Zoology student at University of Leeds

Olivia Smailes

Liv has been able to get involved in lots of additional activities as part of her Zoology degree, including creating a Marine Science and Conservation Society for students to join.

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

The biggest selling point of the university for me was the campus. I love how close together everything is and how, despite there being lots of buildings everywhere, it is still fairly green! 

What have been the highlights of your time at the University of Leeds?

I have really been able to engage with a subject area that I am so passionate about. It has opened my eyes to novel aspects of research that I wasn’t previously aware of and as a result, I am now considering further study upon the completion of my degree. I have also met some amazing people which have made the experience even better!

How have the facilities (libraries/labs etc.) helped you get the most out of your degree?

The libraries have been extremely helpful, particularly during exam period. The state of the art facilities in Laidlaw and Edward Boyle have made studying in the library much more appealing. The laboratories in the Faculty of Biology have also been excellent during my degree.

Have you joined any student societies/sports clubs at the University?

Instead of joining a society I formed my own! In November last year, I set up Marine Science and Conservation Society, which is dedicated to spreading awareness about all things marine. I really consider this as a first at the university as prior to forming there wasn’t a dedicated marine science course nor was there a society. I felt that it was really important that we as students became more aware of issues relating to marine conservation such as plastic pollution and coral bleaching. MSC society has enabled us to just this! As well as this, it has also been a fantastic opportunity to involve myself more within university life particularly when it comes to the union.

What key aspects of your experience of Leeds would you highlight to students thinking about coming do the same course?

I’ve found my degree extremely engaging as the majority of my lecturers are at the forefront of their research field. I have noticed the importance of this particularly within my final year when researching for my project. In the first two years, the course content covered a really wide range of modules which allowed me to determine where my interests lied. This eventually provided me with direction when choosing my final year project. Doing something you’re interested in certainly makes the whole experience far more enjoyable!

What are your ambitions for the future? Do you have specific career plans? Has the Faculty (careers centre/lecturers etc.) helped you with these goals in any way?

After graduating I’m hoping to specialise in marine biology. This is likely to involve me studying for a masters, however, I haven’t yet decided where! Since travelling in the summer following my first year, I developed a profound passion for this area of science, so that’s why I decided to set up MSC society as it really allowed me to immerse myself as much as possible. I have found the careers centre hugely helpful, particularly the module run by Faculty Employability Officer, Tim Goodall in second year. It has provided me with some invaluable CV and cover letter writing skills which have sincerely helped me when applying for internships.