School of Physics and Astronomy

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Tom Watts

MPhys Physics with Astrophysics

Why did you choose to study Physics?
I’ve always been interested in how things work, both man-made objects and natural phenomenon. The opportunity to study physics to a much higher level than was possible at school, gaining a deeper insight into the world around us in the process, was too appealing to turn down.

What attracted you to the University of Leeds?
When I first visited I just felt at home here. The city is great, the University as a whole has a brilliant reputation and the School of Physics and Astronomy itself felt very welcoming. It doesn’t feel like you’re just a student, it feels like you are a member of the School of Physics and Astronomy.

Did you visit us on an open day? Did you find that experience helpful in making your decision?
I did, and it was definitely the factor that influenced my decision to apply to Leeds as my first choice the most. Nothing on any website or prospectus can replace the “feel” you get when you actually visit somewhere. 

Has your course lived up to your expectations so far?
I’ve loved pretty much every minute of it. There’s never a boring day, so every morning you wake up knowing that you’re going to get up and learn something new and exciting. It certainly gives you the motivation to get up on a cold winters morning.

What do you enjoy most about your course?
I love how varied it is. In a single day you could be learning in lectures about the formation of the solar system and Einstein’s theory of relativity, as well as measuring for yourself the value of the charge on an electron in a laboratory session.

Which aspect of Physics do you find the most interesting? 
Astrophysics, it never fails to amaze me just how much we can learn about objects located billions of light-years away just from a few photons. With astrophysics you can take something that is on the other side of the universe and study it as if it was just in front of you.

How would you describe your lecturers and tutors?
They are all so enthusiastic about what they do, and that comes across in lectures. They seem very happy with what they do, and are generally very approachable because of that. If there is a problem that you are struggling with, go and knock on your lecturers office door and the odds are they will sit down and try and help you.

How would you describe student life at Leeds?
It’s great. There are some great music venues that get some big names, a decent comedy scene and plenty of bars and clubs. I’m not the sort of person who particularly enjoys going out partying, and I’ve still found plenty to do in Leeds.

Have you joined any clubs and societies on campus?
Along with some friends, we’ve set up an astronomy society. AstroSoc gives people the opportunity to actually see with their own eyes the objects and phenomenon that they are studying in astrophysics lectures, which is pretty cool. I’ve also attended a few of the PhySoc socials, and briefly attempted archery.

Do you have an idea of what you might like to do at the end of your course?
I’ve enjoyed my time studying physics at uni so much that in an ideal world I would love to stay on and study for a PhD. Failing that, a physics degree from the University of Leeds should hopefully give me a lot of potential career paths that I could take. 

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
If you’re not afraid of putting in the hours, physics is a great course. Before long you can’t help but look at even the most mundane things with fascination as you consider the remarkable physics that goes into making it work. After all, physics truly does make the world turn. Who wouldn’t want to study that?