Much of the structured content that was available throughout the MSc Geoscience Research course enabled me to further my postgraduate studies.
Year studied MSc Geoscience Research
BSc Geology with Physical Geography
PhD student at the University of Leeds
What did you do after graduation and how did you get this job?
After graduation, I began applying for NERC funded PhD projects. However, it was not until July 2017 that I was able to secure a NERC funded position at Leeds University. The opportunity initially presented itself in December 2016 but my application was unsuccessful. However, a secondary round of funding became available in May 2016. This time my application was successful, and after an interview I was offered a scholarship at Leeds University to pursue the PhD project.
What does your job involve?
The project at Leeds is titled “The buried coast: developing novel geophysical techniques to reconstruct coastal landscapes”. The primary objectives are to investigate the applicability of GPR methods in coastal processes and landscape evolution with the aim of providing a detailed, large-scale reconstruction of palaeo-coastal system response to sea-level change. Field campaigns of geophysical survey and borehole sampling will be conducted at a number of sites, including North Wales, southern England and Scotland. I will investigate the range of paleo-coastal geomorphology that can be successfully characterised. Specific objectives include:
- A reconstruction of paleo-coastal geomorphology at target sites.
- Development of methods for optimising techniques of GPR acquisition, processing and interpretation in coastal environments.
- An assessment of the vulnerability of coastal infrastructure to future sea-level rise.
- Laboratory analysis of core samples and comparison with GPR-derived quantities.
Additional aspects of the PhD scholarship will be the dissemination of research; this is achieved through the publication of academic papers and the presentation of work at national/international conferences. There are also opportunities to teach undergraduate students and demonstrate in practical sessions.
What did you learn on the MSc Geoscience Research which helped you get the job, or helps with your role now?
The main factor that I believe helped me to secure a PhD position was that the MSc was primarily research based. Unlike a taught MSc, the research aspect allows the student to tailor and take charge of their very own project. The ability to plan, structure and complete an independent research project is vital if you are to succeed at PhD level. The course provides a fantastic framework in which a student can learn the necessary skills to succeed not just at MSc level, but in any career path they choose to pursue.
Much of the structured content that was available throughout the MSc Geoscience Research course enabled me to further my postgraduate studies. The Generic Research Skills module provided me with the skillset to successfully disseminate my research. This proved pivotal in the interview stage of the PhD application as the practice of disseminating my work to academics and peers ensured I had no problems in doing the same in an interview situation.
After discussing my project with my PhD supervisor, it was clear that I was a suitable candidate for the project due to my knowledge of various geophysical equipment and computer software programs. This experience was as a direct result of the Specific Research Skills module which involved regular meetings and training sessions with Dr Jamie Pringle. These sessions gave me the experience in using a wide variety of geophysical equipment as well as one-to-one guidance on how to process, analyse and interpret geophysical data. The ability to recognise your personal training requirements is a skill that is vital if you are to successfully complete a PhD project and the Specific Research Skills module encourages independent thought and research.
Do you have any advice for current/prospective MSc Geoscience Research students interested in a similar career?
Explore any and every opportunity presented to you during your MSc. Such opportunities could be additional fieldwork, laboratory demonstration, national/international conferences or simply aiding a fellow MSc student in their research. When applying for a PhD these experiences may make you stand out from other candidates. If you have the opportunity to publish/present you research post-MSc, DO IT! This will make you an especially attractive candidate to any potential project supervisor!
My final piece of advice if you are hoping to pursue a PhD would be to start early! Take it from me, you do not want to leave it until the last few months of your MSc and then decide a PhD is where your aspirations lie! Start as early as possible and talk to as many current PhD students as possible and grasp all the opportunities that Keele presents you with!