Image of School of Geography Masters student Claire Kobold-Vettraino in the Yorkshire countryside.

Claire Kobold-Vettraino

Claire Kobold-Vettraino is a University of Leeds alumnus who studied Geographical Information Systems MSc at the School of Geography.

After attending the University of St Andrews, Claire Kobold-Vettraino knew she wanted to pursue post-graduate study, but wasn’t sure where. She researched various options, being drawn to the MSc Geographical Information Systems (GIS) at the University of Leeds and the modules the course offered.  

Claire was particularly interested in how the course specialised in different elements of GIS – ranging from web-based to geodemographics – and visited the campus to find out more. 

“After visiting the Leeds campus, seeing the geography department and the facilities available, I knew I wanted to study here. My husband’s brother also attended Leeds and after hearing great things about the university from him, I felt even more secure in my decision to attend the University of Leeds.” 

Image of GIS masters student Claire Kobold Vettraino at the Royal Armouries in Leeds


A mix of interests 

An introductory module to GIS during her undergraduate studies piqued Claire’s interest in the subject, especially as it seemed to offer a mix of disciplines that appealed to her. 

Having severe dyslexia as a child and finding it difficult to read as a result, I have always been interested in visual elements, like flowcharts, pictures, and maps. As a result, I have always been very creative and hoped I would find a subject that would allow me to be both creative and analytical.

I think of GIS as a mix of art and science, and so studying GIS allowed me to do this. I have greatly enjoyed studying GIS, especially at Leeds, and have enjoyed pursuing independent research that interests me.

Claire Kobold-Vettraino 

Tailored study 

The course offers a range of modules, allowing students to tailor their own learning. Two of the assignments that Claire especially enjoyed enabled her to choose her own topic of study. 

“The first assignment I really enjoyed was for the module ‘GIS and the Environment.’ For this assignment, I was able to use a viewshed software developed by the module lecturer, Dr Steve Carver, to look at the effect of river visibility on household prices in Liverpool. I found this assignment really fun because it allowed me to explore a topic I was interested in, while utilising software I otherwise would not have access to. 

“My second favorite assignment was for the module ‘Geodemographics and neighborhood analysis.’ For this assignment, I analysed the current distribution of British Chiropractic Association practices across England, determined the demographic associated with the practice locations, and suggested locations for future practices to be placed. This assignment was fun to write because it allowed me to act as a consultant and tailor my report so that the client could easily read and understand it.” 

Inspiring teaching 

Claire said the quality of the facilities and the level of teaching were among the reasons she enjoyed studying GIS at Leeds so much. 

“The faculty are passionate and knowledgeable about what they teach, and it shows in how they provide guidance and support throughout the program. The faculty really cared about us and wanted us to succeed. In addition, the GIS Masters program has a computer lab which has the software we used on the course. It’s so great that there’s a private computer lab just for Masters students in the school, as it provides a place to collaborate and study.” 

Research aspirations 

Having previously studied GIS techniques for her undergraduate dissertation, Claire built on her work for her Masters dissertation, with a view to having her research published.  

For my undergraduate dissertation from the University of St Andrews, I conducted a spatial analysis of school shooting severity in the United States using a geographically weighted regression (GWR). This study was very interesting, and it was the first time I conducted my own research – turns out I really like it!

Claire Kobold-Vettraino

“My Masters dissertation utilised a GWR to explore the relationship between area characteristics and multiple sclerosis (MS) prevalence and severity in England. I am very excited about this research as I worked with the UK MS Register’s data and am hoping the findings will be published.” 

A bright future 

Claire is already making plans for her future career, taking a graduate position with a high-profile UK company.  

“I recently started a graduate scheme in IT and Business Services at Network Rail and am hoping to gain more practical experience working with clients. My dream GIS job would be to use GIS in the field of health and healthcare to better allocate healthcare resources.” 

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