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THE UK: Applying to University

Hygiene and tropical medicine: Admissions advice

Find out what admissions officers at the prestigious London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said when we asked them some of the most popular Admissions questions we receive.

Library at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

We spoke to admissions Officer Gemma, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), to find out what she considers important in an application:


Is there anything which immediately turns you off an application?

Incomplete applications - If there is a checklist do make sure you use this and tick every box. Sending in a complete application ensures it is processed quickly.


Vague work experience with gaps - Ensure you include lots of detail of work experience, avoiding any gaps in your CV. For example, if you studied for one year at undergraduate level and decided to withdraw from a course, include this as it shows you have studied to that level. As admissions officers we need a complete picture of an applicant's academic and professional experience. This information helps us get a fuller picture of your level and we can also work out your fee status.


A weak personal statement - The personal statement is extremely important in your application. Your qualification (e.g. 2:1, 70%) only shows that you are meeting the minimum requirement for entry. The personal statement explains to us why you are choosing to apply to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, why this course in particular, and how you are planning to use this course to enhance your career. As applications are extremely competitive, the personal statement is very important in deciding who will be offered the course.


Not sending in a detailed transcript - A scan of a degree certificate is not sufficient. A certificate only shows the overall pass; not a detailed list of modules undertaken. A transcript is used to make an assessment of academic ability.


For those sending in scanned transcripts and documents, please also scan the back page. Often with transcripts the back page includes various explanations to the transcript. We require this information to understand the grading system of your previous university. Please remember that applying for a postgraduate course at the School is a competitive process.


Translating an overseas qualification, yourself - If it is called a ‘Licenciatura Laurea’ or a ‘Maitrise’, please call it that and do not automatically translate it to a 'Bachelor's' or 'BSc'. The admissions Staff do the assessment of what it is, they have the resources to do this. Keep the qualification title in the original language.


Including a photo with your CV - At the school we prefer for applicants not to send in a photo with their CV. This varies across universities; if in doubt ask the Admissions staff.


Are there any factors which consistently come up in discussions between you and your colleagues? What areas of the application does your institution place an emphasis on which others might not?

Professional experience, paid or voluntary - The length and amount isn't the issue, but having some is the important thing as it shows motivation.


A comprehensive, complete application - Treat your application to a course as you would an application to a job. In your mind you should be submitting an excellent comprehensive application.


Applications and CVs organised in themes - We would recommend you keep your studies and work experience in a chronological format, either recent first or vice versa. Ensure also that you include a location - e.g. Wellcome Trust India, London etc


Does an applicant's social media activity ever play a role in the admissions process?



What guidance is available for international applicants who are worried about what stage their application is at?

We have a lot of useful information on our website. You can also email or call us. We would recommend that you are patient as applications take 6 to 8 weeks to be processed. Ensuring you submit a complete application should reduce queries and make the process faster.


How highly do you rate improvement in grades?

This would be a comment for our Course Directors. Admission Staff do not deal with this.


What advice would you give to someone who is about to be interviewed by a university?

Be honest. Revise your subject, especially Maths. Be clear about why you want to study the course. You can do this by demonstrating how doing the course will show academic and professional progression (as you would in the Personal Statement). Have humility; there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.


There is a difference with excellent applications from various countries, age groups and subject areas. Seeing how hard someone has worked and what they have achieved given their circumstances is more highly valued than excellent grades. With grades, you might meet the minimum entrance requirements but it doesn't guarantee a place.


From your time in admissions, is there an application which stands out in your mind, whether for good or bad reasons? Tell us about it.

A personal statement that was just two lines in length. It is worth remembering that we are not just ticking criteria; we are making a qualitative assessment.


Good applications are never on our desks long enough as they are quickly processed!


Find out more more about LSHTM and the wide range of courses they offer, such as their course in Public Health.


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