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Sophie Wilkinson


Why did you choose Leeds, was it something special about the course, department or place that attracted you?

When I first visited Leeds on a prospective students open day I immediately got a great feeling about the University. The campus has some beautiful spots and it's in a great location between the student area and the city centre. It was reassuring to have a campus which is always full of students whilst also being able to venture in to the city centre whenever I wanted. I applied for the Integrated MEnv and BSc Environmental Science which was quite a special course as it gave me the opportunity to get a Masters level degree in four years, including a guaranteed study year abroad in the first year. I got to choose between universities in Canada, USA and Australia for my year abroad.

The department is quite small compared to others in the university so I found it easier to settle in and feel comfortable as you soon got to know the staff and other students. The Earth and Environment building is really nice and has designated work areas and computers which is much more helpful than you would ever first believe.

What was the best or most memorable thing about your time at Leeds, especially your course (but it can be other things!)?

It's obvious but it would have to be the people I met, the friends I made. There were around 50 of us in my programme and we were a pretty close knit group. I think the fieldwork definitely helps with this, the first trip I went on was just over a month into the course and that's where I met some of the people that became and still are my closest friends. We always managed to have a great time on field work, even in Blencathra in the wind and rain.

How your degree, or the other activities that you were able to participate in while studying, shaped or influenced your career since Graduating?

The opportunity for me to undertake a study year abroad was completely life changing. Whilst at McMaster University in Canada I was able to assist in an Ecohydrology Lab, where I met a professor who's research I was really interested in. After working in the lab for a couple of months I was able to join the research team for a field season in Alberta and collect data which I later wrote up into my Masters dissertation. I really enjoyed the research process and became interested in continuing in academia. I was able to continue my communications with the professor at McMaster University, subsequently I applied and was accepted to start my PhD at McMaster in January of 2016. Without the amazing programme offered by Leeds, their support throughout the exchange process and encouragement in following your chosen career path I would not have ever taken a PhD at McMaster University.

Is there anything that you would like to say to prospective students to encourage them to follow in your footsteps?

Leeds is a great university, there's so much to get involved in, whether this is within your department or through extra-curricular activities such as sports, radio presenting, sustainability, cultural groups and music. Becoming part of the university enables you to have access to an amazing host of facilities, meet lots of like-minded people and experience the fantastic city of Leeds. I couldn't recommend it more.