Image of alumna Alice Smith

Alice Smith

Why did you choose to study your particular course and why did you choose the University of Leeds?

I decided to pursue geophysics due to studying volcanoes at A-level and getting excited by the prospect of getting an understanding of inner earth mechanics and how this affects processes on the surface. Out of all of the universities I visited, Leeds stood out due to providing a course entirely dedicated to geophysics, with the option to branch into similar disciplines, rather than merged with another science from the onset. 

Due to missing the open day, I arranged a visit to the School of Earth and Environment, receiving a friendly and informative tour of the department. 

What was the best aspect of your course?

I really enjoy working outside, so having the ability to go to so many places for fieldwork was really enjoyable. Not only did we get to see some really cool bits of geology and learn how to use a variety of geophysical equipment, it also wasn’t always raining! Nearing the end of the degree we went to Lanzarote, which as well as working as a group with minimal external input, we had the opportunity to get to know the lecturers better, before starting our final year projects.

Your career

What have you been doing since finishing your studies?

After graduating from Leeds, I took a few months out and briefly worked as a rope access technician, before applying for geophysics and geotechnical jobs. Since starting as a Geo-environmental engineer I have become a fellow of the geological society, attending relevant courses and training.

Tell us a little about your job and what it involves.

I am working for PWA Geo-Environmental, a small consultancy based near Skipton, North Yorkshire. My role as a Geo-environmental engineer has involved organising and carrying out fieldwork, as well as compiling phase 1 and 2 site investigation reports. 

What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career?

Being exposed to fieldwork in a variety of environments, both glorious sunshine and rain, helped with preparing for following a fieldwork-based career. The engineering geology module has also proven invaluable for building my geotechnical knowledge.

Your Year Abroad

Where did you study abroad?

I chose to pursue an integrated Masters degree which meant spending my third year overseas at Western University, Canada.

What was the best aspect of studying abroad?

I enjoyed having the ability to study graduate courses at Western, as well as those which varied from what was available at Leeds due to differing levels of applicability. It was also fantastic having access to the facilities for international students, which ended up being a great way to meet new friends, learn about different cultures and try new activities that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.

Do you have any advice for students considering studying abroad?

Studying and living abroad for a year is a fantastic experience which provides so many experiences which you wouldn’t have if you stayed in the UK. 

With regard to finding a university to study at, don’t just pick the university for a single reason, of course you should look at the modules available, but also have a look at the extra-curricular activities you could do for when you need to escape from studying for a bit.

What activities outside of your studies were you involved in?

The activities I got involved in at Uni varied quite a lot between Leeds and Canada – in Leeds, the caving society became my family, but in Canada, the international café became the place to meet friendly faces on a weekly basis and resulted in being invited to Chinese new year celebrations and having a go at salsa dancing.

Why study at Leeds?

What would you say to students thinking about studying your course?

I thoroughly enjoyed studying Geophysics at Leeds, not only has it been a great experience academically providing a strong background for a variety of jobs, but the University has also provided the facility to join extracurricular societies which I will continue to be a part of for years to come.