Anthony Layton

Final year project: Predicting the Popularity of News Articles from Headlines

Why did you decide to study your particular course?

Although I have played around with computers since a young age, before University I had never programmed. I wanted a course that would give me those core programming skills, but at the same time allowed for the study of other things, not just solely programming. The AI course appealed to me because it offered the same core programming and computer skills the CS course does, but allowed for study in areas such as bio-inspired computing and computer vision. These areas are at the forefront of many modern research and innovation projects, so this really appealed to me. 

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

Visiting the Leeds University campus I felt immediately at home. I loved how Leeds is a campus university, yet is only a 5 minute walk from the city centre. With this set up it truly is the best of both worlds. I found the union fantastic when I first visited. Having shops, bars, clubs and even a bank all under one roof, and on campus, was brilliant. The union also offered hundreds of sports and activity clubs, which was great for me. The computing department is one of the best in the country, so I knew a degree from this university would set me up fantastically in the future (and so far it certainly has!).

What was the best aspect of the course/the University and why?

I really enjoyed the machine learning aspect of the course, particularly in language processing. I really enjoyed learning about how the computer is able train itself on a seen document and apply what it learnt to an unseen document, and still predict things with great accuracy. The course also offered several opportunities for group work and project management. This has set me up well for the future.

What other activities outside of your studies were you involved in?

I was heavily involved in the Leeds University Orienteering club (fell running with a map). I represented the university for all 3 years I was a student in the British University Orienteering Championships, travelling all over the country. I was also part of the committee running the club for 2 years, acting as club president in my final year where the club won a Riley award from the Leeds University Union. As well as seriously helping to improve my leadership and organisational skills, I was also able to help out in the community with the club, putting on orienteering lessons for children, and I also gained a minibus driving qualification. As well as doing this I played squash and did lots of running and mountain biking around Leeds, exploring much of the city and further afield.

What are you doing now, what does your job involve?

I have been able to land a graduate job with BT down in Ipswich, as a software engineer. I am yet to start, so I don’t really know what the job involves yet, but I am excited to get started and move to a new part of the UK.

How did your course help/how will it help your future career?

The AI course has given me the core skills I need to get a job in almost all computer science-related fields. The degree also has the added bonus of being different from CS and has certainly given me an appreciation of several other areas in computing. The course’s professional development and project management topics have certainly shown me how projects work in the real world, and how important it is to ensure teams work well together, and everyone knows what they are doing. The degree title alone (BSc Artificial Intelligence) certainly has a wow-factor for potential employers, and coming from one of the best computing departments in the country, it has set me up very well.

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

I can’t think of anybody on my course, or anybody I know on other courses who regrets their decision to come to Leeds. I would certainly advise prospective students to visit the university more than once before making up their mind. Ensure that you visit all of the halls or residence and make a reasoned choice of where you want to live for your first year. Try and get involved in as much as you can outside of your studies, not only do you make loads of other friends away from your course, but I found that these activities are what you remember very fondly.