James Bone

James Bone

James Bone came up from Cambridge to a School of Earth and Environment open day and was impressed by the range and quality of facilities for students. “I loved the large sports centre, the students’ union with its amazing array of shops and bars, and the massive choice of shops and nightlife in the city itself, too, as I was keen to be able to see plenty of live music,” he says. But James chose Leeds because of the strong reputation of the university, the department and the BSc programme in Environmental Science. He says, “The interdisciplinary nature of the course offered me a better chance to study both scientific and social science modules than courses elsewhere.”

“I chose modules from a broad selection of topics from oceanography, physics, and climate change to environment and business, environmental law, and resource efficiency and eco design. I was inspired by modules such as Energy Science and Policy and for my final year project I worked with a manufacturer of domestic combined heat and power units, working out the carbon dioxide reduction and cost savings from using the equipment.”

James gained experience with the practical skills required by environmental consultancies from his coursework. “We carried out environmental audits, one of them a group assessment of the Chemistry building at Leeds”, he says. “On our second-year field trip to the Lake District, I was able to put my theoretical knowledge into practice, investigating acid mine drainage, which later inspired my MSc course and now my PhD.”

Nostalgia for his first-year field trip may seem a little misplaced - counting trees and measuring the noise from wind farms on a freezing cold - and wet - hillside outside Halifax, “but then we went back to the bar where we were staying to warm up!  Camping at Flamborough Head with friends from my course and my hall of residence was great too, and soaking up the sun in Hyde Park with half the University population,” says James. “I had no major problems but it was good to know that the department had a great support structure if I needed it.”

“At school I considered a career in IT Management but didn’t relish the thought of being stuck in an office every day. I became interested in environmental science because of an A-level module in environmental chemistry, and then I spent my gap year working for an environmental consultancy where I was able to talk to the consultants about their projects,” James told us. There are careers opportunities for Environmental Sciences graduates in a variety of specialist areas. The work may focus on one specific aspect or on a variety that changes daily. “Many jobs involve fieldwork or interesting site visits, an aspect that particularly appealed to me, and I know that my decision to develop a career as an Environmental Scientist was the right one,” says James.

After graduating, James was employed by an environmental consultancy where he studied soil and groundwater at contaminated sites across the country, interpreting his findings for clients. “This led me to take the MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College, London,” says James, “and I found that the wide scope of my BSc from Leeds was excellent preparation for studying at Masters level.”  James became involved in a National-Lottery-funded Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) project looking at soil and earthworms for the National Soil Centre and was invited to carry on his research at PhD level.  “I’m now doing research into methods of identifying and combating soil degradation with an emphasis on the effect of human impacts.”

“The transferable skills that I developed on my Environmental Science degree are serving me well in my PhD – I carried out research for my final-year dissertation and other pieces of coursework, developed my presentation skills throughout the course, and took integral modules in statistical methods and maths. The solid, broad-based environmental knowledge and professional skills I developed help to set my current research in context and I’m able to work confidently alongside environmental regulators, academics and industry.“

“My PhD will give me options to work in environmental policy or in the industry and I plan to continue learning throughout my career, and to achieve chartered status in the near future.”