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University of Leicester, History Personal Statement

History, University of Leicester

My interest in history started with stories of my grandparents’ struggles when they first migrated to England from Guyana. This family experience is the result of social, economic and political forces and I would like to study for a history degree at university as it would give me the opportunity to study a wide range of interests.

What enthuses me the most about history is that we are not forced to accept a universal truth. Instead, we are encouraged to come to our own, unique conclusions about the true impact and legacy of historical events. History allows us to understand how our world has evolved both socially and economically. This knowledge is vital in terms of both appreciating humanity’s progress and criticising the areas that still require improvement. Studying the Civil Rights Movement for my History A-Level allowed me to develop these evaluative skills in order to come to insightful conclusions regarding the extent of change in race relations in America. This drove me to watch the documentary ‘The Murder of Emmett Till’ and read Adam Fairclough’s ‘Better Days Coming’, helping me to comprehend the challenges faced by African Americans at the time. This, combined with the recent killings of unarmed black people by American law enforcement officers and the fact that we must remind people that ‘Black Lives Matter’ on social media helped me come to the conclusion that not much has genuinely changed in terms of race relations in the country.

History is central to my A-Level subjects. The novel ‘Heart of Darkness’ and its historical context in English Literature links directly to my current history course, examining the motives behind European colonisation and decolonisation in Africa. This intensified my interest in imperialism, influencing me to attend a talk by Professor Denis Judd, where he discussed his book ‘The Lion and the Tiger: The Rise and Fall of the British Raj’. Moreover, my sociology course involves comparing the past to our current society in order to understand social advances in terms of different sociological perspectives, such as the rise of feminism through time.

Joining my college’s Law Support Group has given me the ability to utilise and further my debating skills. From watching real court cases at The Old Bailey to partaking in mock trials over topics such as the legalisation of euthanasia, I have learned how to balance multiple viewpoints in order to produce a convincing and fair argument. Being a part of my college’s History Club and subscribing to ‘BBC History Magazine’ has enabled me to stay connected to developments in history and communicate with people who share my enthusiasm for the subject.

Completing a Bronze Arts Award boosted my confidence and self-motivation, as I gave presentations to my peers about topics of my choosing. Additionally, partaking in the Jack Petchey Speak-Out Challenge taught me how to present any topic in an engaging and inspiring way. I have worked at the Lee Valley White Water Centre’s café, where I gained valuable social skills through interactions with customers. During my work experience placement at Wood Green Crown Court, I was trusted with important tasks, such as filing away legal evidence ready for the barristers to use.

Overall, I am a hardworking and self-motivated student with a willingness to better myself in any way possible. My experiences prove that I am suited to both independent and social activity, essential to history as a subject and university life as a whole. I feel confident that history will provide me with the intellectual challenge that is best suited to my personality and the thought of studying this whilst integrating with university life truly excites me.