Robert Collins

Robert Collins

What course are you studying?

I am studying for my masters in River Basin Dynamics and Management with Geographical Information Systems

Why did you decide to study a masters at the University of Leeds?

I began looking for masters degrees near the end of my undergraduate course. When I found this course offered by Leeds I was immediately interested because of the high quality research within the department that I had heard about. I was also particularly interested in the options within the programme to pick a wide variety of modules often not offered on similar courses. 

What has been the best aspect of studying on your course and at the University so far and why?

Within my course I've enjoyed how modules have combined fieldwork with lab teaching, which has allowed me to get to know fellow students in a different environment to just in a lecture hall. It's also been refreshing to meet students who have come from a variety of universities before, both in the UK and abroad. 

Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed.

There has been a wide variety of projects during my masters. In the first semester, I had a chance to learn programming, this culminated in an individual project where I developed a tool that can be used to model flood flows across a landscape automatically. This tool would be useful in the real world assisting in NGO preparation for flood events. 

I also enjoyed working on a water quality project at Ingbirchworth Reservoir. This followed on from critical research by the department and allowed me to understand the crucial role that long term studies have. This project involved investigating for agricultural pollutants, such as pesticides, to assess if the catchment is improving with best management practices. 

I've recently been working on my dissertation, involving the use of large woody debris as a natural flood management tool near Hebden Bridge (Yorkshire) and Lyndhurst (Hampshire). I'm hoping that this study will provide assistance when deciding on future approaches to protecting local communities. 

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

The city is incredibly active, there's always something going on. There's a huge variety of places to go to eat or grab a drink and you always feel you're close to other students. 

What are your ambitions for the future?

I will be moving into a job developing further my 'Geographic Information System' skillset, this covers mapping and spatial analysis. I hope to help bring a new approach and help deal with geographical issues whether for a large firm or for an NGO in the future. This is an interesting time to be entering the field, with climate change, water scarcity and overpopulation all key issues developing across the globe that could benefit from GIS improvements.

What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?

I have had the opportunity to work alone and in a group setting during this course, allowing me to grow in confidence which will help me cope with projects in my future career. I have also developed my understanding of new software and modelling, which I know will be valued in a number of different career paths. Having this understanding will be a strong base for continuing my learning in a professional environment. 

What would you say to students coming to do the same course?

Along with recommending enjoying the variety of sports, societies and activities offered by the university and the union, I would suggest making the course your own by picking modules you wouldn't have had the chance to study before. The opportunity to embrace to different aspects of a subject can offer new insights when working on essays, fieldwork and projects throughout the course.