How to write a Motivation Letter

My first lecture during PhD

Talha Hanif Butt
4 min readApr 13


So, I have just given my lecture as part of a module of a compulsory course which I am taking.

The task was to design and deliver a lecture on a topic of our choice using active learning which means to engage the audience in some form of activity instead of just delivering a lecture using slides.

I chose the topic of How to write a Motivation Letter. The reason for choosing the topic was that I felt wherever I go I will need a Motivation Letter as a requirement for the application and it would be interesting to get to know different perspectives regarding writing one. We had 20 minutes. So I designed my lecture as follows:

5 min — Lecture on what a motivation letter is/ should have/ importance
10 min — Analysis of a Motivation Letter by the audience
5 min — Discussion on what was good/ bad about the letter

I reached the class at around 9, the lecture was to start at 10:15, I had time so I started filling the white board about my ideas regarding my lecture.

I started off by writing the difference between a CV and a Motivation Letter which is that a CV tells what a person did while a Motivation Letter tells why the person did so.

Then I followed it up with 2 basic questions that a Motivation Letter answers which are:

Why you want to work on a particular project/ in a particular organization/ at a particular position?

Why the organization should hire you?

Then I moved on to what should be the length of the letter? It varies but 1 to 2 pages are enough.

What about the structure, the structure is as follows:



Now what should be in the introduction? It should be the connection of the position to the bigger goal to be achieved. In my case it’s to build an end-to-end model for autonomous driving.


It should include how you got introduced to the field? Your education, courses you have taken, projects you have worked on, work experience, publications, open source contributions, article writing, youtube demos etc.

It should include the reasons for choosing that particular organization, it can be research, some particular professor, facilities, environment, money, tax free state etc.


It should summarize your work in the last 5 years and how you can contribute to the position and what do you plan in future, it might be a start-up, post-doc etc.

The white board had 3 parts, the above details took 2 of them, one was still free so I decided to fill it up with what I had regarding the blocks described above which is as follows:

Starting off with my interest in Computer Vision, following it with the goal of an end-to-end model for autonomous driving motivated from Alpha Zero algorithm which I had previously implemented.

Then it was my education and courses which I had taken including Digital Image Processing, Data Mining, Deep Learning, CS-231n Stanford.

Following it with my Final Year Project on Nerve Segmentation, 2 Years at ReVeaL Lab working on Alpha Zero on Tic Tac Toe and Autonomous Driving in Car Simulations (steering angle prediction).

An internship at VisPro Lab working on an indoor self driving car. Working as an MS-Thesis student at CVGL having 2 publications on Cross-View Image Retrieval and Camera Calibration respectively. I had worked as an ML-Engineer at KK Networks and Geeklone Technology.

I had 3 open source implementations, one was the implementation of my thesis work along with the dataset. One was my implementation of the Alpha Zero algorithm on Tic Tac Toe. The third was an implementation of a YOLO-v3 based cyclist detection algorithm.

I had been writing articles on medium from 2019 and had covered different topics regarding Computer Vision and other fields.

I had some video demos of my projects available on YouTube.

These details took the complete white board and around 45 minutes to fill it.

Then the lecture started at 10:15. I started with a disclaimer that I don’t follow any rules and this is what I think is right.

Described the above points to the audience for about 5–6 minutes. Told them to go through my own Motivation Letter which I had written for my application to Halmstad University and told them that it took me 6 minutes to read through it. After about 6 minutes I asked each of the participants about their views on the letter and provided clarification if needed regarding the reason of me choosing to write a particular project in my letter.

In the end it is a combination of your profile and luck. The thing is that the selectors need to select only from what they have got through the application pool. I feel I was lucky to get selected for the position.

That´s it for now. See you later. You can find my Motivation Letter here:



Talha Hanif Butt

PhD Student -- Signal and Systems Engineering, Halmstad University, Volvo Trucks