Halloween in the UK

Halloween picture

Halloween is celebrated across the UK on 31st October. It used to be called All Hallows Eve; the day before All Saints Day, which is observed on 1st November. Halloween’s origins lie in the pagan festivals traditionally held at the end of October across the British Isles. The Samhain festival, observed on this day, was the most significant of the Celtic year, marking the beginning of winter. It was believed the people who had died in the previous year made their journey into the Otherworld; animals, fruits and vegetables were sacrificed and bonfires lit to aid the spirits on their way. People believed the veil between this world and the Otherworld was at its thinnest on Samhain and so the spirits of dead people could return to walk among the living for one night a year. To ward off any spirits, people only ventured outside in spooky or ghostly costumes.

Today, as a result of this pagan tradition, many people in the UK host Halloween parties where guests are invited to dress up – usually as skeletons, ghosts, vampires or other scary figures. Many people also play apple bobbing, where a bucket filled with water and some apples. Players take it in turns to catch an apple between their teeth, with their hands held behind their back at all times. It’s great fun and you should give it a try if you have the chance. Traditionally the first person to catch an apple will be the next person to get married!

Other popular symbols of the festival include bats, spiders and pumpkins. People carve pumpkins which are lit by a candle inside and called Jack O’ Lanterns. The tradition stems from Irish folklore. The tale goes that a clever but lazy man called Jack was due to die on Halloween. When the devil came to collect his soul, Jack tricked him into turning himself into a shilling. Jack instantly grabbed the coin with his hand, which bore a cross-shaped scar, and trapped the devil inside. He only agreed to let the devil out if he granted him one more year of life. After returning one year later, the next Halloween, Jack tricked the devil again. This time it was into climbing into a tree which Jack then carved a cross on, trapping the devil inside. He only set the devil free after he agreed to give Jack ten more years of life. When Jack eventually died, St. Peter refused to grant him entry into heaven, as he had never performed a selfless act in his life and a seething Satan refused to claim his soul. The devil tossed a burning coal into a hollowed out pumpkin and he banished Jack to wander the world forever. You may spot his pumpkin on Halloween night!

Whatever you are doing, I hope you have a spectacularly spooky Halloween!

A guest post by David Heffer – a student ambassador helping in the International Office. 


Connect to MMU: Immigration

Nicola Ross, the Immigration and Welfare Manager at Manchester Metropolitan University delivered an excellent webinar giving an overview of the Tier 4 (General) visa application process.

You can watch a recording of the Immigration webinar here. 

In the webinar, Nicola explained the process you will need to follow if you want to come to study in the UK:
•Application (why not watch our Applying to MMU webinar to find out how to make a successful application?)
•Meet any conditions & pay deposit
•CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies)
•Apply for your Tier 4 (General) visa



How to…write an outstanding personal statement

Wordle: Personal statement

How to…write an outstanding personal statement

We all know that the key to securing that elusive university place is standing out from the crowd, but if everyone else has great exam results too, how can you make your application stand out?

Well, it is all in the personal statement. Your personal statement is your chance to shine and show your personality.

Don’t waste this opportunity, use these top ten tips to write an outstanding
personal statement.

ONE: It is important that your personal statement has a sensible structure. What university will offer you a place if your personal statement is more like a word-search than an intelligent outline of what you have to offer? Some rules for a good structure include:

  • Punctuation – use capital letters at the start of sentences and full stops at the end.
  • Succinct and concise – do not use 100 words to say something when 10 would do the job. Your statement should be no more than one A4 page if applying directly, or less than 4,000 characters (or 47 lines) if applying through UCAS.
  • Sentences – As much as possible, sentences should be fewer than 20 words.
  • Spelling – Your excellent exam results will not help you if you make spelling mistakes in your personal statement. Computers have spell-check for a reason!

TWO: The first section of your personal statement should introduce the reasons you want to study the course you are applying for. Think hard about why you want to study this course. A good reason to want to study Economics might be that the global financial crisis has horrified you so you want to learn more about its origins. A bad reason to want to study Economics is wanting to learn more about the human body.

THREE: If you are already taking the subject you hope to study at university, you should explain how you have engaged with the subject. What areas have you loved studying? What things do you want to learn more about? If you have not had the chance to study your degree subject yet, think about the way in which your school classes link to it. For example, you might want to study Sport because you have been interested in aerobic respiration and lactic acid in Biology.

FOUR: Explain how you have pursued the subject you are applying for outside of school. Have you read books about the subject? Do you subscribe to a related blog? Perhaps you have attended a relevant talk? If you cannot wait to forget all about your subject as soon as the bell rings at the end of the school day it might be time to rethink your choice. Admissions tutors are going to question your dedication to your subject if you are more committed to your games console!

FIVE: Include a section about your work experience. While relevant work experience is an excellent way to show you are serious about your course, even unrelated work experience shows that you are reliable and responsible.

SIX: Now it is time to talk about all of your interesting extra-curricular activities. Tell us about your weekends spent rock climbing or volunteering at a hospice. Try to think of the skills and interests you have that make you a bit different from everyone else; admissions tutors will not want to hear about another person who “enjoys spending time with friends”.

SEVEN: The conclusion of your personal statement should reiterate the reasons that the university should make you an offer. Sum up your passion for the subject and the ways in which you would be an asset to the university. If you are applying directly to the university this is a great opportunity to explain why you want to attend this university specifically. You should also sum up what you hope to achieve in your future after you complete the programme, as well as what you intend to do after graduation. (Remember, do not do this if you are applying through UCAS – your personal statement is sent to all the universities you are applying to!)

EIGHT: The biggest personal statement no-no is plagiarism. Not only is copying, unfair and dishonest, but you will probably be caught, and then you certainly will not be offered a place. UCAS, and many universities, now use computer software that highlights sentences and phrases that they have seen before. There are many resources to help with writing a personal statement, so do not use the cheat’s route.

NINE: Make sure you proofread your personal statement. Many times. Many many times. You just can’t check it too many times. Ask your Mum to read it. Ask your Dad to read it. Ask your aunt’s neighbour’s dog to read it! There are mistakes that the spellcheck on your computer will not pick up, and silly errors do not make a good impression on admissions tutors.

TEN: Remember, lots of universities do not interview prospective students, so your application is your only chance to wow the admissions tutors, and your personal statement is an important part of that.

So, there we have it; the top ten tips to writing a personal statement. Check out our post about making a strong application to university to find out how else to improve your chances of an offer.

If you have any further tips we’d love to hear about them in the comments section. Or, if you have personal statement questions of your own feel free to ask here.

How to… make a good application to university

App process 2

Submitting an application can be daunting. In this post I outline the information you need to include and provide handy tips for submitting a good application.

How to get Step 1 right and SUBMIT A GOOD APPLICATION:

To apply for undergraduate courses you apply through UCAS, to apply for postgraduate courses you can apply DIRECT to the university. However you submit your application, the university still requires the same information from you, including:

  • Up-to-date details about your education history
  • Evidence of your English language proficiency
  • References from a recent teacher, or somebody who knows you professionally
  • A personal statement about why you want to study your chosen course
  • Some basic personal information including contact details

Your application is the SUM TOTAL of everything the university knows about you!

At this stage your application is the only evidence the university has to assess your eligibility for your chosen course.  In addition to providing the basic information there are lots of things you can do to make a good impression from your application. From my years of experience advising potential students at MMU I have listed my top dos and don’ts you can follow to give your application the best chance of success.


  • Make sure all your supporting documents are submitted with your application. If the admissions team need to request further evidence from you this will slow down the process. Your application will be on hold until those documents are submitted.
  • Make sure your contact details are correct so the university can keep in touch and send the decision to you directly.
  • Send us your transcript with marks to date or predicated grades if you are still studying for a qualification.
  • Take time over your personal statement, this is your chance to sell yourself.
  • Contact your referees in advance, as they are often busy and waiting for references can slow down the process.
  • Take this opportunity to demonstrate your competency in English. Check your grammar and spelling in all your responses.
  • Use your reference number in all communications with the university


  • Leave any suspicious unexplained gaps in your education or work history. E.g. If you have been travelling for six months let us know.
  • Miss the opportunity to have a friend or family member review your application before you submit. It’s always good to have a fresh pair of eyes check your work.

Remember: Universities are looking for reasons to make you an offer, so sell yourself, submit a good application.

Connect to MMU: Applying to MMU

On Tuesday we hosted a webinar from our friendly International Admissions team, who gave a great presentation about how to make a successful application to the University.

Watch the recording of “How to successfully apply to MMU”.

Our next couple of posts will summarise what we learnt from the International Admissions team, and give you some hints and tips to give yourself the best chance of receiving an offer from Manchester Metropolitan University.

How to… make a good application to university

How to… write an outstanding personal statement

Connect to MMU

Here at MMU International we understand that choosing to study in another country is a huge decision to make, especially if you haven’t had a chance to visit the institution of your choice.

So, we have launched a series of events which give you a taste of student life at Manchester Metropolitan University, without you having to leave your home town!

Here is the schedule of events over the coming months; keep checking back for a three day Connect to MMU extravaganza in November, where we will be hosting web chats with academics from all our faculties.

If you missed our Live Tour of the Student Hub on Tuesday, you can watch it again here:


Why not also listen to our webinar about all the exciting changes taking place at MMU in 2014.

Coming up over the next couple of weeks we have a webinars from our Admissions team, about how to make a successful application to the University, and our Immigration and Welfare team, all about visas. Register for these events here.

MMU shoots up league tables!

Manchester Metropolitan University has improved significantly in a number of national university league tables, and this trend is expected to continue in coming years.

The Good University Guide, a joint venture between The Times and Sunday Times newspapers, published this week, saw MMU leap 13 places to 89th. In May, the Guardian’s version placed MMU at 93rd, an improvement of 15 places.

These scores complement MMU’s excellent results in the National Student Survey, with 84% of MMU students satisfied with their academic experience. In addition, there has been an increase in students achieving good honours (up from 58.5% to 61.8%) and completing their course (an improvement from 77.3% to 81%).

In specific subject areas, MMU shined even brighter; Education remains at 14th out of 71 providers; Architecture at 13th out of 46, and our top subject area is Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation and Tourism – 6th out of 49.