Throughout your degree programme you will develop useful skills that will help you in any future plans you have. It is important to be able to understand, reflect and articulate what those skills are, especially when your are writing applications or interviewing for jobs or future study. In the third blogpost of this mini series, Daisy has reflected on the skills that she has developed through undertaking independent research.

Critical thinking

From this project I have learnt the importance of asking “why?”. There have been many times where I haven’t understood the science or how to do the analysis of my project. Throughout this experience, I have found that in developing my critical thinking I have been able to evaluate and question topics related to my project. This has allowed a deeper and more holistic understanding of my research. It’s always best to ask why instead of just staying in the dark. This has especially helped when writing up the report as I have been able to better describe the theory.


Resilience has been the most useful skill that I have developed. Over the course of this project, I have encountered many setbacks in my work. I have faced various issues from my code having had bugs, the data analysis not being correctly aligned with the theory and my supervisor not being available. In each instance, I have experienced stress and confusion on how to overcome these obstacles. However, in each case, I have learnt from these problems and developed a better understanding of how I can achieve my goals and overcome the setbacks. When finding errors in my code, I have learnt that it helps to take a step back from the work and take time off. This has helped to look at the code with new eyes, and provides some distance to critically analyse what you have written. In regards to my supervisor not being available, this experience has lead me to become more independent in thinking. I have had to find other ways to attain the answers I need, such as asking others on my course, or rereading and analysing sources to see if there is more information within them that I have not yet noticed.

Time management

This skill has definitely been a learning curve for me. I was not as prepared as I had thought, to juggle the high workload of final year alongside working and having the full university experience. It can definitely be difficult to understand what needs to be prioritised and how to give 100% to everything. I have found that implementing a regular routine to your week helps with not being overwhelmed with commitments. It’s also been important for me to understand when I need a break and being able to see the importance of those times to reset myself.

Scientific knowledge

A key part of my project has been learning the science and gaining a better understanding of physics. This experience has broadened my understanding of both quantum mechanics and condensed matter which has allowed me to feel more comfortable in my academic progress. There is still a lot that I don’t know/understand, however, I have enjoyed progressing from the theory we have been taught in second year into a real-life scenario.  

How to procrastinate 🙂

As much as I hate to admit it, I have become skilled at procrastinating. I have gotten into so many hobbies from exercising to baking to avoid doing my work. Going forward with work, I would definitely like to change this and develop a new skill of learning how to stop procrastinating; but we’ll have to wait and see how that goes!

Tips from This Month:

  • Converting your report into LaTex always takes longer than you think! Remember to leave enough time for this before your deadline.
  • The draft is basically your report, so it is best to consider this as an important deadline. I didn’t realise how much work is needed to write the draft and have had a shock with the level of effort required for it!
  • There is usually a variance allowed in the word count. For my report, we are allowed 80 – 110% of the word limit so don’t stress too much about being exact with this.

You can visit the Leeds Career Centre online or in person. They offer useful advice on developing and articulating your skills.