James Bailey

James Bailey

Why did you decide to study a masters at the University of Leeds?

I had recently graduated from an undergraduate degree which coincided with the start of COVID and soon after started looking for jobs discovered they were few and far between and also required a more specific qualification. The part-time distance learning course at Leeds allowed me to continue my long-term career progression and gave me both a career-targeted course to study while locked down but also the flexibility to pursue other activities with easing restrictions.

What has been the best aspect of studying on your course and with the University so far and why?

The welcoming and open nature of all the University and course staff I have come across so far. I’ve always been made to feel like a priority and a member of the University despite never stepping foot in it – and this began even during the application process!

Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have been involved with.

I have been the course rep for almost a year and a half now. This has allowed me to get to know certain staff members better and given both myself, and everyone on the course a chance to positively affect it – I am the first rep the course has had.

The global nature of the course with students based across multiple continents allows you to consider topics on a larger-than-typical scale. Yammer discussions often include articles from new cultures and vastly different geographies. It has also allowed me to investigate topics close to my home, with a recent project looking at slope instability near the site of the 1966 Aberfan disaster.

Why did you decide to study on an online course and what have been the advantages of working remotely?

I decided on an online course mostly because of the flexibility it provides which was particularly positive during the uncertain first year or so of the COVID pandemic. It turned out to be a great decision and the course had wildly exceeded my expectations! The main advantages for me are how it has allowed me to continue my development both personally and professionally. I find the online element really encourages you to work more independently and solve problems by yourself. This is absolutely supported by the staff who are always more than willing to offer help where needed.

What are your ambitions for the future?

My ambitions are to (co)own multiple companies at some point in the future and I believe this course has helped not just with industry skills, but vastly improved my time management skills. I’m currently working 2 jobs as well as completing the course and being course rep. I plan to enter the industry for a few years to both implement and hone in on the skills learnt at Leeds before venturing off into the world of GIS consulting.

What have you learned on your course that you think will help you in your future career?

As I mention above, my time management skills have greatly improved as well as my industry skills. I had used ArcGIS before, during my undergraduate degree, but have over doubled my exposure to different tools, analyses and manipulations within GIS in comparatively very little time.

The main thing I have learnt is that there are many applications to the same tool within GIS. It’s just about thinking outside of the box and applying tools to different topics and analyses.

What would you say to students coming to do the same course?

Throw yourself into it. As cliché as it is: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Try to get to know the staff as much as you can – I’ve been amazed by how much this is possible even on an online course.

In a sentence, I would say: be excited, it’s a very fulfilling and rewarding course with a great balance of study material to challenge everyone along the way, also allowing you to easily explore your interests within broader module topics.