Statement of Purpose

If you are asked for a Statement of Purpose - sometimes called an 'Application Essay ' or 'Letter of Intent' it means that you are seriously being considered for a placement or post. It is, however, a demanding test of your written communication skills so you will need to spend some time on this!

Format: A statement of purpose is normally one or two pages, written in the first person, to demonstrate that you have both the ability and motivation to succeed in your chosen career. Drawing on your experience you show that you are a serious candidate and that your choice is coherent with your proven abilities and the nature of the institution or company that you are applying to. The statement should be explicit but try to bear in mind the KISS principle Keep It Short and Simple!

Preparation: Input from fellow students, returning students and especially your specialist professors and language teachers will be very useful. Read the instructions very carefully and double check rather than assume things. If the statement requires detailed responses to specific questions, answer fully paying attention to words and nuance. As in the covering letter your statement should make reference to the institution or company in a positive and meaningful way; so research them well and try to remain up to date as develoments can occur between your original application and the request for a statement of purpose.

Content: because a statement of purpose is an extremely personal and candidate-specific exercise we do not provide a model for one on our examples pages. Nevertheless here is a rough outline of what is expected.

  • Introduce yourself and provide some personal information about your upbringing and your background particularly where it has relevence to your current demand.
  • You may like to introduce any themes that you wish to develop later as you explain your motivation. It is OK to be original but not at the risk of being strange. Avoid any humour that isn't very mild!
  • Draw lightly on experiences that have little to do with your current request but significantly on what you have learned and assimilated from those that have. Talk about how you have gone further than necessary, or when you have taken initiative. Explain any setbacks and show what they taught you. You should make a clear link between your recent experience and your current canditure to give your application coherence.
  • Achievements, goals attained, awards and good marks should be emphasised as should your skills and qualities but avoid being too egotistical.
  • Explain how your current request corresponds to your longer-term career goals.
  • Say what you hope that the post ( placement, internship ) will have given you when you successfully finish.

In conclusion. Proof-reading is of course essential; punctuation, spelling, names and addresses should be perfect. Make an effort with the layout, printing (and paper unless it is in electronic form). Respect deadlines.

For more specialised information and more examples see


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