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History Personal Statement

Example History Personal Statement

The path that has led me to taking a serious intellectual interest in history has not been the conventional route of developing an enthusiasm for the subject in the sixth-form classroom. Instead, what has stimulated my desire to study history is a decade spent working in military intelligence, during which time I had the opportunity to see first-hand how the legacy of the past shapes present-day events.

In October 2000, I joined the British Army Intelligence Corps, in which I served for a period of ten years. During my period of service as an Operator Military Intelligence I was posted to several different European countries, as well as at Army Headquarters, during which time I was involved in a wide range of the Intelligence Corps’ operations. However, my time in the Intelligence Corps also took me to more far-flung parts of the world. After qualifying as an Image Analyst, I was posted to both Iraq and Afghanistan during the initial phases of UK military operations in these countries. I also spent a period working as a Military Analyst Attach at the British Embassy in Beijing.

As a result of these different positions of responsibility, I developed both a deep curiosity for various historical themes and a wide range of skills that I feel will be of utmost relevance to the demands of completing a history degree. Whilst working in Iraq and Afghanistan, one of my duties was to provide historical and cultural briefings. By gaining an in-depth knowledge of areas such as the Durand Line, I developed a real sense of how present conflicts and disputes are shaped by previous eras, with historical events exerting an influence more than a century after they occurred. I also became intrigued by themarked contrasts between how Victorian methods of approaching the question of Afghanistan vary from those deployed today. Developing expertise on the history of the social, religious and ethnic tensions of the areas in which I was working was absolutely fascinating, and I look forward to the opportunity to explore such themes in relation to different periods and countries.

The skills required to carry out the work of an Operator Military Intelligence also have many similarities with those of the historian. In my work I was required to examine and evaluate very large quantities of source material, with the goal of producing complex and lengthy reports that were used to brief high-ranking officials and in turn play a role in informing military decision-making.As a result of my time in the Intelligence Corps I am also no stranger to the demands of intensive classroom study. The six months of training required to become an Image Analyst are amongst the most demanding of the military’s training courses, and as a consequence of this and the experience I have gained in carrying out analytical work and producing reports, I feel that I am fully prepared for the challenges of undergraduate life.

Since leaving the Army it has been my long-term objective to complete a BA in History, with the subsequent goal of either continuing on to postgraduate study or entering the teaching profession, a career choice that would build on an enjoyable year that I spent working as an English Language Assistant in Beijing. I am enthusiastic about the opportunities that a history degree will afford me to hone my analytical skills and immerse myself in a wide range of historical themes and periods. Two of the aspects of studying history that most appeal to me are the way in which different historians from contrasting ideological, philosophical or theoretical backgrounds can develop quite different interpretations of the same period, and the way in which historical interpretations of questions such as the British Empire evolve over time, in accordance with the values and outlook of the era in which they were produced.As a gregarious individual who enjoys engaging in lively debate, I heartily look forward to discussing such issues in seminars and tutorials.

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