A History Personal Statement

A History Personal Statement

Far from indulging a preoccupation with the dusty irrelevances of long-forgotten
events and cultures, as has been the popular cliché of the study of history for many
years, the true student of history is, by necessity, thoroughly engaged with the
contemporary moment. As a key methodology in understanding the present, history
offers almost limitless opportunities to explore the formation of our world while also
continually taking care to investigate its own methods and apply a theoretical rigour
that suggests at least the possibility of finding definitive answers.
It is a fascination with the intertwined processes of both uncovering the past
and unpicking the way in which undertake this activity that has driven me towards the
continuing study of history throughout my school career. While I have performed to a
high standard across a range of subjects, it is in history that I have truly found the
most intellectual satisfaction, gaining impressive grades at both GCSE and AS-Level,
and predicted to exceed these at A-Level and in the AQA Baccalaureate, which I
intend to take in June 2011.
A focus on the history of the Soviet Union has fostered a personal interest that
has also inspired me to continue studying in this area in an extra-curricular capacity.
Reading works such as Orlando Figes’ ‘A People’s Tragedy’ and Ryzard
Kapuscinski’s ‘Imperium’ offered successful examples of the way in which the grand
movements of history can be combined with a focus on the everyday effect on those
who lived through them. In order to greater understand this fascinating period I
decided to undertake an Extended Project Qualification, posing the question “How
successful were Stalin’s collectivisation and industrial programs in modernising the
USSR between 1928 and 1941?” The successful completion of this project has not
only offered the opportunity to gain a greater depth of knowledge in this specific
period but also offered an opportunity to gain experience of core study skills, such as
time management, and those specific to history, such as the interpretation of various
sources.
In addition to my interest in the history of the Soviet Union I have worked
hard to broaden my knowledge of the discipline. I have discovered a voracious
appetite for books dealing with almost any period of history, thoroughly enjoying
Tom Holland’s take on the rise of Christendom and early European history in
‘Millenium’ and also gaining an introduction to the study of history itself, in the form
of Richard Evan’s compelling ‘In Defence of History’. As a prospective student
contemplating the earliest steps on my journey through the discipline, the questions
raised by the study of historiography appear central to the future production of truly
valuable work within the field, and it is certainly an area that I would be keen to
pursue through further study.
While my passion for history has played a key role in both my studies and my
extra-curricular activities, I have also found time to participate in the wider life of my
college, gaining a Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award and a Junior Football
Organiser’s Award and occupying the role of Treasurer on the College Council. Each
of these activities has proven an excellent opportunity to gain communication and
leadership skills that have improved my ability to work as part of team. As a
meticulous, hardworking and highly motivated individual, pushing myself to achieve
set goals outside of my chosen field has improved both my confidence in my ability to
bring these qualities to bear in a range of fields and my conviction that they find their
greatest expression in combination with my dedicated enthusiasm for history.