I'm applying to two courses viz - Mathematical Physics MSc and Theoretical Physics MSc at the University of Edinburgh. I'm currently a final year bachelors student. From what I can gather post a decent amount of research, the two courses differ in the allocation of compulsory math courses. I've attached a description from the course website.

I'd like to know how similar the personal statement can be. Obviously I have included program specific components in the two separate statements, and I have also added different motivations behind applying to both courses. But fundamentally they are similar courses, and the parts of the SOP that involve my background or my interests towards physics/math physics will remain the same. I'm honestly worried that if the same admissions team receives both statements, they may not read whichever statement they read second, because of a similar narrative (introduction atleast, for the lack of better explanation).

Do I have to give an entirely different personal statement now?

2 Answers 2


You want the two statements to be unified, so that a person reading both isn't confused. And especially, doesn't think you are playing to the audience rather than being honest. As you suggest, the programs may share faculty, and hence admissions committee members.

But especially, don't say things in one that are inconsistent with things in the other.

  • Yeah I am mentioning similar research interests, but elaborating on a different 'why' for instance. But again, not too different. I'm just worried one of them may be dismissed halfway through.
    – newtothis
    Mar 3, 2020 at 16:10
  • It is possible, of course, but you can't prevent that. They will get the idea, I think, in any case, as long as everything is consistent.
    – Buffy
    Mar 3, 2020 at 16:12

As others have said, write a strong essay that contains some specialization to the program and identify who you want to work with and why. If the beginning of this essay overlaps with another that should be fine, just don't contradict yourself.

How your application is evaluated might depend on how separate the two programs are.

  1. One way this might get broken up is that mathematical physics gets a stack of mathematical physics applications and theoretical physics gets a stack of theoretical physics applications. Of the hundred(s) who apply, each side of the program selects their top candidates. The two programs then meet to fight about how spots are allocated. (Maybe everyone acknowledges that mathematical physics happened to receive generally weaker candidates in a particular year, so more spots are allocated to theoretical physics, &c.)
  2. Every application is dumped in a giant pool at the beginning.

In the first case, if only one of your applications makes it to the top, you're fine. If two of your applications make it to the top it seems unlikely to me that the program rejects you. In fact, it's good evidence in your favour: twice as many people have independently found you to be a desirable candidate.

In the second case, I'm not sure what happens.

Contacting a program coordinator to get more information is probably a good way of figuring this out.

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