Alumni have gone on to take up varied careers across the heritage and related sectors, many of them securing their dream jobs thanks to the experience and knowledge gained during their studies at York.
Here's what some recent graduates had to say about the course:
PhD Student in Computational Biology and Machine Learning
BSc. Bioarchaology 2013
Archaeology is an intrinsically multidisciplinary subject, and at York you are constantly encouraged to think outside the box. For me, studying archaeology at York was one of the most interesting and exciting ways to learn about biology, and its place within the context of the human past. Studying bioarchaeology made me a much more creative and independent scientist than a straight biology degree would have.
After completing my undergraduate degree, I followed a very winding path working to understand the epigenetics of cancer, designing tools for genetic engineering, and, now, using machine learning methods to teach computers how to spot diseased cells using images from a novel type of microscope. I am still excited by archaeology, and always check in on the latest discoveries and methodological advances.
MA Archaeology of Buildings, 2017
Under brilliant academic teaching, guidance and encouragement, my MA at York introduced me to a wide range of methodologies and approaches to study the historic urban environment. Simultaneously, it equipped me with necessary skills (academic and practical) to enable me to work professionally as a heritage consultant, and to return to academia to undertake my PhD. It was challenging, interesting and fun.
Keri Elizabeth Rowsell
BSc Archaeology, 2010
MSc Bioarchaeology, 2011
I first studied the BSc in Archaeology at the University of York and then went on to the MSc in Bioarchaeology. I have always been interested in history and during my A-Levels I was given the opportunity to do some work experience at the Museum of London and my local archaeological trust. This gave me an insight as to how many varied aspects of archaeology there are and inspired me to go into archaeology.
Giving presentations and writing my dissertations have given me transferable skills that are relevant to the workplace even if you choose to work outside archaeology. I now have the confidence to research, prepare and give presentations, and successfully completing both my undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations has shown that I can effectively manage my time, work independently, and meet deadlines.
The city of York is the perfect place to live to study archaeology. However, apart from the abundance of history, the city also has some beautiful sights, is full of character, and there’s always lots to see and do.
Felicity Jane Hemlin
Pupil Barrister, Park Court Chambers
BSc Archaeology, 2009
I have always loved ancient and medieval history but wanted to choose a subject that allowed greater flexibility of study both in approach, theoretical and practical, and subject matter. If there was anywhere in the country that you would want to study archaeology it is in York.
The analytical approach to research and the logical approach to report writing were invaluable skills learnt while studying at York. However, most significant and in particular enjoyable was the opportunity to present reports and findings both in seminars and in lectures. I have continued to use these transferable skills in my career.
The archaeology department have the gem in the University of York’s crown with the facilities at the King’s Manor located in the city centre. All the staff are friendly and approachable, boasting an atmosphere of family and caring. The standard of teaching is also excellent and the course has something for everyone.
I had an amazing three years that provided me with skills and opportunities to achieve my dream job. My archaeology degree from York made me stand out from the crowd.
Finds Liaison Officer for North and East Yorkshire, Portable Antiquities Scheme, York Museums Trust
BA Archaeology, 2009
Since a very young age I have had an interest in the past and how we have shaped the world in which we live. Archaeology is fundamental to our understanding of this story. It is a broad and dynamic subject which allows us to explore many different aspects of the past in an attempt to understand social interactions, beliefs and culture amongst other things. It is a discipline which changes constantly with new discoveries and developments. It is exciting and interesting and there is always something new to learn.
On a more practical note it is a course which provides transferable skills which are beneficial to any graduate. I feel that the most beneficial aspect of the archaeology course at York for me was the emphasis placed on independent learning and presentations as this is vital in gaining the confidence necessary to present yourself in a positive manner. The lectures and taught sessions provided a strong background in many areas and the seminars and presentations gave you the opportunity to apply what you had learnt.
The course was well taught by respected academics and the mix of taught sessions and independent study was well balanced. The teaching staff were friendly and enthusiastic, ready to offer encouragement and guidance when needed.
Without my degree in Archaeology from the University of York I would not have been where I am today. I have worked my way up to Finds Liaison Officer and have been able to apply much of what I learnt while studying.
Associate, Purcell Architecture Ltd
MA Archaeology of Buildings, 2005
PhD Archaeology, 2010
My Masters and PhD furnished me with a range of transferable skills, including research, project management, tutoring and presentation skills. Combined with the deep technical content of my PhD (covering historic building analysis and conservation), I developed a strong and unique skill set to take into the marketplace of heritage and architecture at the end of my studies. Honing these skills further in professional practice has facilitated my steady progress through promotions to the role of Associate, and I have also been able to qualify as a building surveyor at the same time.
Associate Partner, Planning and Heritage Montagu Evans LLP
BA Archaeology, 2004
PhD Archaeology, 2011
My degrees gave me the grounding in post-medieval and historical archaeology, as well as knowledge of architectural history, which are all now essential in advising clients on development affecting the historic built environment.
Senior Lecturer in Early Medieval History, University of Winchester
MA Medieval Archaeology, 2003
My MA in Medieval Archaeology ultimately took me into my PhD, where I carried on working with some of the ideas about buildings I'd had during my Master's. I took some time off between my MA and PhD to work in museums, though when I came back to academia, I was aiming for an academic career, and the heart of my PhD thesis was part of what I learned and researched at York. My PhD was interdisciplinary, based in Medieval Archaeology, though my role now is in a History Department where I remain very true to my material culture roots in both teaching and research. In fact, at this point I am returning to some of the buildings I researched for my MA dissertation for forthcoming publications. York shaped me as a scholar, and the place and my degree are very much a part of me.
Senior Writer, Usborne Publishing Ltd
BA Archaeology, 1998
I now work in publishing, writing and editing children's books. My studies at York taught me to write simply and clearly, and to explain complex ideas across different disciplines and without specialist jargon.
Assistant Director, UK Border Agency
BA Archaeology, 1994
I had always been interested in archaeology and the University of York’s Department of Archaeology has a fantastic reputation and a great team of teaching staff that are well-respected in their field.
The course at York offered a great mix of practical and theoretical archaeology, and having an emphasis on medieval archaeology really matched my interests. The department has close links with the York Archaeological Trust that provided a fantastic resource to support and illustrate my studies.Skills that I developed during my course have been crucial in the years that I worked in professional archaeology, and to this day, my work outside archaeology. I use the skills developed during my years at York every day, particularly critical analysis, writing and speaking effectively.
The department has a wonderful family atmosphere and there was a brilliant social life. We recently celebrated 20 years since starting our studies at York by holding a reunion. It is clear that the special friendships we developed studying archaeology will last a lifetime.
Head Properties Curator, English Heritage
MA Archaeology of Buildings, 1993
The MA course in Buildings Archaeology has given me a grounding in all sorts of subjects that I still use every day in my job as Head Properties Curator at English Heritage: aims and methods of investigation and recording, architectural history, principles of heritage management, conservation of different types of materials, and even odd things like an optional one-day course in interpreting 16th-century manuscripts (unexpectedly extremely useful in later life). And the summer spent recording and investigating a building for my dissertation was both enjoyable and instructive, although hopefully I've learned to work more quickly - maybe I'd now take a fortnight at most.
I am certain that my York MA was essential in getting my foot on the first rung of the employment ladder in Archaeology. As an introduction to the challenges and opportunities of working in this field, I think the course is outstanding and still relevant, and when occasionally I meet other Buildings Archaeology alumni, it's clear that the experience has been just as formative for them too.
Head of Heritage Management Services, Oxford Archaeology
BA Archaeology, 1987
I chose York partially because of the city itself, but also because it was the least ‘stuffy’ and formal of the departments I visited during the interview process. Once there, the broad nature of the degree stimulated my interest in many aspects of the subject.
I had no clear game plan when I left - just to see if I could make enough money to live on in archaeology. In the years after leaving York I undertook a variety of jobs, from supervising the Manpower Service team at Sutton Hoo, to working with the Museum of London, before joining Oxford Archaeology.
Working for a large organisation such as Oxford Archaeology, and helped by an MSc in Historic Conservation from Oxford Brookes, has allowed me to rise from digger, through the ranks, to run what we call the Heritage Management Services Department. This department specialises in desk-based assessments, environmental impact assessments, historic landscape surveys and various large-scale research projects, including a number in my own particular area of interest, the damage from arable agriculture to archaeology, and how this can be minimised.
Since my time at York I have also been fortunate to work in Lapland, Peru, Ethiopia, and Turkmenistan for various Universities. I never really thought I’d still be in archaeology after 20 years, but having obtained not just a degree, but one from the highly respected Department at York, I always found it opened many unexpected doors, for which I shall always be grateful.