History Personal Statement

Terence Khoo Rong Her  is currently a third year undergraduate reading BA History at King’s College London. This personal statement was part of his successful application to King’s College London, LSE, University of Exeter, University of York and University of Bristol for History.


History has a special place in my life due to visits made to my grandfather. His wartime stories brought me closer to him. One particular account that still fascinates me is the first that he ever told me. Images flash through my mind as he describes his youthful curiosity of the roar of the Japanese planes flying overhead their village. Curiosity turned to terror when he relives the anxiety shown in his mother’s eyes when rumours spread that Japanese invasion was imminent thus leading them to seek shelter in the nearby jungle. It was rather disconcerting to pass by the usually vibrant downtown areas of my hometown, Ipoh, knowing that in the past, the same place was a backdrop for horrendous atrocities which occurred there. It’s hard to envisage that almost seventy years ago, people, especially of Chinese ethnicity, lived in fear of the Japanese and the atmosphere of oppression that gripped the city rather than the lively and vibrant city that it is today.

As I grew older, what started as an in-depth look at Malaysian history has progressed to a passionate love of both European and world history. I am fascinated about the interlinking events that occurred in 20th century Europe and how these have a profound effect on the rest of the world. Indeed, how the actions of one individual can have such a grave effect on the history we study today. For example, a craving for a sandwich by Gavrilo Princip after a botched assassination coupled with the jamming of the gears of Archduke Ferdinand’s car culminated not just in his death but more significantly the trigger event of WW1. Indeed, the impact did not stop there as Germany’s eventual defeat in war and its humiliation in regards to the Treaty of Versailles led to the rise of Nazism and the eventual outbreak of a further war in 1939. The ending of WW2 saw a new conflict in regards to that of East vs West and likewise the creation of Israel in 1948 has ramifications for peace in the world today.

History allows us to ask questions. Indeed, what if Princip was not hungry, how would the world look today? The fact that History is a huge story filled with tragic coincidences and intriguing human behaviours are what makes the study of history so appealing. Increased understanding of human behaviour empowered me to study A Level Psychology as it enhances my knowledge of how the mind works thus gaining a deeper insight into people’s actions. For example, was it Stalin’s paranoia that led him to purge so many people and likewise was it Hitler’s failure to deal with rejection by Jewish owned artist galleries that led to the holocaust? Solving these dilemmas is like deciphering through a mathematical equation – a skill I have primed during my study of this subject. Likewise, just as History taught me to see things in perspective, economics elicited my ability to translate theory into practice.

My internship at a local law firm certainly gave me an insight into the real life pressures of work. In particular, it enabled me to understand the need for thorough analysis as I was involved in undertaking research of clients and companies. More importantly, it taught me the importance of having the right information for as in history, having the wrong information may lead to misguided conclusions.Outside of academia, I am a keen musician and sportsman. I have achieved Grade 8 in piano and have also been elected as head of the Sports Committee within the college’s Student Council. This has enhanced my communication skills which in turn have aided my oral development during classroom discussion.

The intention to pursue History at undergraduate level comes after much deliberation. However, A Level history has eroded any doubts in my mind as the learning experiences I have gained has strengthened my passion to delve further into this wonderful arena. I am strongly motivated to continue these studies as this will act as a platform for me to contribute back to a society of which I have freely taken from.


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