James Purvis

James Purvis

Throughout school, James was always very competent at Mathematics and began to develop a strong interest in Chemistry at A-level. Chemical engineering seemed like the perfect course since it combined both of his strengths and interests. The range of job prospects from this degree is also very broad which means that there are opportunities to work in several different industries after graduating. At the outset, James knew he wanted to pursue a career in chemical engineering but wasn’t sure which particular sector to focus – that’s why he chose a course that offered multiple options.  

“Upon graduating, I would like to secure a job which allows me to make a positive impact on the energy industry and help solve the climate crisis. At present, I am very interested in nuclear fusion research and the engineering challenges associated with making it feasible on an industrial scale. My ambitions for the future are to achieve professional accreditation as a chemical engineer and have the opportunity to travel and work internationally as part of my job.”

Leeds was the right choice

The chemical engineering course at Leeds is very competitive amongst the top universities in the country. In terms of the course content, James has particularly enjoyed the thermodynamics and reaction engineering modules. And his favourite project was the second year design project where the team had to design a process to manufacture aluminium sulphate - challenging but also very rewarding. 

Leeds wasn’t just a great choice academically. On his first visit to the University, James particularly noticed how alive the campus and surrounding areas were with students. As he says: “student life in Leeds seemed amazing – and I was not wrong!” 

“I’ve been blown away by how good the student life is in Leeds. The city is absolutely littered with students so it’s incredibly easy to make friends. Every night of the week there’s numerous events to choose from such as live music, pub quizzes, karaoke and obviously very popular club nights. In the summer, Woodhouse Moor is such a social area to go relax with your friends, go to the skatepark, play tennis, football etc. If you enjoy running, cycling, or even just going for a walk the Meanwood valley trail is a beautiful way to see some nature and takes you all the way up to Golden Acre Park which is stunning!”

Discover new ways of working 

Group work has definitely had a big impact on James in his development as an engineer. Working alongside individuals from different countries and backgrounds opened his eyes to new ways of working, approaching tasks and solving complex problems. The degree programme is very stimulating and challenging, which means students also learn effective time management and independence skills which will also be crucial for any career path.

“My favourite aspect has definitely been the group projects since they offer a fantastic way of meeting new people who I can share ideas with. Working in an engineering team has taught me so much that I wouldn’t have been able to learn from lectures alone.” 

It’s also worth noting that finding the right work-life balance is so important and is a key aspect of achieving success at university. There are endless amounts of societies and events at Leeds to get involved in which provide a break from the workload. As James says: “if I ever feel stressed or overwhelmed by my workload, taking a break to exercise always ensures I come back with a positive mindset and clear head and I’d recommend it to anyone, no matter what course you’re studying!”

Any final words of wisdom for new students considering chemical engineering? 

“Enjoy it! Don’t be intimidated about how challenging the course is as you’ll very quickly learn how rewarding it can be. My advice would be to stay on top of your work from day one, don’t leave things until the last minute and make sure you understand all the concepts and principles taught in lectures because you will build upon these each year.”