Andrew Harvie studied MPhys, BSc Physics at the University of Leeds

Andrew Harvie

Why did you choose to study physics?

Physics not only allows us to develop new technologies to improve people’s quality of life, but it also gives us a basic understanding of how nature works. I find this interesting. It is also a degree which in general has very good career prospects.

My favourite area of physics is that which explores interactions between molecules in complex fluids, and how it is possible to probe these interactions with modern optical techniques.

What attracted you to the University of Leeds?

I chose Leeds because the physics department does research that I am interested – specifically biological and molecular physics. I feel it is important to choose somewhere that does interesting research (for a physics degree) because a student will be doing real research in their third or fourth year as part of a group within the department.

I also like the location of the campus. It is near a good city centre but within cycling distance of the Yorkshire Dales.

Has your course lived up to your expectations so far?

Definitely. I am currently doing research in a subject which I very much enjoy, and I feel that both my mathematical skills and, more importantly my physical intuition have improved hugely.

How would you describe your lecturers and tutors?

They are all very enthusiastic about their subjects and are always happy to help and give advice. Most lecturers employ a casual open door policy and are not averse to receiving visits asking for help with problems or other advice.

Can you explain a day in the life of a physics student?

Usually in for 9/10am. Attend four or five lectures throughout the day. In the early years of the degree, you may attend an extended lab session. Third or fourth years may use the time between lectures to visit research labs to work on their individual projects. I would usually leave at about 4/5pm, in time to have an early tea.

Have you taken advantage of the flexibility of your course and enrolled in any discovery modules outside of physics?

Yes, in my third year I took a computer programming module from the School of Computing where I learned programming in python. This has helped me by providing skills I have used in my current masters project.

How would you describe student life at Leeds?

Vibrant and exciting. Students in general live in one or two student areas, so whoever your housemates are you will be living near a good number of your friends. Nightlife is excellent for students with many places doing special student discounts.

The Students' Union provides a major hub for student life with clubs and societies as well as social spaces. I joined the mountaineering society and the Physics Society, which recently organised a trip to CERN where the Large Hadron Collider is located.

Do you have an idea of what you might like to do at the end of your course?

When my course finishes, I am going to continue on at Leeds studying for a PhD in the same department. I’ll be working on using quantum dots to probe chemistry within cells.