Alice O'Rourke

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

I did my undergraduate degree in English and Sociology at the University of Leeds, and wished to continue my studied to help build a platform for a career in the charity sector. The interdisciplinary aspect of the degree attracted me and I could combine my interest in international development and sustainability with my background in social sciences. I was also very interested in the varied modules I could take.

What did your course involve? 

I had the fantastic opportunity to study diverse subjects including the physical science of climate change, development theories, strategies and issues, and environmental governance. I also went on the field course aimed at environment-development students to the East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, which was an eye-opening experience and encouraged me to build more international experiences.

How have you benefited from your course? 

I have met great friends, especially during my time on the overseas field course, and really encouraged to challenge myself in the future in engaging with sustainability issues. I could not do that with my undergraduate degree alone. The greatest benefit for me is finding my own personal interests within the field of sustainability.

What stands out for you about your time at School of Earth and Environment? 

Yes. I have learnt so much that I could not have done otherwise, under support and guidance from tutors. As an English and sociology student previously, I was at first concerned about how challenging the course would be, but students have the chance to guide themselves using their own strengths and interests. I have learnt a lot about myself as well as strengthening my commitment to sustainability.

What are you doing now?

I have accepted a job as the North West project assistant for an NGO called the Construction Youth Trust (, which aims to support and empower young people to enter training and employment in the construction industry in the UK. I will be involved with other organisations such as the Youth Justice Board, and hope to implement my knowledge of sustainability when assisting with projects. I’m hoping to gain skills that can further my career in sustainability focussed on developing countries.

What are your future career goals?

In the future, I hope to move into research or project assistance for sustainable development in developing countries. I am considering moving into PhD study as I’m passionate about research and wish to gain specialist knowledge so I can contribute to sustainable development that empowers the most vulnerable communities.