How to Write an Economics Personal Statement

If you’re applying to study an Economics course in the UK, then you’ll know the subject is notoriously competitive. One area that is particularly important in your Economics application and can help you stand out is your UCAS personal statement.

Your personal statement is a crucial part of your application because it is the first and often the only chance you get to tell your chosen universities why you want to study an Economics degree, what your motivations are, and give context to any qualifications, skills and experience you have.

Your Economics personal statement should be solely written by you and can follow any format you desire. However, based on the experience of our professional admissions tutors, who help more than 95% of students get into their first and second-choice universities, there are some guidelines you should follow. This article goes through the key stages of writing an Economics personal statement, including some top tips from The Profs’ Head of Admissions, Joseph Robbins, and information on how to access further support.

Content:

What is the goal of your personal statement?

Your personal statement is essentially your sales pitch to your chosen universities. The goal is to tell them why you would be a great Economics student and how you’d benefit from taking your chosen course. It’s also your opportunity to not only tell them, but prove to them with examples and evidence that you would make a capable, passionate and committed Economics student.

Keep the overarching goal of your personal statement in mind as you write it and make sure that everything you say is supported by an action or example. Use the Point Evidence Explain (PEE) format throughout your personal statement. 

Joe’s tip: While it’s important to showcase your personality and interests, make sure that every sentence has a purpose and relates back to that overarching goal. The bulk of your personal statement should be demonstrating how and why your experiences and skills would make you well-suited to a degree in Economics, not just a list of what you have done. Don’t waste valuable characters talking about hobbies or passions that are unrelated to your chosen career path – always keep it relevant.

Here at The Profs, we have experienced personal statement tutors who can guide you through crafting the perfect personal statement. Don’t waste time worrying or risk your future, just reach out.

How long should your personal statement be?

Your personal statement must be between 1,000 and 4,000 characters long. It is best to use as many of the 4,000 characters (approximately 47 lines) as possible in order to showcase all of your best qualities and experience.

Joe’s tip: Your personal statement is part of your UCAS application as a whole, so the deadline for completing it is essentially the same as whichever UCAS deadline your application is due by (either mid-October for Oxbridge applications or end of January for other universities). However, schools often impose their own personal statement deadlines that are a lot earlier. They do this so that your teachers (and sometimes your head of sixth-form) have the time to read it over and ensure it’s up to scratch! If you feel like you are going to submit a poor-quality personal statement to meet this early deadline, speak to your school. It is almost always worth adding an additional week or redrafting if you feel that your statement is not reflective of your potential.

Note that all students applying to university for 2023, 2024 or 2025 will still be required to submit a UCAS personal statement as normal. However, from January 2025 onwards (October 2024, for Oxbridge applicants), there will be changes to the UCAS application process and students will no longer be required to write a personal statement. Instead, all applicants will answer a series of shorter, more tailored questions provided by UCAS.

A step-by-step guide to writing your personal statement

Step 1. What are your motivations for studying Economics?

Once you’ve got the goal of your personal statement at the forefront of your mind, start thinking about why you want to study an Economics degree. Writing down exactly why you want to study Economics isn’t always easy. You might have simply always been most interested in data-based and mathematical subjects, or there might have been a greater motivation behind choosing it, such as a long-term career plan or a desire to understand the way the world works. Either way it’s important not to skip this step and really spend time pinpointing the ‘why’. 

Your motivations for studying Economics should be included in the opening sentence or first paragraph of your personal statement. They should also form the basis of much of the rest of your statement, as you should always be tying in your motivations to your existing skills, experience and interests (remember to use PEE!).

If you establish your motivations early on in the writing process, this can also help you to develop your personal statement (i.e. what work experience (step 3) and additional reading (step 5) you should be doing). If you’ve already started using your initiative and planning your academic and personal life around the subject you’re passionate about, this demonstrates to universities that you are mature, driven and likely to succeed at university-level study. 

Try to steer away from cliche introductions and catchphrases that may exaggerate or misrepresent your true motivations. Even if you did have a dramatic, life-defining moment in which you realised you wanted to study Economics at university, it can come across as insincere if you write it in your personal statement. 

For instance, if you find yourself writing, “I’ve wanted to study Economics ever since I was a young child…” or “For as long as I can remember…” then take a moment to reconsider this. You don’t want to sound just like your peers. Really think about how you can make your personal statement represent you and stand out from other applicants. 

Identifying a course for undergraduate study is not a trivial task. Decisions of this magnitude need a top-down approach. What is the end goal of your studies? Admissions teams look for  this information in your personal statement and so it’s imperative that you do your research and identify a career path that appeals to you and matches your qualities. 

Joe’s tip: Don’t forget to mention a career plan. Be specific about what motivates you professionally and use LinkedIn for career research. Talking about why you need this degree to pursue your career and how it will help you to land a specific job is always beneficial to any university application. However, this is especially the case for Economics which is more career-driven than traditional academic courses. Do your research and get as specific as you can. What institution or company do you want to work for, and what do you want to specialise in? 

Showing a university that you already have a good idea of what job title you will apply for after graduation can really help you stand out from the crowd. For example: “After much career research, I have identified my dream role: an economics consultant (specialising in energy markets) at a boutique firm such as Frontier Economics.”

Demonstrating this career research – as well as an idea of your specialism – and name-dropping a specific firm all show that you are a serious and diligent candidate. Of course, you don’t have to stick to this career path, but showing that you have thought about your career is a huge plus. 

Need any help? Ensure that you put your best foot forwards by reaching out to our experienced university admissions team. We can review your application and help you to improve it and maximise your chances of success. 

Step 2. What appeals to you specifically about the course you’re applying to?

Your Economics personal statement should be clearly targeted to the subject. It’s not enough to write a generic statement about why you are a great student; you need to explain why you would make a great Economics student in particular. 

It’s important that you do plenty of research into the specifics of your chosen courses, including the modules you might cover. Then, think about how certain topics covered in these modules align with your motivations and long-term goals, and tie all of them together to create a strong, convincing narrative throughout.

Researching your course will not only make your statement more relevant but it will also aid you in making your decision whether or not to apply. Before you write your application you need to know why you chose this course from the many Economics courses out there! 

It will help you to stand out if you study the first few modules of your chosen Economics course at your top-choice university. If you can refer to these concepts, and better yet, analyse them to demonstrate your comprehension, you will highlight that you are genuinely keen to expand your knowledge and already able to study at university level. At the end of the day, universities want students who are sincerely passionate about their discipline and will be “easy” students throughout their three or four years of study. So, any way to show that you’re keen and driven is encouraged.

Did you know that Economics courses can fall under either BA or BSc depending on where you apply? BA courses include the Economics courses taught at Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham, and BSc courses including the Economics courses taught at St Andrews, LSE and Brighton, with many other universities offering both BA and BSc Economics courses, including universities like the University of Warwick and King’s College London. All of the universities mentioned above score in the top 10 universities for Economics according to the Guardian (2024). Generally speaking, BA courses are less mathematical and approach economics as more of a social science whilst BSc courses are more quantitative. That being said, BA courses typically require some mathematical competency. For instance, Durham university offers an Economics BA but its typical entry requirements are A*AA A levels, including Mathematics. 

Joe’s tip: In the UK, you are only allowed to submit one personal statement that then gets sent to all of your university choices (up to five). The problem with this is that each of the courses at these universities will more than likely be slightly different, both by name (e.g. Economics and Management at Oxford versus Economics, Finance and Data Science at Imperial) and by their contents. 

Consequently, unless specifically advised to do so, it’s best not to cite specific course names or modules. Instead, target common themes of these subjects to show you are well-researched while appealing to all of your university choices.

If you are targeting a course which is only available at one or a handful of universities (such as Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at Oxford) then see what the universities themselves advise. They may understand that your personal statement will be directed towards a broader course focus and take this into consideration when considering your application. For help on applying to particularly competitive Economics courses such as PPE, get in touch with our admissions team who can guide you through the process and triple your chances of success.

You should also research your course in the context of your university. What entices you to study Economics at this institution? What stands out about their Economics department? Perhaps you are curious about the research being pursued, the facilities available, or the opportunities that the university’s city and/or student societies offer. As already mentioned, you cannot address specific universities individually when it comes to your UCAS personal statement. However, you can certainly allude to your first and second choice’s specific characteristics and demonstrate alignment. 

Unsure about anything? Chat to our expert Economics tutors who can help you improve your grades and/or craft the perfect university application. 

Step 3. What work experience do you have and what did you learn?

Work experience and volunteering are an important part of your personal statement. It’s difficult to get real-life knowledge and experience of how the wider professional world works and the skills you may require in any other way. In addition, Economics is a competitive subject area and work experience can be a great way to help you stand out from other applicants.

Unlike subjects such as Medicine, which look for specific types of work experience, Economics is a social science that can lead to a broader range of careers, so admissions departments won’t necessarily be looking for any particular form of work experience. However, there are some experiences that may be more helpful than others.

Start by thinking about the types of skills that would be useful in an Economics degree, such as mathematical ability, problem-solving skills, and an understanding of global and local systems. Then, think about where you could develop these skills through work experience or volunteering. For example, work experience at an accounting firm might allow you to apply your mathematical skills to real-world situations, while working with your local charity might give you an insight into how the charity sector operates and an understanding of the wider systems at play.

Getting work experience is quite the feat, especially as a young student. The big 4 finance firms (KPMG, EY, PWC, and Deloitte) typically offer well-established work experience programmes aimed at year 12 and 13 students but, as expected, these are highly competitive. You might be interested in large FMCG organisations, large pharmaceutical companies, and governmental agencies (e.g. the FCA). Ultimately, the best place to get further advice on obtaining work experience is your school but reputable websites such as RateMyPlacement are a good place to do some initial research!

Joe’s tip: Whatever work experience or volunteering you have, make sure that you don’t simply list it in your personal statement. Your chosen university will be looking for you to explain what you learned from your experience, what skills you developed, and how it shaped your interest in Economics.

You should also use your experiences as evidence to support the overarching narrative of your statement. For instance, if your motivation to study Economics is to enact policy change on a particular issue, then your work experience might be a placement with your local council or a charity that works on that issue, and this together supports your long-term goal of working for the UK government. Don’t forget, we’re here to help if you need any support.

Step 4. What relevant skills do you have?

Next, think about what skills you have that would make you a great fit for an Economics degree. It is particularly important for Economics applicants to have a good balance of skills from a range of subject areas. For example, it is not good enough to simply be very good at Mathematics; you’ll also need to show that you keep up to date with current affairs and are capable of writing a compelling essay. 

Some skills admissions officers will be looking for in particular include:

  • Data analysis skills
  • Interpersonal skills and social awareness
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Strong mathematical ability
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Understanding of global and local systems
  • Essay-writing skills

Make sure that you not only highlight what skills you have in your personal statement, but also explain how you have developed them. For instance, has there been a particular work experience placement in which you had to use great communication skills in order to solve a problem? Perhaps you have entered an essay-writing competition and been recognised for your ability that way. All elements of your personal statement should now start becoming woven together to support your overarching goal.

Joe’s tip: Economics students are usually curious about the world around them. They’re inquisitive, have lots of questions that they want to know the answers to, and are capable thinkers. That’s why Oxford uses the TSA (Thinking Skills Assessment) as the admissions test for its Economics courses. 

If you’re applying to Oxford, it is essential that you prepare for the TSA and aim for the highest possible score to prove the abilities you mention in your personal statement. Read our guide on preparing for the TSA for more tips. Even if your top-choice university does not require you to take the TSA you might want to take it anyway to maximise your chances of getting an offer – if you are choosing a top-tier, competitive university.

Excellent mathematical ability is a requirement for Economics courses and some Universities, such as the University of Bath, recommend you study GCE Advanced Mathematics AND further Mathematics or complete an additional Mathematics test such as STEP, MAT or TMUA. Please check the entry requirements for your chosen course on your university website. Here at the Profs, we can help you gain confidence and flourish in your mathematical ability ahead of your exams. Get in touch with us to arrange tailor-made tuition for you.

Need any guidance? We have top-tier tutors in TSA, STEP, MAT, TMUA, Maths, Further Maths and Economics on hand to help. 

Step 5. What wider reading and studying have you done?

Economics departments value students who have completed wider reading and have an understanding of the world beyond the school curriculum. In addition, most schools do not offer Economics as an A level, so it’s important that you develop your knowledge and give evidence of your interest in the subject outside of school. 

There are several ways you can do this. Firstly, you can read a range of Economics books. There are many popular books that can give you a solid understanding of economic theory and popular thought upon which to build at university-level. Some books you might have heard of include: ‘Freakonomics’, ‘the Undercover Economist’, ‘the Armchair Economist’, and ‘the Bottom Billion’. While these are certainly useful to read and are a good starting point, they will be common among applicants’ personal statements and, unless you go into great detail and show a critical approach, they are less likely to make you stand out. 

Consider reading books that are a little less common but still offer insightful perspectives and incorporate economic theory, such as:

  • Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo. 2019. Good Economics for Hard Times-2019 Nobel Prize for Economics winners. 
  • Richard Thaler. 2009. Nudge-2017 Nobel Prize for Economics winner writes about how people make decisions and how economists can incentivise people to make better ones.
  • George A. Akerlof and Robert Shiller. 2014. Mastering Metrics-Co-authored by Nobel prize laureate Robert Schiller, this book takes you through the basics of econometric methods.
  • George A. Akerlof and Robert Shiller. 2010. Animal Spirits– Explores the link between Psychology and Economics.
  • Paul Newbold, William Carlson, and Betty Thorne. 2012.Statistics for Business and Economics 
  • Knut Sydsæter, Peter Hammond, Arne Strøm and Andrés Carvajal. 2021. Essential Mathematics for Economic Analysis. 6th Edition 

Your priority should be to go beyond your school syllabus and read at university level, whilst also finding very specific, niche, and obscure texts that your peers will not choose. Ideally, we suggest reading multiple books over the course of the year leading up to writing your personal statement (throughout your A levels or equivalent). Then, once you’ve developed your wider subject knowledge, pick one or two key texts to go into greater detail about in your statement. If you’re short on time, focus on two to three books that particularly interest you and aim to read and reference only those. You can always watch YouTube videos on the books or listen to them as audiobooks if you’re running out of time, too.

Joe’s tip: Ensure that you are identifying how the book or chapter you are referencing fuelled your interest in Economics, or what questions it raised in your mind that a degree in Economics would help to answer. Picking out one or two specific issues and/or concepts that had an impact on you and elaborating on those is the best way to avoid listing and ensure you’re offering a critical perspective. For example, you could include relevant subject terms you have learnt, poignant quotes, or insightful analysis or a particular passage. Doing this will ensure that you don’t have to explicitly point out that you are good at the subject or that you really want to study it because it will be clear from your writing. 

Staying up to date and learning about Economics doesn’t just have to be via books. Consuming a range of documentaries, podcasts and other media can enhance your learning and help you to expand your interests and knowledge. Documentaries such as Inside Job, which takes a look at the 2008 financial crisis, and The True Cost, which delves into the darker side of the global economy, are great starting points. For those who use spotify, The Economist podcast offers great insight.

If you’re at all unsure about what materials to follow and refer to, or how to evaluate them in your personal statement, let us know and we can walk you through the process.

Joe’s tip: Whatever you do, do not lie in your personal statement, this includes your extra reading and studying. You could be asked questions on anything you write in your personal statement in your interview, and nothing will put off a university more than getting caught in a lie.

Instead, if you’re running out of time, keep things simple. Make a list of the key texts you want to know more about or the documentaries you’d like to watch, then work your way through. It’s better to include a small amount of good-quality information than it is to include a lot of irrelevant or untrue information. 

The bottom line is that showing an interest in Economics requires time and effort alongside your studies. Starting to implement extra reading alongside your studies should be done at an early stage. When you start university you are expected to do extra reading, so this is a good skill to start developing now!

Step 6. Do you take part in any relevant extracurricular activities?

Once you’ve demonstrated your motivations for studying your chosen course and the relevant skills and work experience you have, you can include a line or two about any other extracurricular activities you feel are relevant. For example, if you attend any after-school clubs, such as a Maths club or a Public Speaking club, or have any hobbies that you have excelled in, this is the time to include them.

Anything that further proves your aptitude for Maths and/or Economics is great to mention e.g. tutoring younger students in Maths, completing the UK Maths Challenge or running an entrepreneurial project. Similarly, you should highlight any activities that taught you relevant transferable skills.

However, be aware that you only have so many words in your personal statement, so everything you include should be impactful and support your point that you’d be an excellent Economics student. Your constant topic should be Economics. When it comes to extracurricular activities and hobbies, unless you have competed at national level or won an award, really consider if it would be beneficial to include it in your personal statement. Only include it if you have characters to spare!

Our expert university admissions team can offer advice on gaining the right extracurricular experience as well as how to apply it in your personal statement. 

Step 7. Think ahead to any potential interviews

Some competitive universities (such as Oxford and Cambridge) routinely interview candidates as part of the application process. Your UCAS personal statement will be an important deciding factor in whether you get offered an interview with your chosen university. However, if you’re invited to attend a panel interview, your statement may also be used as the basis for questions to ask you and topics to discuss.

If you know there is a chance that you will be asked to attend an interview, make sure to consider this when writing your personal statement. Look at each sentence you have written in your statement and think about what questions you could be asked about at your interview. If you are able to expand on the sentence or talk more about the topic then keep the sentence in; if you’re unable to go into any more depth, consider removing it or reframing it in a way that will make it easier for you in the interview. 

Throughout your personal statement, you should also show that you are up to date with current affairs to ensure you are able to have topical discussions in your interview. Ensure you follow the news and read relevant news stories from rigorous and reliable sources such as The Economist, The Financial Times, and The Guardian. You could be asked about how Brexit or COVID-19 has affected the economy. Or you might be asked for your opinion on the cost of living crisis, or future society being cashless. So, be prepared and also ensure that you have a few topics on hand that you can volunteer yourself. If you have formed an opinion on any articles you’ve read, you could also make a note and include these in your personal statement as evidence of your own independent thinking.

You can look up previous interview questions from the university online, this will tell you to expect some abstract questions but be aware it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be asked that exact question. Your best bet for interview preparation is to make sure you have done the extra reading, stayed up to date with current affairs, and know your personal statement!

Be sure to check out our previous article on preparing for an online interview, our founder’s article on the Kira Talent Prep Interview, and our video on how to smash a university interview. 

You don’t want to fall at the last hurdle. Your interview performance is crucial! Reach out to our experienced interview coaches for expert guidance.

Step 8. Summarise why you are well-suited to the course

The final paragraph of your Economics personal statement should summarise everything you’ve described throughout. You should conclude by stating why you think you’d be well-suited to an Economics course and why you would make a great addition to the university’s student body. You do not need to include any new examples or information here. Rather, you should summarise the key points you’ve already made and tie them back to the overarching goal and the motivations you established at the start of your statement.

Benefit from 1-to-1 support

Your personal statement is an important part of your Economics application, so it’s a good idea to get professional help to make it as compelling as possible. Our personal statement tutors can help you by:

Identifying where you need support in a free discovery call:

Our experts offer a free discovery call to understand your goals and needs. From this, our experienced tutors will formulate a plan of action, including helping you build your personal statement from scratch (or supporting you if you’ve already started!) and working with you on a regular, one-to-one basis.

Putting together a plan:

You should plan every stage of your university application – including your personal statement. Which universities and courses you’re applying to, what experience you have, and other contextual factors will all impact how and what you should write in your personal statement. Your statement also impacts other areas of your application which you’ll need to plan for, including admissions tests and interviews, all of which our admissions tutors can help you prepare and plan for.

Helping you develop your skills and academic profile:

A great personal statement relies on great skills and experience. Our tutors can advise you on what you can do to help build your academic profile for an Economics degree and ensure that your personal statement stands out for all the right reasons.

Giving a statement of review on your personal statement:

Once you’re in touch with one of our personal statement tutors, you can submit a draft for review. Based on many years of experience helping students refine their personal statements and get into top universities for Economics, our experts will provide detailed feedback with action points advising you on how to improve it. Nobody, not even a tutor, is allowed to make direct changes to your personal statement, and it is ultimately up to you what you write and whether you make changes based on any feedback you receive.

Proofreading for grammar:

Though it might seem obvious, proofreading for grammar before you submit your personal statement is critical to your application’s success. Grammatical mistakes – even small ones – could detract from the contents of your statement and prevent assessors from focusing on all of the fantastic skills and work experience you have. Use a document that has a spelling and grammar checker incorporated in it to avoid mistakes, and always ask a tutor, friend or family member to proofread it before submitting.

Wider application support:

Our team can also help you with your wider university application, including improving your grades, preparing for any admissions tests, and providing interview training. Get in touch with us to start your admissions tutoring today.

Also, don’t forget that we have top-tier tutors in university admissions, TSA, STEP, MAT, TMUA, Maths, Further Maths and Economics on hand to help. No matter what you need help with, we’ve got you. Our experience in offering excellent and bespoke services is precisely why we’ve got a 95% success rate in getting students offers from their first and second-choice universities! Come join the winning team.

Good luck!

Your personal statement is your way of introducing yourself to your chosen university. You will have limited characters so it needs to be concise whilst also conveying your positive attributes. This makes personal statement writing a momentous task for many applicants. 

However, with the right amount of skill, effort and time dedicated to your personal statement, you can win over admissions teams and get your offer! 

Our expert help is always available. Our advice is to choose your course carefully, start early, and accept the help that is offered to you. Should you seek further assistance with writing your Economics personal statement, The Profs offers dedicated professional tutors. We are experts in university admissions and personal statement writing. Just get in touch!

FAQs

What should I include in my personal statement as a mature student?

The term ‘mature student’ usually refers to someone who is going to university after spending a period of time out of full-time education. Most mature students will have previous educational experience and qualifications, so if this is the case, you can talk about what you learnt, which areas you excelled in, and why you have chosen to return to education. 

If you have any large or unexplained gaps in your education or professional history, make sure you also address these in your personal statement. Your university will be keen to know that your chosen degree is not just a back-up, but that you are serious and committed, and that it is part of your academic or career plan.

How long should my personal statement be?

Your personal statement must be between 1,000 and 4,000 characters long. It is best to use as many of the 4,000 characters (approximately 47 lines) as possible in order to showcase all of your best qualities and experience.

Will I need to do an additional Mathematics test to support my application?

You must thoroughly check the entry requirements for your chosen course before you apply. Additional maths tests involve STEP, MAT and TMUA. Anyone can take these tests so long as they have access and permission from a registered test centre, more information can be found in our article about Cambridge Admissions Tests. All Economics undergraduate courses require you to demonstrate a good level of mathematical ability and while the university might not explicitly stipulate it as a requirement, taking Mathematics at an Advanced level (A-level, IB, SQA Highers etc) is most definitely desired. 

In cases where you have not studied mathematics in your higher education, but you are confident in your mathematical ability you may wish to take an additional test (MAT, STEP or TMUA) to showcase this. Other instances where an additional test could be useful are if you are a mature student who has taken a break from the education system, or you have a unique educational background (for instance did not take GCSE maths or an equivalent well-recognised qualification).

Do I need to study Further maths?

In short, no. However, showcasing a high level of mathematical ability is a requirement for most economics courses. Further Maths is not an essential requirement for an Economics undergraduate degree but it can be seen as desirable.

Is work experience essential to my application?

Work experience is a great way to develop skills relevant to your application described in Step 4 above. Many work placements directly relating to economics, finance and accounting will be competitive but it’s definitely worth trying. Soft skills such as problem-solving and interpersonal skills can be linked to many examples of real-world experience. If you cannot attain work experience directly relating to economics, try broadening your search and/or engaging in a relevant extra-curricular activity such as writing articles for your school or joining a maths club.