Georgia Tomova

Georgia Tomova

I chose to come to the University of Leeds to study the above course focused on causal inference for health data. This makes it hands down the best choice to study epidemiology or health data related degree in the country. This wide range of optional modules was also particularly appealing as it allows students to specialise in the areas they are most interested in. I studied my undergraduate degree at the University of Leeds and I certainly loved my time here. Staying in Leeds was a really easy decision for me; the MSc course was unique in terms of its content, the university offers excellent support, and the city is amazing!

The course not only exceeded all my expectations, but it has also quite literally changed my life. What I thought was just an MSc that would help me get a better job has actually turned into my biggest passion. It was such an invaluable eye-opening experience, which completely changed my way of thinking and helped me find the ‘missing piece’ of the big puzzle that is health data analysis.

The quality of teaching has definitely been the biggest highlight of the course. Most lecturers teach with passion and enthusiasm that I have never encountered before, which turns lecturers into captivating stories rather than dry technical materials. The second highlight I would like to mention is the friendly atmosphere and the amazing people I have been extremely lucky to meet during my MSc. My peers and I all came from different backgrounds and the different knowledge that we had was extremely helpful. We were a great group and constantly supported each other.

Most of the assessment was through coursework and I personally only had 2 exams, meaning a very heavy workload and many assignments throughout the year. This was definitely one of the biggest challenges in my life. However, having managed that, I now feel prepared to deal with any challenging situations in the future, so it was certainly beneficial.

My research project was a methodological study in which I explored a phenomenon known as ‘collider bias’ that can often be present in the analysis of compositional data. I investigated its consequences in the context of nutrition research, and more specifically, in the different approaches for energy intake adjustment. To do this, I used data simulation and created various scenarios, from which I then built models in order to observe the effect that the choice of adjustment would have on the model results, and how collider bias would change the interpretation of these results. I chose this project because, as a nutrition graduate, I was aware of the potential limitations of nutrition research and could recognise how overlooked some of these problems were. I definitely recommend choosing a theoretical rather than an applied project if you are really interested in causal inference.

Doing a methodological research project has prepared me for my next step after graduation, which will be a data science PhD at the Alan Turing Institute. I will be using many of the methods which I learned as part of my MSc project, therefore the skills will be directly transferrable.

Having been both an undergraduate and postgraduate student at the University of Leeds, I can honestly say the greatest highlight of my overall experience has been this MSc. It was truly life-changing and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Secondly, I am thankful for the people I have met, which will hopefully be friends for life. Leeds never disappoints!

The quality of the facilities at the University of Leeds are excellent. The MSc lectures and workshops take place in a designated computer lab which meets all software needs of the course. The atmosphere of the libraries greatly enhances the learning experience as there is a wide choice of different study environments. I also found the 24-hour computer labs very helpful and regularly used them throughout my time at Leeds.

I was on the committee of Coffee Society, and a member of Eastern European and Bulgarian Society. This allowed me to make more friends and take a break from the daily routine once in a while. It is very important for students to learn how to manage stress and joining societies is one way to socialise and make your experience at university more fun.

The key aspects of my experience of Leeds I would highlight to students thinking about coming to do the same course would be to make friends with your course mates! This not only improved my experience by making the environment more pleasant and fun but also greatly enhanced my knowledge and understanding of the topics we studied, thanks to the discussions we regularly had. Each of us came from a different background and this proved to be very beneficial for our learning as it offered various points of view.

After finishing my course, I will be starting a PhD programme funded by the Alan Turing Institute in London, in partnership with the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA). My research with Dr Peter Tennant, Professor Mark Gilthorpe, and Dr Wendy Harrison will be focused on evaluating the use of anthropometric composite variables for prediction and causal inference in cardio-metabolic research. The quality of the MSc course and the invaluable guidance and support I received from my supervisors helped tremendously in securing this very competitive PhD Studentship.