Laura Mandefield studied MSc Statistics at the University of Leeds

Laura Mandefield

Why did you decide to do a masters degree?

I did a teaching qualification after my undergraduate degree, but decided it wasn’t the right career for me so it’s taken me a while to figure out what I wanted to do.

I knew I was strong in statistics so started researching the different courses available.

I chose Leeds because it’s accredited by the Royal Statistical Society which means if you get the qualification you become a graduate statistician and can go on to get a chartered statistician qualification. I don’t think many other MSc statistics courses offer that.

I also read up on some of the modules that Leeds offers and they sounded quite interesting to me.

Which modules in particular appealed to you? 

In general I thought the course sounded quite flexible because you can just study general statistics or take more of a financial or medical statistics route. I thought this would be good as I wanted to keep my options open.

In my first semester I did quite general modules and then in second semester I focused more on medical statistics.

I did a module called Introduction to Clinical Trials which was jointly taught by the School of Mathematics and the Clinical Trials Unit.

We also had a module which introduced us to how to write our dissertations which was really helpful. 

How is your dissertation going?

It’s quite hard but I think being able to write a dissertation gives you a really useful set of skills.

You have to conduct independent research, analyse that research and write it up and do a presentation - all skills that will be really useful in the workplace.

Has the course lived up to your expectations?

Yes it’s been really good to have such a diverse range of modules to choose from and the support from the staff has been really good.

All the lecturers have office hours so you can go and ask them for help or you can email them and they tend to get back to you quickly and all the other students on my course have been really friendly. 

Do you spend much time with the people on your course?

We’ve set up a study group which has been really helpful because when I started I was a bit unsure of my ability because my background isn’t in maths it’s in biology - but having course friends who support one another has been really useful.

For our study group we often book out a room in the library to discuss any problems we were having with the work that we're doing, and we've met in the cafe as well.

There are loads of different spaces you can use like the maths satellite area, which has desks and computers.

I find the study group really useful because often you just want to sit somewhere and discuss because in maths we have lots of problems to work through, so it's good to sit with other people and just discuss them.

What does a typical day look like for someone on your course?

In the first and second semester I would have 2 or 3 lectures or practicals every day and sometimes I would have study groups or meet up for lunch with course friends.

In the third semester I have been focusing on my dissertation which involves much more independent study and research. 

Have you made use of the University’s other facilities such as the Careers Centre?

Because I've done this course to help further my career my personal tutor advised me to use the Careers Centre and speak to someone there to get advice.

I've been once so far, which was really helpful just to get some ideas about applying for jobs and there are different sessions about building your CV and what to expect in interviews.

I've had a lot of advice from there and think I'll probably go again when I'm applying for jobs to make sure I'm getting the most out of them.

Do you know what you want to do at the end of your course?

I want to work in clinical trials so the module I did, which I mentioned earlier, was really good because it gave me an insight into the kind of work that they do.