Writing a computer science personal statement: expert advice from universities
Ace your computer science personal statement with these insider tips
We spoke to experts at the University of Hull and the University of Kent to find out what computer science admissions are looking for in your personal statement.
Are you looking for inspiration?
Over on The Student Room, we have more than 40 examples of real computer science personal statements. Among them you will find some that were part of successful applications to the likes of Cambridge, King's and Imperial.
Show them what you already knowNo-one's expecting you to already be an expert in the field, but you can use your personal statement to show what you already understand - or perhaps what you want to learn more of.
Dr Neil Gordon, admissions tutor at the University of Hull says: “Use your personal statement to show your interest in computer science, and that you understand what it is about.
“A key aspect is programming – so you may be able to talk about your experience programming, or how you want to learn to program.”
- Read more: personal statement FAQs
Explain why you want to study computer scienceUniversities want motivated students: your personal statement will stand out if you can prove you are passionate about computer science.
Olaf Chitil, director of undergraduate admissions in the school of computing at the University of Kent, says: “State why you want to study the programme you’ve chosen. What motivates you?
“The statement should demonstrate that you have thought well about your subject choice. Already having developed software and using correct terminology will make you stand out, but such knowledge is not a prerequisite.”
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t studied computer science beforeIf you haven’t been taught computer science before, you should talk about how you’ve explored the subject outside of the classroom.
“Showing evidence of your own personal investigations can be valuable if you haven’t recently studied computing before,” says Neil.
“Visiting a university computing department, attending a science fair, or being a member of a computing society also show a personal interest in the subject.”
Highlight the skills you’ve developed outside the classroomMake sure you include examples of the skills you’ve gained from extracurricular activities and detail how they could be applied to a computer science degree.
Neil explains that, at the University of Hull, they “don’t require prior computing, programming or mathematical qualifications – though they are welcome.
“Your personal statement is a way to tell us more about your skills and interests beyond your existing studies.”
“Computing-related activities such as programming or website development should be described. However, any interest beyond what you had to do in school is good,” Olaf adds.
Share specific examples of projects you’ve attemptedExperimenting with projects in your own time will make your personal statement stand out: it shows universities that you’re proactive and genuinely curious about the subject.
“Generic statements such as ‘keeping up to date with technology’ tell us very little,” says Neil.
“But if you have experience of Scratch programming, have started exploring the use of a programming language such as C# or Java, or have built something using a Raspberry Pi - that is relevant.”
Reflect on the key elements of the degreeNot every computer science degree will be the same: tailor your statement to the specification of the course you’re applying for.
“Computer science degrees come in many forms, so have a look at the focus and reflect that in your statement,” says Neil.
“There’s general computer science, as well as more focused variants on software engineering, AI, games programming and robotics.”
Explain why you deserve a place on the courseAdmissions tutors don’t want to be showered with compliments - they want to know what makes you stand out, so focus on telling them what you have to offer.
“Mention anything that suggests you’ll be a good student,” says Olaf. “Please don’t tell me what an exceptional and world-leading university we are.”