Archaeology has always been an enthusiasm of mine, and I knew that it was the subject I wanted to study at university. So, when it came to choosing which university I wanted to study at, I wanted to make sure I made the right choice! The University of York was perfect for me, for a number of reasons…
The ruins of St Mary’s Abbey in Museum Gardens, which is directly behind Kings Manor and a great place for ‘in-between lectures’ picnics!
This was the most important factor for me, after all, I was signing up to live in a city for at least 3 years! York is an absolutely stunning city, with great transport connections (so even though my family live in Germany currently, going home is never a major issue), and loads of historical places to visit (which is ideal for an archaeologist!). The location of the department sold York even more to me – the archaeology department is situated in Kings Manor, an incredible Grade 1 listed building, shown in the picture at the top of this blog, in the city centre! Although this means the department is some distance from the main campus, I didn’t find any issues with it. There’s constant buses which go from campus into the city centre, and I found that I explored York more as a result of the department being in the city, which helped me to quickly find my feet in the city.
The Department and the Course:
As I have a rather scientific background, I wanted to study the BSc course, and ensure that the course offered opportunities that would not only relate to the scientific aspects of archaeology, but place this in a wider context of the discipline. The course at York is great in developing a good foundation of knowledge in first-year, ensuring everyone ‘tries out’ different areas of archaeology, from field-walking to understanding theories in archaeology! This was great for me, it made me realise my passion for prehistory which I’ve been able to further develop in my second year! During my research into the department before I applied to study at York, I found that many students commented on how friendly and comfortable the environment in the department was. Naturally, I was rather sceptical of this, however when I began my course I was pleasantly surprised when the lecturers introduced themselves by their first name, were friendly and approachable. I’ve always found that all members of the department (lecturers, non-academic staff, PhD students, post-graduates) are so enthusiastic, and willing to make themselves available if you ever have an issue! It’s such a lovely environment to work in!
On site at Star Carr, excavating and recording finds! I’m the one with the pink knee-pad, of course.
Another huge factor for me about the course at York, was out of all the courses I looked at, it was the only one that incorporated an excavation module in the first year, and took students to a real (I say real, as I’ve heard some universities make ‘fake’ sites which students then excavate!) site, where our excavation was significant to the research being conducted on the site. During my first year, I was lucky enough to excavate at the renowned Mesolithic site of Star Carr, which has excellent preservation of lithics and organic material and famous for its ‘antler frontlets’ (shaped deer skulls into ‘masks’). In addition to the excavation module, during first year you learn useful practical skills, such as field-walking, non-invasive archaeological methods and building recording! The department, in collaboration with ArchSoc (the archaeology society at the university), also promotes volunteering opportunities, from working in local museums to helping a lecturer or PhD student with their research!
I feel like I made the right choice coming to York, and I hope that you feel the same way! If you have any questions about the course or anything relating to studying at York, feel free to comment on this blog post, and I’ll ensure I get back to you!