Struggling to write your Maths and Computer Science personal statement? Not sure how to link the two subjects? Looking for inspiration for show-stopping ideas? Don’t worry, we’ve written a model personal statement to help you realise your ambition of studying Maths and Computer Science at Oxford.
Example Personal Statement
It has always been a dream of mine to discover or prove something in the field of mathematics that no-one has ever done before me.
Top tip: A striking first sentence will grab the admissions tutor’s attention.
The vast number of subjects under the umbrella term ‘Maths’ are linked by their methods of taking axioms and using logical deductions to come to conclusions which are undeniably true, and will always be so: this is what I find awe-inspiring about it. Some pure mathematics has no real world application in the present day, but many pieces of information which were previously considered abstract or purely theoretical are being put into practice today as science and technology catches up to maths; thus, I believe the study of it is of inherent importance to mankind.
Computing is an area where maths is crucial.
Top tip: Good to link the two disciplines of your Joint Honours together, even if by one sentence.
The field of Boolean algebra was created in the mid-1800s, and it was not until a century later that this became the foundation of digital electronics. I attended a Mathematics and Computer Science open day at Oxford University and heard several fascinating lectures about both subjects: for instance, on the ‘k-armed bandit’, a problem about what the optimal action to take is in a situation where risk and reward are unknown.
Top tip: Direct references to things you learnt or remember from courses is good; making your personal statement less general and more specific is effective.
This typifies the conjunction of maths and computing: the problem is stated in terms of probability theory, but has wide-ranging applications in computer science (e.g. machine learning).
Since primary school, I have seized every opportunity available to me to learn more about mathematics. Most recently, I have taken part in UKMT’s Senior Maths Challenge 2015 where I achieved a silver certificate, and the Senior Team Challenge. In 2013, I took part in the Alan Turing Cryptography Competition, where our team finished [xth] out of 250. More informally, through reading articles on the internet, I have learned about many esoteric areas of pure or recreational mathematics, two of which are: hyperoperations up to and beyond tetration (e.g. what is Graham’s number?) and arithmetic in different base systems (e.g. using a radix point, how are various unit fractions expressed in base 24?).
In year 12, I was given a KS5 Computer Science award by my school. In my spare time, I like to code programs in Python and C# to solve ‘Euler Project’ problems: a series of questions based in mathematics but designed to be solved through programming. Problems I have solved range massively in their topic areas, from ‘Repunit divisibility‘ (a problem involving divisibility of numbers with over a million digits) to ‘Monopoly odds‘ (using 4-sided dice, what are the 3 most commonly landed on squares on a Monopoly board?). Over the past year, I have solved over 75 of these problems, as well as creating programs on other topics that spark my interest, from a program that does basic calculus to one that finds Pythagorean quadruples.
In 2014, I spent a week working at [a local library]; in 2016, I spent a week helping secondary school children in maths and science lessons. I believe that my learning outside of school shows that I have the skill to research new ideas independently, convey a strong ability in maths and computing, and most importantly attest an unquenchable enthusiasm for numbers and everything associated with them.
Another significant hobby of mine is music. Music may seem dissimilar to mathematics, but I think of the two as quite similar – both involve creating complex structures from very basic ideas. I have achieved a Distinction at grade 7 in both the flute and the electronic keyboard. I play the flute in three different orchestras, including [a youth orchestra], and have performed solos in school concerts. This shows that I have a lot of dedication, and can learn effectively without much contact time with a teacher, two skills I believe are essential at university. I also spent a year and a half teaching my 12 year old sister music theory, culminating in her achievement of a Merit at grade 5 in 2016. My experience teaching her has helped me refine the ability to convey complicated ideas in simple terms, and creating lesson plans for her required good organisation skills.
I go swimming twice a week as a member of [swimming club], where I was vice captain from 2014-2015. I also volunteer semi-regularly at Parkrun, a weekly running race. Additionally, I enjoy playing chess, a game I have used to hone my attention to detail, where a move can take half an hour to make and leaving yourself in a situation where your opponent can gain one pawn can be catastrophic.
I look forward to the challenges of studying mathematics and computer science at university, along with contributing to music societies and making new friends.
Hopefully you’ve gained some insight into the sort of structure and content that the Oxbridge tutors will be looking for. If you’re looking for more inspiration, take a look at our guide to a Maths and Statistics application, or our example personal statements for single honours Maths.
Above all else, remember to write about your main areas of interest in maths and computer science. That way, your enthusiasm will shine through and you’ll rise to the top of the pile!