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We are excited that you are considering applying for our new BSc Economics, Finance and Data Science course at Imperial College Business School. One of the things you will be wondering about is how to show your enthusiasm and suitability for the degree in your UCAS personal statement. In this blog, I will provide some pointers and, hopefully, reassurance.

The challenge

Let us start with the big challenge you face. You need to write one personal statement, when you are applying to up to five courses, potentially across five universities. We know that it is highly unlikely that all the options on your personal statement will be economics + finance + data science. We are not looking for students who specifically say they are only interested in studying a course with this combination of subjects, although an interest in this combination would be nice!

Hopefully, this will reassure those wondering how to write a statement that is relevant for multiple courses with different combinations of economics, finance, data science, philosophy, politics, business studies, geography, maths, computer science, and many other subjects. Of course, it is best not to signal that you are only interested in studying politics, philosophy and economics or pure maths or that you dream of studying at a particular institution or in a specific city.

We are looking for applicants who have a strong preference to study our degree, but we understand you may need to be nuanced in how you present your interest.

What we are looking for

We will be assessing your application (grade predictions; past grades; reference letter; and personal statement) in the round. There are six things that we are looking for from potential students. They are:

  • Strong academic achievements
  • Curious about evolving boundaries of research and professional practice in economics, and/or finance, and /or data science
  • Excited by problem-solving and facing new challenges
  • Passionate about applying quantitative tools and models to commercial and policy questions
  • Motivated and engaged learners who work well independently and with peers
  • Strong communicators

Your job is to convince us that you have evidence that you meet these criteria. This is where you get to tell your story in a way that works for your application. 

How to tell your story

Try to go beyond your grades, show your curiosity and let us know what makes you stand out from an academic perspective.

There are a multitude of ways to evidence your curiosity about the different subjects in our degrees, including but not limited to:

  • Subjects chosen at school
  • Projects that you have worked on
  • Talks that you have attended or listened to online
  • Books you have read
  • Ideas you have had about the relevance of these subjects to business and policy

Again, just to reassure, you can demonstrate your curiosity about all three areas, but convincing evidence of curiosity about just one of the areas or any combination of the three will also be well regarded.

It is also worth emphasising that we do not expect you to have studied the subjects before the course. Our requirement is that you come with strong mathematical skills which will put you in a strong position to learn economics, finance, and data science to a high level in the degree.

An effective way to show us you are suitable for the BSc Economics, Finance and Data Science is to hone in on the areas that are common across our course modules: strong quantitative skills and the ability to use those skills to analyse and solve problems.

Applicants who love to work on a new challenge or situation and who use quantitative techniques to find relevant solutions are what we are looking for. This can be demonstrated, for example, through your choice of academic subjects in school, participation in extra-curricular activities and competitions or a story that explains how you solved a new problem in your life. Evidence of you learning how to use technology to support your problem solving is also a nice touch!

You will have your own way of showing us that you are motivated, using examples of times when you were driven to succeed. Similarly, personal stories that show your ability to develop your learning skills (‘learn how to learn’), working independently and with others, will be important. This will help us see that you are likely to succeed in our course, given the need to take ownership of your learning, work independently and engage with group work during your three years.

Our final criterion is communication. How you write the statement will tell us a lot. You can also provide wider evidence of your skills in delivering presentations, writing diverse types of outputs, and listening to others.

Every applicant is unique, and we encourage you to show us what makes you a strong candidate in your personal statement. Of course, if you are invited to interview, we will want to explore your motivation to study the three subject areas together and will dig deeper into how you match what we are looking for.

I hope this helps you shape your statement and wish you well in preparing your application!