Chemistry at Oxford

UCAS Personal Statement

Science led progress, alongside right governance, in my view, has had the most significant impact on world poverty. I have seen, during visits to India, the positive impact that affordable drugs have had in improving longevity as well as other human development indices. Much of this is owed to advancements in chemistry. Being among the 4 students selected from 60 applicants in my school who competed for a visit to NASA also proved an eyeopener. Beyond the overawing exposure to innovative space technology, I marvelled at the myriad applications of chemistry, such as development of new space suits and aiding growth of plants in space. Meeting pioneering chemists in such distinct fields exposed me to the diverse purview of chemistry and affirmed my decision to pursue the subject.


At a week long Oxford UNIQ summer school for chemistry, I was fascinated to learn about animal magnetism and how the ability of birds to navigate so well is explained by the free radical reactions in their retinas; the ability to research and explain phenomena like this using chemistry is something I look forward to developing during my degree. I was intrigued by how the haem prosthetic group of haemoglobin functioned, with the movement of the Fe2+ in the group inducing positive cooperativity; this helped me appreciate inorganic chemistry beyond my A-Level, complementing what I had learnt in biology. In the lab, I learned to make indigo using unfamiliar apparatus such as a Hirsch funnel.  In physical chemistry sessions I used UV-vis spectrometers to create a calibration curve, to test for a dyes’ weight in a lozenge. These experiences helped me recognise first-hand how integral practical work is to the advancement of chemistry.


During an internship at UCL, I learned about how chirality determines the reactions of a molecule, such as thalidomide and naproxen, where the enantiomers have drastically different effects. On a taster day I evolved lab skills related to this by testing an unknown substance using TLC and IR spectroscopy, and finding it was aspirin, which taught me the significance of lab equipment in analytical chemistry. Furthermore, I learned about drug development’s route from molecule to market, and the data processing during testing, while reading Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science”. All of this enlightened me to the many research opportunities in the field of drug design - a vital service of chemistry that impacts the lives of millions. Reading periodicals such as Chemistry World keeps me abreast of strides made in many fields like drug development, such as antimicrobial polymers. I attended a series of lectures at the Royal Society of Chemistry about the role of plastic and how chemists can help deal with this scourge. It inspired me to read further into green chemistry and I published an article on this in my school newspaper. I enjoy writing and video-making, especially about science. I have always admired great documentaries and am a firm believer in communicating science as a key objective of research work. Recently, I shot a video on the synthesis of raspberry ketone with a few of my friends: my love of practical chemistry and video-making coalesced into a well-received venture.


I cultivated my capacity to take complex topics and explain them in simpler ways, as a tutor for children aged 7-16 and as Deputy Head Boy I have lead assemblies. I look forward to joining debating societies at university and have set one up at my school - which helped me to develop leadership and management skills. I am adept at time management - handling 4 A-Levels, a job as a tutor, as well playing squash, while still finding time to read and write on science.


Chemistry has exerted a great influence on me over the past four years and I have nourished this via focused experiences and further reading. I am keen to formalise my deep interest in the subject with a degree as a stepping-stone into a career focused on research in academia.

Behind the Statement

How did you make start on your personal statement or begin planning?

I looked at examples online and wrote from the heart.

How did you decide what experiences to include in your personal statement? What did you cut out?

I looked at what would show me to be a good student rather than a smart student. I cut out what ever I felt just felt like information about my achievements rather than my potential.

How did you get these experiences in the first place?

Signing up for every opportunity I could find, and asking people for any options they had to shadow/work with them.

How did you structure your personal statement? 

Short Intro, para 1 about two experiences, para 2 about two other experiences, finishing paragraph about non-related extra-curriculars that show my skills eg time-management

How did you decide on an introduction for your personal statement?

Something original and that had actually happened in my life.

How did you decide on a conclusion for your personal statement?

I used a layout that showed the skills my extra-curriculars gave me.

What do you think are the strengths of your personal statement?

Concise and well flowing

Is there anything you wish you knew beforehand/advice?