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History Personal Statement

The desire to pursue a degree in history became clear to me during my A-level study of the Catholic Reformation. It was during this, that I realized what we understand about the past is entirely dependent upon how historians decide to interpret events. German, Lutheran historians interpreted the Catholic Reformation as a reactionary process to Protestantism whereas Catholic historians observed the reforming process occurring since the Great Schism of the 14th Century. From studying the Catholic reformation I have become fascinated by the power of historical interpretation in influencing how we perceive our world today.

Since September I have been studying a Joint Honours degree in History and Philosophy. Although I have so far enjoyed the course, my passion for history has overtaken my interest in Philosophy. For this reason I have decided to start over doing a Single Honours in History, which I feel, is more suited to my ambitions. Having already started University this year, I see myself in an advantageous position, as I now know exactly what I want to study and what to expect from University life.

My study of American History has reinforced my desire to study History because more than any other country, I believe that the USA has successfully altered history in order to avoid internal scrutiny and create a positive national identity. The country's portrayal of the Civil War clearly demonstrates this idea, as Americans emphasize the egalitarian sentiments of abolition whilst ignoring the economic motives that were the real driving forces behind the conflict. When I first discovered how Americans today are so misinformed on their county's past, it became clear how history could be used as a socio-political tool.

Besides reading material related to my A-level course, I have enjoyed reading books such as Summer of Blood by Dan Jones, Napoleon by Vincent Cronin and Lincoln by Jan Morris. Through reading such books it has become obvious to me the different styles historians adopt to deliver history to the reader. I have found Dan Jones to be particularly impressive because of his ability to successfully portray the horror of the Peasant Revolt whilst accurately depicting the many individuals who were integral to the playing out of the revolt including Wat Tyler and the young King Richard II.

Whilst reading Vincent Cronin's biography of Napoleon I realized how important it is to reveal something new that historians have failed to focus on before. The thing that sticks in my mind most about this book was Cronin's conviction that part of Napoleon's downfall was in his desperate need to impress and befriend European counterparts such as Alexander I of Russia and Talleyrand who equally betrayed and deceived Napoleon. I found this to be an interesting insight as to how Napoleon's personal flaws may have contributed to his downfall.

Besides studying history, I have enjoyed playing rugby from a young age. In previous seasons I have received several awards including Player of the Year and Player's Player of the year. Most recently I was nominated captain of my school's 2nd XV. I hope to continue playing rugby and transfer skills such as teamwork, responsibility and handling pressure into university life.

In the past, I have taken an active role in charity work for ********* through which I helped repaint schools and nurseries across ***********. I have found Charity work to be rewarding and along the way I have become more understanding of the difficult situations people can find themselves in. At University, I intend to further improve my ability to interpret and write about the past as well as get to know people who enjoy History as much as I do. Through studying history I hope to become a competent writer so that by the time I have left university I will be in a position to write about history for a living rather than follow an unrelated career path.

Universities Applied to:

  • University of Warwick (History) - Offer (Unconditional) Firm
  • University of Edinburgh (History) - Offer (Unconditional)
  • University of Bristol (History) - Rejection
  • University of Nottingham (History) - Offer (Unconditional)
  • University of Manchester (History) - Offer (Unconditional)

Grades Achieved:

  • History (AS/A2) - A
  • Geography (AS/A2) - A
  • Theology (AS/A2) - A
  • Economics (AS) - C

Comments

This personal statement was written for my reapplication. Originally, I began studying at a Redbrick University but around December time I had second thoughts and decided to reapply. I would recommend reapplying to anybody who feels uncomfortable in their first year of study.

General Comments:

Comments on the statement:

I feel that writing about specific areas of interest and referring to books I have read really helped.


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