Statement of Purpose - Sociology
I am applying for admission to your prestigious MA in Sociology program for the upcoming fall term. In the modern world, in which cultures and countries are increasingly interconnected, it is essential to have a firm understanding of various world cultures. With this in mind, I am eager to undertake studies in your program, as it will equip me with professional knowledge as well as the requisite language skills that are crucial to success. I have great interests in exploring the different cultures of the world and acquiring comprehensive sociological training. Therefore, the MA in Sociology program at your institution is my ideal choice for postgraduate study. I am encouraged by the curriculum, professors, and resources available in your institution, and I am inspired to devote myself to advanced studies of Sociology. Having done some research into the content of this program, I strongly believe that it will allow me to strengthen my analytical skills, whilst inspiring me and giving me the opportunity to develop my ideas.
As an undergraduate in Goodwell University, majoring in Foreign Languages and Literature, I learned a great deal, both academically and in daily life. In this major, I acquired much useful professional knowledge and confirmed my strong interests in different societies and cultures by taking the required courses, including courses focusing on American literature, European literature, and the literature of different Asian countries. In addition to the required courses, I also took elective courses related to sociology, gender issues, communication and negotiation, and various language courses. Our instructors often shared with us their own practical foreign experiences which influenced me considerably and reinforced my determination to pursue studies abroad. I am drawn to the UK by its rich culture, beautiful landscapes and unique historical legacy. Although my university studies are not directly to my proposed major, I am confident that my passion and diligence will enable me to take full advantage of the education you offer and successfully complete my studies.
With regard to my future plans, I hope to take advantage of my time studying in your MA in Sociology program to strengthen my background in the field, and I especially hope to focus on the area of Women’s Studies. After completion of the MA in Sociology program, I hope to enter the Ph.D. program to conduct further research. As for my long-term goals, after completing my postgraduate education I hope to return to my native country and apply my skills and expertise to make beneficial contributions to the field of sociology and the culture in general. I hope to combine my personal interest with the education and practical knowledge gained from your program to help advance the field of sociology in my country. The MA in Sociology offered by your school is integral to my goals, and I therefore sincerely hope that you will give me a chance to develop my skills and further reinforce my capabilities in your esteemed department.
From social inequality and crime, to culture and the media, sociology can be applied to most aspects of life. It's an exciting subject to study at university and to secure a place on a course you must demonstrate particular qualities and interests. Equally, there are important things you should avoid as a budding sociologist.
What to include
"Include a mixture of three things: a passion for the subject, what you want to get out of university, and what you can offer the university," says Dr Mark Monaghan, admissions tutor for sociology and social policy at Leeds University.
Sociological interests: Dr Wendy Bottero, senior lecturer in sociology at Manchester University, says: "People often don't get the opportunity to study sociology at school or college, so we're interested in how they view the subject, why they want to study it and how it fits in with their life".
Tailor your statement to the institutions you're applying to. "Look at departments' webpages to see the modules on offer. Gear your application towards your preferred department, but be careful not to alienate other universities. Mention broad areas of sociology that are taught by a number of your choices," says Dr Gareth Millington, admissions tutor for sociology at York University.
Applicants who are new to the subject should say how they became interested in it: "Everyone will have had experiences that can be linked to sociologically relevant issues. Your part-time job in McDonalds is as relevant as having done work experience with an MP – the important point is how you link what you've done to thinking about social issues and how society works," says Dr Patrick White, admissions tutor for sociology at Leicester University.
Sociological texts: Show that you've read some relevant books. Monaghan recommends Zygmunt Bauman's What Use is Sociology? and C Wright Mills' The Sociological Imagination. Monaghan also recommends the Guardian's Society section to give you "an awareness of current debate".
Career aspirations: You should have at least some knowledge of what you can do with a sociology degree, but don't worry if you don't know exactly what job you want. "We expect applicants to be aware of the kinds of jobs available, but we wouldn't expect you to have any specific career in mind," says Monaghan.
Non-academic interests: Universities are looking at more than just your academic interests: "We want someone who shows enthusiasm and passion more generally, for example through clubs and societies. But sociologists know that this is often down to how well-off someone is, so we don't discriminate on this basis," says Bottero.
"We want someone who takes a critical view of common assumptions that people lazily accept."
What to avoid
Confusion: Sociology may be offered as part of a joint honours degree at some universities and as a single subject at others, which can result in a confused statement. Monaghan says: "Be consistent about the degree you're applying for. You may be applying for different courses at different universities, so think about the social sciences in general."
"Work out where there's common ground between degree programmes, such as politics or history, and stress that your interests are in those areas of overlap," says Bottero.
A rigid structure: The statement needs to be clear, but your personality should still shine through. "There is no set recipe for personal statements because we like to see students express who they are," says Dr Anne-Marie Fortier, from the sociology department at Lancaster University.
At Bristol University, templates are "strongly discouraged" because they result in a "generic" end product.
Sloppy writing: It might sound obvious, but as White says: "This is your chance to show that you can write well. Whatever the content, an applicant with a poorly written personal statement is unlikely to be offered a place".
Last but not least: "There's no need to overdo it with superlatives. Keep it simple and honest", says Fortier.