the SoP, you need to understand the major points that it must include. Given below is a list of questions that your SoP must address in order for it to stand out amongst the rest.

Point Explanation
Why do you want to pursue the course?Simply saying that you like the course will not help. You need to dig deeper and address questions like:
a) why do you want to pursue that specific course,
b) what are your future plans after the course,
c) what areas of that course are appealing to you and so on.
Why do you choose this university?Again, if you simply say that “I have always wanted to study in this university…” it won’t help. You will have to dig deeper and address questions like:
a) What makes that university special for you?
b) Do you like a specific aspect of the university? Some examples could be: the campus, or the library, or the social diversity etc.
c) What makes you special for that university?
d) Is the university going to benefit from having a student like you?
What are your long-term goals and how does the course help? The university needs to know that you have a long-term career goal in mind before applying for the course. If you do not have one in mind already, then you will have to conduct research into the career choices available to you and indicate them in your SoP.
If you simply state:
a) “I am still thinking about the course…” or
b) “I think I would want to…”
you might give the impression that you are not sure of what you want to do after the course.
What are your related achievements? This, again, needs to be detailed. Additionally, it should also signify how your past achievements help you stand apart from the rest and how they help you to bring a unique perspective to the table.

Length of an SoP?

Your statement should not be more than 2000 words, unless specified otherwise by your department. Ideally, the statements for UK universities and for less language-rich courses are not more than 1500 words.

My own SoP was about 3,000 words. But because I was applying to an English Literature course, the length was not a problem.

Now, let us get into the details of each of the questions that we had touched on above.

Why do you want to pursue this course?

Remember the questions that I shed a light on in the table above? Those are exactly the questions that you need to address in this section. Your university wants to know whether you actually like the course and want to pursue it for a specific advancement in your career, or simply “wish” to pursue the course because it “sounds fun”. Your university wants to know if you actually have a career path in mind after completing the course. Moreover, it also wants to know what aspects of the course are most appealing to you. Now, you cannot know any of these unless you have done your research about the course as well as the career options available to you after that.

However, that does not mean that you should not write about how much you “like” the course. All I am saying is that the universities are looking for much more than a mere “liking” for the course.

For instance, let’s say that you are extremely passionate about mathematics. And you wish to pursue a career in academics, say, as a lecturer and/or a researcher. Then, you will have to clearly mention that “…because I want to pursue a career in mathematics as an academics, I wish to pursue the course in ___.” You will then have to dive into the details of what branch of mathematics do you wish to build a career in, and how doing a related course for your BSc, or MSc will help.

Once you have that clarity of what you plan to do after the course, you can go on and say, “I have always been passionate about mathematics…” In fact, stating your love for the subject along with your future plans will add more value to your statement.

In this section, you can also talk about your previous academic profile, hobbies or passion, related academic achievements, related professional achievements etc. For instance, continuing with the same example, we can say that, “I have participated in several competitions/debates/Olympiads in my school/college and have always secured the top position because of my love for the subject”.

Remember that your statement is like your communicator. It helps you relay the information to the reader of your SoP in you physical absence.

What I Did

When I was writing my SoP for my Master’s in English Literature courses, I simply wrote about how passionate I was towards literature. I spoke about my love for writing and reading literature since my Bachelor’s and gave details about how I had started to read and create my own literature. I gave few examples of the madrigals and sonnets that I had written, and how much they had influenced me in a better understanding of literature itself. This helped me position myself as someone who was deeply attached to the subject.

What you should do

You might not have done exceptionally crazy things in the subject you love, however you still love it. When it comes to exhibiting that passion on paper, you can use different means. You necessarily do not have to just write how deeply you love the subject, but your SoP should present that you have a much deeper connection with it. For instance, let us take the example of mathematics as a subject.

You might not have come up with theorems in algebra, but you still love the subject. And there would have been times when that love for the subject would have helped you to look at things in a completely different light. Something that no other person who shares that love for mathematics can ever do.

Why do you want to choose this university?

This again is an extremely useful piece of information that the reader of your SoP is looking for. They want to know what makes you worthy addition to the university.

Now, let us look at this question in a different situation. Let’s say that you are applying for a job at a company. The biggest question that you will have to answer in the interview would be, “Why should we hire you? What’s so special about you?”

Those are the questions that you will have to address in this section. Simply saying that “I love this university…” or “I have always harboured a desire to study at your prestigious university…” will not help. You will have to dive deep into what are some of the things of the university that are most appealing to you? For instance, you can say that you are most attracted to the social diversity of the university. Or, perhaps you like the campus and you feel that you will enjoy your time studying at the university. You can even add that you like the university’s academic resources, like the library. Or, you can say that you like certain professors in your concerned department. The list can be endless.

And, in order to provide the information for this section, you need to research about the university itself. Read about it on their website, research about the university on Google, look up for reviews on YouTube and so on. Doing this type of research will help you understand more about the university itself.

Additionally, you also need to think about your perspective on your subject. In other words, “What do you bring to the table?” Here you must address questions like:

  • How do you look at that subject?
  • What motivates you towards it?
  • What are some of the areas that you find intriguing?
  • What are some of the areas that you want to explore further?

Remember it is your perspective that will set you apart from other students. Therefore, focus more on the kind of relationship that you have with your subject.

What I Did

In my case, I simply wrote about how literature for me is a way of life than a subject itself. And as a result, I find literature in everything, whether it is a signboard that simply gives directions, or it is a food menu or the way the people of a specific community talk amongst themselves, what they talk about and so on. I spoke in minute details about how I look at things from a literary critic’s perspective, enabling me thus to have a unique take on things. Something no other student of literature who does not think like this can offer. That way, I was able to present how such a varied perspective will add on to the diversity of the university.

What you should do

You should, again, focus on delivering how your perspective on the subject is unique and how much that unique perspective can add to the diversity of perspectives in the university. Additionally, you can also talk about what your achievements have been, whether academic or professional, and how they enable you with an added understanding of the subject.

Moreover, you can talk specifically about the city that the university is based in. You can simply say that that city is one where you have always wanted to live. Mention the names of libraries, or places that you want to visit during your city. If you are applying to a university in London, then you must also mention how the diversity in students will help you grow and how much you yourself will add to that diversity in the first place.

What are your long-term goals and how does doing that course help?

This is again an extremely crucial aspect of your SoP. What indeed are your long-term goals? What do you plan to do after the course itself? Does the course help you get closer to what it is that you are aiming for? How?

You need to address all these questions within your SoP. 3 years ago, when I was writing my SoP, I had to specifically mention that after doing my MA in English Literature, I desire to come back to India and take up teaching because of the visa restrictions back then.

However, now, the immigration rules are going to change from January 2021. And, the UK government has introduced the 2-year UK Post-Study Work Visa scheme (what is it?). Therefore, you can easily say that you desire to look for jobs in a specific sector of the industry. You can even mention some jobs that you have researched and say that “Having done my research, I am confident that I will be the best-fit for the role at ___ after completing my graduation from university.” It would be useful if you would mention specific roles, specific industries, and specific companies. It will just show that you have done your research.

Additionally, if you wish to pursue a career in academics, then you can even mention that “Having done my research on your university’s website, I desire to take up research in the field/sector/area that is managed by Professor______.”

What I did

I simply gave very direct points stating clearly that I wanted to come back to India and take up a teaching position role at a university. I also mentioned the names of some universities that I wanted to apply to and explained how a degree from the UK would help me in securing those roles.

What are your related achievements?

Think about all your academic and professional achievements so far. Make a list of them and try understand how they are connected to the course. Whether you have written an article, have a YouTube channel, a podcast, were part of a society in college, were the champion of something at school, or were rewarded graciously at your company, you must write about all of them.

This is because in order to back up your love and passion for the subject, you will need to show the things you have achieved in that field. This way your passion and achievements will complement each other and the university won’t feel that you are faking it.

What I Did

I was the head of the creative writing society of my college way back in 2016 and 2017 and was also heavily involved in the literary club of my college as well. Additionally, I was also deeply moved by different types of literature and had myself experimented with some forms and even created new ones! Moreover, I got campus placed at NIIT Limited because of my love for writing and literature. Therefore all of these achievements were enough to back up my claims of a profound passion for literature.

What you should do

Think about how your achievements relate to the course, and your long-term goals. For instance, for someone who loves automotive engineering can talk about any past projects that they had undertaken with/without supervision from their peers/professors. From there, they can talk about how that one project helped them gain an essential understanding of that field which they have always wanted to explore further.

What you should always remember is that your SoP should reflect how the course that you are doing is a stepping stone for your future. It should reflect that you have a clear goal in mind, and in order to get there you have arrived at the conclusion that you need to do this course. This way it will help your university to look at your decision as well thought out. Something that they will highly appreciate.

What is the structure of the SoP?

Should your statement be structured in the order that we have followed so far? No! The way you should structure your statement is entirely up to you, the course you wish to apply for, and the university you wish to apply to. However, I would be more than happy to provide a general structure that you can modify as per your needs. Find that structure of SoP here.