Emma Watts
MMath, BSc Mathematics

Emma Watts

Why did you choose this course?

It just always intrigued me. I studied A-Level Maths and since I did it’s changed my whole idea of it. So I was really interested in looking further into it. I knew that doing a degree in it was right for me. I found it great doing puzzles for a degree. What a great way to spend three years!

Did you look round any other universities?

I look round places like Warwick and I loved it but the campus was just so isolated whereas here it just merges into the city and the student area. It just seemed to tick every box.

What skills have you gained from your course so far?

Surprisingly quite a lot. Even communication skills. You wouldn’t think it was needed too much in maths but there is quite a lot of group work. You’re given coursework to do and you go off in little groups and you get to understand people’s new ideas and take onboard different things and just approaching things from different angles, especially the problem solving. As well as that, the course I’m doing I chose here especially because I’m focusing on being a Maths teacher and I’ve done a course this year which involved going into schools and it’s been such a good learning curve for me because I really wanted to push myself into a teaching environment and I’ve had the chance to teach in front of a class and get more hands-on. It's been really rewarding. I can tell that I’m a lot more confident and I thought I would be doing a Maths degree and would have to keep to myself but it’s amazing how good your communication skills develop throughout the course.

Did you have to instigate the Maths into Schools project or did the academics help you? How did it work?

It was through the Access Academy, so you go through that. I’ve heard of schemes over summer that do it in other universities. Here it was part of my module so it counted towards my credits so it was more rewarding and it made me take it more seriously.

Had you realised that when you applied then? That you could do a Maths into Schools module?

I’d not realised exactly, but when you apply you can apply for the four year course  and then after the second year you get to choose which one you’d rather do. Whereas at other universities they don’t do that. I knew that they helped with the wide range of electives, I think there’s something like 300 electives and you can specialise into different areas. So I’ve specialised in education, I’ve even done a history of mathematics so that if I’m teaching children I’d rather be able to inspire them rather than just telling them what it is. I can say ‘this person thought of this’.

Are you thinking of teaching primary or secondary schools?

Either secondary or A-level. I loved A-level so much. It was just perfect for me, so I’d love to teach that. But I’ve always thought about my confidence with people who are just a little bit younger than me. Luckily enough I got my placement in a college so it really pushed me. But it really surprised me how much authority I had and they actually took me seriously even though I was only a few years older than them and they were listening to me.

How would you describe student life here at Leeds?

Very lively. There is always something going on and that is another reason why I chose Leeds. At another university it would be easy to be sat in my room 24/7 just learning Maths, trying to get through the course. But this is so sociable and friendly and there’s always something going on, so you can push yourself to do more and get involved with everything. This year I’ve got back involved with Netball. I used to do a lot of sports at school and I just missed it out at college because it wasn’t available but now I play netball for the Maths team and we go on social nights out.

What do you like best about your School?

I think the range of things that are available, it just suits everybody. In the first year we were all together, me and my friends, but I’ve noticed this year we’re all just going off on our different ways but we still see each other in compulsory modules, but you can tell everyone is happy in their own little space.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course here at Leeds?

I’d highly recommend it especially as you can change your course onto the three year or the four year. We have two full years of experiencing what degree level is like, because it’s such a jump up from A-level and we get to decide. It’s just great. I’m interested in sport as well and I’ve had the chance to do sport electives and you’d never think you’d be able to do that with maths. You can really pick and choose what you like and it fits in perfectly.

When you come to the end, what do you think are going to be your favourite memories?

Probably the characters I’ve seen and the friends I’ve made. I was terrified coming to university at first thinking that, especially on a maths course, everyone would be really geeky and stick to themselves and not really socialise. But it’s eye-opening to see just how welcoming people are. On our course you rely on others as much as yourself and it makes it so much better if you can have a group of friends and we can all sit together. It makes it so much easier going through the course if it can be like that than sitting on your own, going home and reading through books.