Jump to content

SOPs: UK vs US prompts

Recommended Posts

I'm applying to taught MA programs in Medieval Studies mostly in the UK. I've read that UK adcomms tend to prefer a straightforward statement of your research interests and explanation of "fit" with the university/program, as opposed to a more grandiose personal narrative of your life and trials. Does anyone have any experience with this that they can share? My generic SOP is pretty to-the-point as it is: the first paragraph (of three, the second being research/academic interests and the third "fit") is really the only one with any personal anecdote, as it very briefly describes how I became interested in the subject.

In sum: how much personal anecdote is too much? Is there a difference in style preference between the UK and the US?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not really qualified to say as I am just a student like yourself, but my hunch is that this is true. Most applications I have seen for doctorate programs really just ask for your research objectives, they're not too interested in why you love the field so much. In my application for my MSc, I was transitioning from electronic engineering to bioengineering and spoke about how my previous experience related to the new work I was going to do. So my advice would just be coherent, concise and don't ramble on about things like how you love the subject so much. That doesn't mean it should be boring though!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a British student applying to US doctoral programs, and having talked to British faculty members in the States, i think I have a fairly good grasp of this.

The different approaches generally map onto the cultural differences between the two places. The British are fairly self-effacing and to the point, and the kind of sentimentalised narrative that many US adcoms seem to like ("ever since I was a child, I wanted to study....") comes across as a bit odd. I would definately say this should be avoided and that should give a fairly straightforward account of your interests, objectives for graduate study, and reasons for applying to the course/university.

Doctoral statements are even more like this - unlike in the US, they are detailed research proposals for a certain question. But institution websites give a fairly good indication for what they want in this respect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use