Ben Craven, MSc Structural Geology with Geophysics alumni

Ben Craven


Why did you decide to study a masters at Leeds?

During my undergraduate degree I realised that the structural questions were the ones I found most satisfying to solve: thinking in 3D; drawing maps and testing cross sections; and thinking about the mechanical behaviour of sediments and rocks over time.

As I’ve never really known what I wanted to do in the future, I wanted to continue to pursue what I found intellectually interesting. Seeing that Leeds offered an MSc in Structural Geology covering these things from a geological perspective rather than a strictly applied viewpoint really struck a chord.

What was the best aspect of studying your course, and why?

Masters courses are hard, let no-one tell you otherwise. Nevertheless, it is a difficulty that is extremely satisfying to stay on top of and work within and it meant we all banded together as good friends.

Fortunately too, the variety of modules satisfied all those things that has attracted me in the first place and kept me interested throughout. By focusing on the geology and mechanics, rather just the application of the knowledge, I finished the course feeling well-rounded and able to apply myself to a range of things.

Tell us about some of the exciting projects that you completed?

The best project on the course is definitely the summer project. I went to an open cast coal mine in Glasgow to do some field work and retrieve a dataset, then worked with a software company, the British Geological Survey, and the mine owners to redraw a mapped area of geology that they were working in. It was challenging but a lot of fun to guide my own project and come up with some interesting conclusions.

I also really enjoyed the fieldwork we did down in Cornwall and Somerset (and not just for the cider!) The mechanical forces that have acted in the south of England are truly spectacular, and a week spent trying to untangle it all was wonderful. It didn’t even rain too much.

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

The one thing everyone likes about Leeds is how compact it is. You can walk or cycle pretty much anywhere and there are so many places when you do. Whilst Leeds doesn’t have a long history it certainly is fully packed, and one it’s only becoming more interesting with more and more businesses and opportunities moving in.

As Leeds sits centrally in the UK it’s very easy to get to and from other major cities like London and Edinburgh, but it also sits so close to the Yorkshire Dales, Moors and Lake District that it’s very easy to spend a Saturday shopping on Oxford Street then Sunday up a mountain. Whatever you’re into, there’s something for you. I think we even have a sky diving society…

What are you doing now and how did your experience on the course help you with your current role?

I was very fortunate to be offered a job by the very course I had just completed; helping support each year of new students with the specialist software that we use. Obviously having done the course was a huge help to this, but not just because I knew the material: the course also taught me skills for presentation and public speaking which are naturally hugely useful when teaching!

What would you say to students thinking of applying for the same course?

The best advice I was ever given was to do what you love. Because if you do what you love, no matter where it takes you, at least you’re happy. If you love structural geology and want to do more of it, this is the course for you.