Top Tips for a Cambridge Philosophy Personal Statement

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Cambridge Philosophy Personal Statement – Top 10 Tips: Dos and Don’ts  

The Cambridge Personal Statement is a crucial component of your university application. It presents a unique opportunity for you to differentiate yourself from other applicants. You would be able to articulate your story and explain your interests beyond that of numbers on an admissions test. Furthermore, it gives the interviewer a chance to understand who you are, providing a platform to bounce off questions during your interview. 

They can tailor questions to your personality, interests, and commitment to who you are as a person and your amalgamation of experiences before you. To guide you through the arduous university application process, our Oxbridge application experts have compiled a list of top 10 Cambridge Philosophy Personal Statement tips– do’s and don’ts– for your Cambridge Philosophy Personal Statement for the 2024/25 application cycle. 

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General Philosophy Personal Statement Advice

Philosophy is a course that would be exciting for students who enjoy arguments on the benefits and disadvantages of a wide-reaching range of issues. Ideal candidates would be students who enjoy rigorous thought and are interested in the basis of knowledge, the foundation of value and political theory, as well as the nature of cognition, consciousness, and reason. 

In your philosophy personal statement, Cambridge tutors are looking for you to clearly demonstrate your interest in academic rigour and thought, as well as the fields outlined above. Furthermore, when planning out your personal statement, make sure you research Cambridge’s achievements in Philosophy and include it in your writing to illustrate your interest in Philosophy. 

Additionally, When creating your Cambridge personal statement, understandably you’ll be applying to four other University courses which may result in your statement being vaguer. The University of Cambridge is aware of such. It will require you to fill out an ‘Online Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ)’ shortly after submitting the UCAS application, so make sure you’ve created another condensed version of your Philosophy personal statement that you can submit to Cambridge.

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    Top 5 Tips for Cambridge Philosophy Personal Statement

    1. Demonstrate why you are a good match for philosophy

    The traits that would make up a good philosophy student would be vastly different from the desirable traits of students from other courses. For example, some unique traits that they would be looking out for students who are capable of critical thinking, and those who enjoy rigorous analysis. Being open-minded is also crucial and in your philosophy personal statement, Cambridge is looking out for students who are able to consider new perspectives.

    Try and demonstrate how you display these traits in your Cambridge Philosophy personal statement. You can do so by explaining a specific experience that you had in the past and reflecting on how it has equipped with these desirable qualities.

    2. Be well-read in philosophy or related fields

    Philosophy is a subject that heavily focuses on human thought and the basis of knowledge. Hence, an ideal philosophy student would be well-read, both because they have a natural thirst for knowledge, and also because being well-informed or deeply versed would equip you with unique perspectives when pursuing your degree.

    Also, remember when writing your philosophy personal statement, Cambridge is definitely looking out for students who are well-read, and this is evident even on their page outlining the course. You definitely don’t need to be an expert (after all, you are going to university to study philosophy), but you should definitely do some preliminary reading. You can access their recommended reading list through their webpage: Cambridge Philosophy.

    Beyond that of reading, podcasts, documentaries, or even short news articles are a great way to kickstart your journey in being more deeply versed in literature and a wide range of perspectives. You can incorporate these various forms of mediums into your everyday lifestyle, such as watching a documentary instead of your usual TV series or listening to a podcast instead of your usual playlist on your way home from school.

    3. Hone your ability to think outside the box

    Once you’re happy with the content of your draft, check it, check it and check it again! Any mistakes in your Philosophy personal statement could count against your application. Spelling and grammar checking software will do most of the work but don’t rely on it completely, as it doesn’t pick up everything. These kinds of mistakes are really common, so don’t assume you won’t make them.

    4. Structure your Philosophy personal statement well to enhance readability

    Especially when you are trying to convey a huge range of ideas in your Cambridge personal statement, or to explain your story and why you are a good fit for philosophy at Cambridge, it can be difficult to communicate it in the way you intended. Hence, sticking to a good structure would help you convey your thoughts better.

    For example, in your personal statement, you should explore your philosophy interests. Do you have a topic that deeply intrigues you and is the beginning of your exposure to this field? You can then spend later paragraphs explaining how you explored this interest, through concrete experiences and actions, such as that of reading or participating in conferences and competitions. You can then conclude by summarising your points and ending them with an impactful statement.

    5. Starting early and getting people around you or seniors to proofread your Cambridge Philosophy personal statement

    Especially when we are explaining our personal story or beliefs, we might not be the best judge of our own work as we might not be objective about it. Hence, it would be good to get seniors you know who are currently pursuing philosophy at Cambridge to proofread your work and provide feedback. Even if you do not know of such seniors, getting friends or family to proofread your work can also provide valuable feedback on readability! Don’t share your Philosophy personal statement in case it gets plagiarised by someone else.

    Furthermore, starting early would be extremely helpful and you would be thankful when completing your applications. If you are finding yourself to be in a slump or having writer’s block, start by listing out all your experiences and interests, then create a separate list of good qualities of philosophy students, and finally a list of what the philosophy course at Cambridge is about. You can match your experiences and interests to the qualities and details of the course, and slowly flesh out paragraphs to start. Once you complete your draft, it would also be good to leave and come back to it a week later with a fresh mind.

    Top 5 things to AVOID for your Cambridge Philosophy Personal Statement

    1. Sacrificing readability over conciseness

    It can be tempting, predominantly for a course such as Philosophy, to fill and embellish your Cambridge Philosophy personal statement with difficult vocabulary or unconventional words. However, if you are not used to such language, do not feel pressured to decorate your Cambridge personal statement with a fancy vocabulary. This is because when reading your personal statement, philosophy tutors may find it difficult to understand what you’re really trying to say. Imagine this– tutors would get through hundreds of applicants per day. Similarly to getting through articles or academic journals full of jargon you are unfamiliar with, it would be tough for tutors to focus on what you are trying to communicate if you use too difficult vocabulary.

    The first and foremost aim of your Cambridge Philosophy personal statement is for the reader to understand what you are trying to convey, and sometimes fancy vocabulary gets in the way of that. Prioritise conciseness and readability, and sometimes simple language, especially when you are trying to describe complex topics, is best for that!

    2. Be afraid to admit that you don’t know something

    You are going to university to learn and to study for the degree after all. Although it is a plus point for you to be well-read and thoughtful, Cambridge tutors definitely don’t expect 18 or 19 years old to know everything there is to know. In fact, admitting that you don’t know something, but still being able to apply first principles and logic to a foreign topic, could be advantageous to you. Tutors consider it impressive when they encounter a student who recognises the complexity and difficulty of philosophical issues.

    3. Think that there is a right answer or a fixed answer to any problem

    Especially in a course like philosophy, Cambridge tutors are looking for students who are able to have an open-minded view on things. For example, students who are able to challenge a well-respected or widely accepted view whilst displaying sound logic, or being able to defend a view in exceptional circumstances and grey areas, would be ideal candidates for the course. Try not to be fixed in your views, even if you strongly believe in something– you can have an opinion or belief in a topic or idea, but that also still leaves space for the understanding and acceptance of other views.

    4. Writing an essay on a school of thought instead of a Cambridge personal statement

    Especially for a course such as philosophy, when explaining a particular school of thought, you could end up writing a personal statement that looks like an argumentative essay instead. Remember to keep the focus of the Cambridge Philosophy personal statement– explaining why YOU are a good fit for the philosophy course at Cambridge. Cambridge admissions tutors would be familiar with any philosophy you are trying to explain, and they are not reading a textbook or to learn a new perspective on it– they are looking to learn about you.

    5. Only expect to have one draft of your Cambridge Philosophy personal statement

    Your first draft will never be your best draft. When planning your timeline for your Cambridge Philosophy personal statement, always factor in time to allow multiple drafts to be completed. It is also important to not leave it to the last minute. This is because it would show in the quality of your work, and tutors would be able to tell if it is rushed. Furthermore, you might miss out on relevant experiences because you were not able to remember them in time.

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      →What is a Cambridge Philosophy personal statement?

      A Cambridge Philosophy personal statement is a document that applicants to the University of Cambridge’s Philosophy program submit as part of their application. The personal statement allows applicants to showcase their academic background, relevant experiences, and motivation for studying Philosophy at Cambridge.

      →What should I include in my Cambridge Philosophy personal statement?

      Your personal statement should highlight your academic background and relevant experiences, as well as your motivation for studying Philosophy at Cambridge. You should also demonstrate your critical thinking skills, ability to analyze complex issues, and passion for philosophical inquiry.

      →What kind of experiences should I include in my Cambridge Philosophy personal statement?

      You should include experiences that demonstrate your interest in and preparation for studying Philosophy at Cambridge. This can include relevant coursework, research projects, internships, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities that showcase your passion for philosophical inquiry.

      →How long should my Cambridge Philosophy personal statement be?

      Cambridge University recommends that your personal statement should be no longer than 4,000 characters, or about 500 words. It is important to be concise and focus on the most relevant and compelling aspects of your experience and qualifications.

      →What qualities are Cambridge Philosophy admissions looking for in applicants?

      Cambridge Philosophy admissions are looking for applicants who demonstrate a strong academic record, critical thinking skills, creativity, and a genuine interest in philosophical inquiry. They also value experiences that demonstrate leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.

      →What is the interview process like for Cambridge Philosophy?

      The interview process for Cambridge Philosophy typically involves a one-on-one interview with a faculty member or admissions officer. The interview will focus on your academic background, personal statement, and motivation for studying Philosophy at Cambridge. It may also include questions about your understanding of the field and your interest in specific areas of study.

      →How important is the personal statement in the Cambridge Philosophy admissions process?

      The personal statement is an important part of the Cambridge Philosophy admissions process, as it provides admissions officers with insights into your academic background, experiences, and motivation for studying Philosophy. It is an opportunity to showcase your unique perspective and strengths as an applicant.

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