Will James

Will James

Supervisors: Dr Duncan Quincey, Dr Jonathan Carrivick
Funding: National Research Council (NERC)

Why did you decide to study for a PhD, and why Leeds?

I have always been interested in physical geography, studying for both an undergraduate and masters’ degree in the School of Geography at Leeds. It was during this time that I was introduced to some inspirational people and places. I was lucky enough to participate on the New Zealand field trip as an undergraduate and was amazed by the country, knowing one day I wanted to return. I remember speaking to one of the lecturers on the field trip about the possibility of designing a project there and a few years later we were lucky enough to secure funding for it!

What is your experience of PhD study in the School and what skills have you learnt?

I have learnt a variety of skills during my PhD - ranging from computer programming to flying a remote control helicopter over a glacier! It’s been great fun; sure there are some tedious days in the office but the opportunities to travel and work to your own schedule and interests more than make up for them. The School of Geography is a great place to study – all the staff are very friendly and it’s exciting to be working with other PhD students studying a wide range of interesting projects all around the world. There are loads of exciting opportunities for PhD students – I have been on a training course in Canada and will shortly be presenting my work in Vienna!

What are your career aspirations?

Having a PhD really sets you apart as a candidate in the job market as you develop so many more skills than just academic writing. It proves you are able to work both on your own and as part of a team and are able to solve complex problems. My main career aspiration is to use the skills I have learnt to good effect. Whether this is in the form of staying in academia and eventually lecturing or working in the industry I am undecided. The School of Geography really encourages students to network and collaborate with researchers from different institutions and industries, many of who may be future employers! 

What would you say to someone who may be considering studying a PhD in the School of Geography?

It needs to be something you are passionate about – three years is a long time to spend on one project! There is usually scope to develop the advertised PhD projects to fit your skillset/interests, something I highly recommend doing if you can. Supervisors at Leeds are always on the lookout for potential applicants so if you have an idea arrange to have an informal chat with them to see if it would be possible.