School of Physics and Astronomy

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Andrew Harvie

MPhys Physics with Nanotechnology

Why did you choose to study Physics?
Physics not only allows us to develop new technologies to improve people’s quality of life, but also gives us a basic understanding of how nature works; I find this interesting. It is also a degree which in general has very good career prospects.

What attracted you to the University of Leeds?
I chose Leeds because the physics department does research in which I am interested; specifically biological and molecular physics. I feel it is important to choose somewhere that does interesting research (for a physics degree) as a student will be doing real research in their third or fourth year as part of a group within the department. I also like the location of the campus – near a good city centre but also within cycling distance of the Yorkshire dales.

Did you visit us on an open day? Did you find that experience helpful in making your decision?
I did come on an open day; I found being able to chat to academics helpful in understanding how the department works and what they do here.

Has your course lived up to your expectations so far?
Definitely. I am currently doing research in a subject which I very much enjoy, and I feel that both my mathematical skills and, more importantly my physical intuition have improved hugely.

Which aspect of Physics do you find the most interesting? 
My favourite area of physics is that which explores interactions between molecules in complex fluids, and how it is possible to probe these interactions with modern optical techniques.

How would you describe your lecturers and tutors?
They are all very enthusiastic about their subjects and are therefore always happy to help and give advice. Most lecturers employ a casual open-door policy and are not averse to receiving visits asking for help with problems or other advice.

Have you taken advantage of the flexibility of your course and enrolled in any discovery modules outside of physics? 
Yes, in fact in my third year I took a computer programming module from the school of computing where I learned programming in python.  This has helped me by providing skills I have used in my current masters project.

Can you explain a day in the life of a physics student?
Usually in for 9 or 10 am. Attend 4 or 5 lectures throughout the day. In the early years of the degree you may attend an extended lab session; third or fourth years may use the time between lectures to visit research labs to work on their individual projects. I would usually leave at about 4 or 5 pm, in time to have an early tea.

How would you describe student life at Leeds?
Vibrant and exciting. Students in general live in one or two “student areas” so whoever your housemates are you will be living near a good number of your friends. Nightlife is excellent for students with many places doing special student discounts. The student union provides a major hub for student life with clubs and societies as well as social spaces.

Have you joined any clubs and societies on campus? 
Yes, I joined the mountaineering society with whom I have been on a few trips and the physics society who recently organised a trip to CERN where the LHC is located.

Do you have an idea of what you might like to do at the end of your course?
When my course finishes I am going to continue on at Leeds studying for a PhD in the same department. This has already been confirmed. I’ll be working on using quantum dots to probe chemistry within cells.