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Can any one help review my SoP?

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I am highly motivated to apply for a PhD in Political Science at xxxxxxx University.  My major interests lie in the sub-fields of Comparative Politics and International Relations. In Comparative Politics, I wish to focus on the politics of the distribution of revenues from the extractive industries (EI). In particular, I am interested in the question of bargaining and distribution of EI revenues at different jurisdiction levels. Specifically, I will examine modalities, mechanisms and fiscal rules for the allocation and use of EI revenues from two resource-rich West African states – Nigeria and Ghana. In doing so, I am inspired by Charles Tiebout’s (1956) theory of decentralized governance, and the literature based on the theory of ‘public choice’ and institutionalism. This comparative focus will provide a better understanding of how institutional arrangements and the nature and character of natural resources affect redistribution approaches.


The second strand of my research, located in the sub-field of International Relations, is an area I have considerable professional and academic experience: “international norms on natural resource governance.” Here, I am interested in the question of why despite the proliferation of global governance mechanisms to promote sustainable utilization of natural resources in resource-rich developing countries, these problems are hardly surmounted. Concrete assessments that address these questions are just beginning to emerge. Conspicuously absent, however, are assessments that incorporate participation and democratization as the core ingredients of natural resource governance. My graduate paper was on this subject, and in light of the aforementioned developments, I believe that more research is needed.


Both my educational and professional experiences have prepared me for [insert name of university] graduate program. During my honors program, I was successful in balancing my time between work, school and extracurricular affairs, by graduating top of the class with the Dean’s Award. In graduate school, my essay won the Graduate Paper Award in Political Economy. I have recently completed a certificate program in Survey Methodology in [insert name of state], [insert name of country], and I consider this experience a significant part of my education. Apart from broadening my horizon, study abroad has improved my research skills, enabling me to present my research to students and scholars working in the area of research methods and resource governance. My wonderful performance in the course is a recent accomplishment that further demonstrates my preparation for a PhD program.


Apart from course work, my practical experience teaching undergraduate courses has sharpened my communication and teaching skills, and thoroughly prepared me for the role of a Teaching Assistant. Teaching, to me, is more than a one-way channel, enabling me to guide and learn from students, just like my teachers had from mine, not as a sage on the stage but as a guide on the side. I enjoy working with students and have developed the ability to define and articulate concepts while engaging them in active discussion in and out of the classroom. In terms of research, my research assistant position during my masters program at the [insert name of university] in organizing a conference on “[insert name of conference]” first exposed me to the practical niceties of policy research when writing the conference report. Furthermore, my interest in policy has been piqued working at the [insert the name of the institute] in [insert name of place], where the intersection between theory and policy is greatly encouraged. Through this fellowship, I am participating in a bi-regional project on [“insert the name of the project”], funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research. In addition to attendance and presentations in international conferences, I have published articles in smaller journals, although I have begun to submit to bigger ones with a higher acceptance rate. In the area of leadership, I served in the student-run assembly during my undergraduate program. Further evidence of my leadership roles is my current position as the coordinator of the [insert the name of association] Student Parliamentary Session in my department. In this capacity, during next winter, I will lead a group of third-year students to witness the AU Summit in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.


With these experiences, I strongly believe that I am well prepared for a PhD program. I have always believed that a PhD program in Political Science that has strong elements of policy in its curriculum, and where the intersection between theory and policy is keenly investigated, will enable me to achieve my goals. [insert name of university], with its outstanding faculty, offers me this rare opportunity. I have investigated your program and was thrilled to learn that public policy course (POLxxx) is mandatory. I have been in correspondence with [insert the name of the professor] and he has agreed to work with me if I am accepted into the program. Apart from his research interests in natural resource management, decentralization and Africa, his strong interests in research methods would make my experience at [insert the name of the university] a challenging and memorable one. Discussion with graduate students in the program  have only reinforced my decision to apply to your program.


Regarding my career objectives, I am interested in developing a career as a university professor. However, a career in a think-tank also offers me an opportunity to practically demonstrate how research and policy are closely interwoven and reinforce each other, and could solve governance challenges in the developing world. Ultimately, however, your PhD program will enhance my career goals, by honing my research skills, as well as a professional stepping stone to my career.


Edited by nomkwagh
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