When applying for your Chevening Scholarship the third essay you write is on Studying in the UK. The question you will be answering in this essay is, Outline why you have selected your chosen three university courses, and explain how this relates to your previous academic or professional experience and your plans for the future. Please do not duplicate the information you have entered on the work experience and education section of this form.
When selecting your courses, these are some of the most important factors to consider:
Ability~ Select courses that you can manage the academic workload. For instance some courses require specific qualifications in the bachelors degree. This is usually stated in the admission requirements for the course.
Qualifications~ Although the scholarship accepts a 2:2 (second class lower division), most UK master’s courses accept a 2:1 and above. Some universities/courses also have higher English proficiency requirements.
Career plan ~ Your course should also be in line with your career plan which you will write in the fourth and final essay. Your career will be determined by that problem in your country that you want to solve and in line with UK priorities in your country. These can be found in your DFID country website.
The structure of the essay should be in paragraphs not numbered with the first paragraph introducing a problem in your country that motivated you to pursue that course. The first paragraph should also state the course. You can also statistics sparingly to convince the reader of the essay the magnitude of the problem and when you do so, use the latest available data. This helps in building your case on the relevance of your program to your future career plan. In addition, this will form the answer to the interview question ‘Why have you selected this course and the basis of your three university choices’ if shortlisted. You can choose three courses from different universities or three closely related courses from the same university.
The information on courses will be found in specific universities websites, program objectives and modules. It is important to compare modules of programs with the same title in different universities to see whether they suit you. For instance MSc Food Security at University of Warwick is a science course and requires background knowledge in science compared to similar courses in other universities such as Reading. Such differences can only be identified by checking the modules/ course units.
My introduction and first paragraph of my essay was as follows;
Despite being among the top ten destinations for foreign direct investment in Africa and initiating reforms that have led to economic growth since 2003, Kenya faces a high poverty rate and a widening inequality gap. This is due to the lack of evidence-based policies, corruption and political instability during elections. The fact that the number of millionaires is expected to increase while the number of poor people is increasing in the next decade should be a concern for any policymaker in the country. This has motivated me to pursue a Master’s degree in International Development to gain knowledge and skills on poverty reduction, development and addressing inequality. Though much of my career has been in banking, my experience with poor rural communities as a parliamentary candidate in the 2017 General Election makes my case to switch careers.
The second paragraph covered my first choice. You need to convince the reader that you have researched about your universities and courses. You can use university rankings ( specify), location, delivery of content or mode of examination and co-curricula activities. For every reason you give, it is paramount to state how it applies to you. For instance when you say that the University of Reading is rated 1st and 6th in the UK and the world respectively on agriculture and forestry courses, so what? You can give two or three reasons for every course but in my case I was a bit detailed in my first choice. Stating a module that is relevant to a problem in your country and it’s lecturer will make you stand out.
My second paragraph that explained my first choice was as follows;
The MSc Applied International Development offered at the University of Reading is my first choice. The university is among the top twenty institutions in the United Kingdom by research intensity and top thirty by research power which will develop my research competencies to come up with effective evidence-based poverty reduction policies. I plan to specialize in their Agriculture and Social Development pathway as this will be in line with my goal of addressing poverty using agriculture In addition, the course is offered at the Graduate Institute of International Development, Agriculture and Economics (GIIDAE) where I can take electives in agriculture such as Agriculture Project Planning and Management in Developing Countries taught by Dr. Chittur Srinivasan.
Here are my other two paragraphs covering the second and third choices.
My second preferred course is MSc International Development: Poverty, Inequality and Development offered at the University of Manchester. Apart from learning strategies and policies being implemented to advance equality, development and reduce poverty, I will also have a chance for a field trip to experience the global challenge of inequality in another country as part of the course. Based on the 2018 World QS universities rankings by subject, the university is rated 14th in the world and 3rd in the United Kingdom on Development Studies.
My third choice is MSc International Development at the University of Edinburgh. The course is appealing because apart from learning about the historical approaches of international development and politics associated with the subject, there is a whole unit on contemporary issues and organizations of importance to development policy and practice. The university also offers an eight-week research-based project where one is attached to an institution either in the United Kingdom or overseas with an option of completing a research dissertation based on the fieldwork or print and library sources. This will also provide practical experience to complement coursework. The University also has beautiful classic buildings and surrounding scenery that would provide a perfect getaway after lectures to refresh the mind.
My last paragraph was a conclusion of my essay and to wrap up my choice of a masters in international development and was as follows;
Overall studying in the UK will provide an opportunity to build collaborations to achieve Kenyan Vision 2030 which aims to industrialize and transform the country into middle-income status while ensuring high-quality life for her citizens.
Kindly note the reasons for studying in the UK are covered in the paragraphs explaining the course choices.
PS: As I explained in the leadership essay, I will be pursuing MSc. Agriculture and Development at the University of Reading as between submitting my essays and the interview date, I had decided to change my choices and obtained the necessary offers. Kindly note you will only be allowed to change your choices once and that is during your interview. My shift was easy because my career plan was in agriculture and therefore it was easy to convince the panel. If you decide to change your courses at the interview stage, make sure the changes are in line with your career plan as this cannot be changed afterwards.My final list of choices was as follows;
1) MSc Agriculture and Development- University of Reading.
2) MSc Applied International Development- University of Reading.
3) MSc International Development: Poverty, Inequality and Development- University of Manchester .
When selecting your universities, you could start by searching UK universities offering your preferred course. You could narrow down by checking whether you meet admission requirements. Then check modules to see whether they align with your career plan and finally location. In my case, I searched universities offering MSc International Development, since I met requirements for all, I eliminated universities in London since accommodation is expensive despite a higher Chevening stipend compared to other cities. I also wanted to be close to London so Reading became a big candidate (Reading is 25 minutes from London by train). Finally MSc. international development at the University of Reading offered electives in agriculture which was in line with my career. That’s how MSc. Applied International Development ended up being my first choice. However, during my interview I changed my courses and introduced MSc. Agriculture and Development at the University of Reading as my first choice.
Finally be authentic, give your story and do not copy essays of previously selected scholars. The readers can detect plagiarism (an academic offence ) and it makes your interviews in later stages easier when you own your story. In addition, use simple grammatically correct English sentences. Your essays are the opportune moment to create a first impression and writing skills are paramount in this. Have people to proofread your essays for guidance and where you use abbreviations, make sure you give their meaning initially.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are purely mine and do not reflect the position of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and or its partner organizations.