Sean Martin Architecture student

Sean Martin

Why did you decide to study at the University of Leeds?

I’m actually from Leeds originally and I love the city, add to that having one of the best universities in the world on my doorstep made it a simple decision when it came to committing to a degree.

Why did you choose this particular course?

I chose to study this course at Leeds because it’s the only place in the UK that offers this kind of architecture degree. It is taught by the School of Civil Engineering so whilst also gaining an ARB part 1 to continue my architectural training I also gain accreditations that enable me to follow a career in civil engineering if I wish.

What have been the best aspects of studying your course, and why?

Possibly the best aspect about studying my course at Leeds is the sheer amount of knowledge the lecturers and tutors have, they’re all very highly regarded in industry and the fact that they are still practicing researchers directly influences the teaching here.

Also, some people will disagree, but one of the best aspects is the intensity of the course - we’re not spoon-fed anything and the emphasis is on the student to match the intensity that the course is taught at, which ensures that we’re ready to enter a highly competitive industry once we graduate.

Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed on your course

We complete a series of design projects in every year but the ones that stand out to me so far now I’m in my third year would have to be the second-year design studio where I designed a market hall in Headingley. Its an exciting introduction into individual, self-driven project work where you have total control over your design and you’re expected to produce a proposal that meets a specific client brief. Its intense, but it prepares you for the more demanding projects that you’ll undertake in the third and fourth years of the course.

Another exciting project that is currently ongoing is a collaboration between myself and The Architecture Society (ArcSoc) here at Leeds where I give fortnightly drawing classes called ‘Sketch with Me’. Each session has a different skill or principle that I try help the viewer understand, recently I’ve taken classes on 1, 2 and 3 point perspective drawing with further classes planned to show different methods of using sketching as a medium to convey project ideas and concepts.

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

I think this question would be easier to answer if it was ‘what doesn’t Leeds have to offer?’. The city centre has every possible amenity that a student could wish for due to it being a city that is geared towards student living. It has great transport links from the student areas of Hyde Park and Headingley to the campus and into the city centre. But you can also jump on a train and head away from the city centre to places like Ilkley where you can go hiking (if that’s your thing).

What are your ambitions for the future?

My ambitions for the future are to pursue a part 2 accreditation and continue my architectural training to hopefully become an architect. Id like to work overseas at one point designing smaller residences and having a degree from Leeds certainly enables that and opens certain doors. Designing my own home has always been a dream too so maybe that’s somewhere also in the pipeline.

I’m not totally sure how yet, but id like to give something back to future students that suffer from any learning difficulties but still believe in themselves enough to pursue a STEM degree. I suffer from dyslexia myself so understand the issues that arise throughout the course of a degree that some people may not even consider and hopefully I can help address that in some way in the future.

What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?

I’d say every experience that I’ve had during my time at Leeds up to this point will help me in my future career. From being in the freezing cold rain in a field in Norfolk during first years surveying field trip, to teaching the drawing sessions that I mentioned before, along with working in teams on projects over the years and even playing football for the School of Civil Engineering in the university leagues and Engineering Varsity competitions. I’ve learnt so much about the importance of being able to work effectively in teams but also as an individual that I can’t help but think every experience at university will translate to vital skills that will benefit me in my career going forward.

What would you say to students coming to do the same course?

Join the Architecture Society, even before you arrive. The architecture course tends to be quite small, for example there are 11 architecture students in my year group and when starting the course, it can be difficult to locate other students on the course, but the Architecture Society will put you in contact with students on your course from all the year groups.

Also be prepared for the work required, the course is very intense and it moves quickly so go steady on freshers week but don’t be worried about making friends either, you’ll be put in tutor groups when you arrive which gives you a chance to gain some friends quickly.

The last thing I would add is to ask for help if you are struggling. The tutors, other students and the union are there to help and we’ve all been in the same situation at the start of our careers and we know what it’s like. But other than that, enjoy yourself! It goes by very quick.