First of all, it’s important to know about the location of the Department. It’s based in the heart of the city of York, in the beautiful and historic building of King’s Manor, which has a lovely homely and charismatic charm. Many students, just as I, were concerned about having to travel to and from the university campus into the city centre. However, the whole city itself has great public transport links with bus routes such as the 66 and 56 running super regularly, making those morning commutes to King’s Manor hassle-free and convenient. Here is all the information you’ll need about buses, bus passes and timetables. Also, if you fancy, you can cycle or walk to Kings Manor, which takes no time at all – 25 minutes at the most if you’re a relaxed walker like me. And making those early 9am dreaded morning commutes into lectures is instantly made better by the historic fabric and beauty of the building, which holds so much history (what better building in which to study archaeology, right?).
Something important to note is that the location of the Department gives us students the best of both worlds. You get the student vibe of living and working on campus, a little bit away from the hustle and bustle of the city; and also a city living vibe from being based in King’s Manor, surrounded by York’s pubs, restaurants, museums, and galleries. Also, the magnificent York Minster is just around the corner, which you can enter for free with your student card!
One of the unique things about the Department of Archaeology, and studying in King’s Manor itself is the vast range of facilities. The library houses hundreds of books, journals, and manuscripts, and is an ideal place to study without distractions. Also, the common room and the King’s Manor café offer a ‘studious buzz zone’, where you can chat, socialize and do group study work in a social environment. There are also computers rooms, bone labs and laptop hire available, all to provide a wide range of study areas all in one location.
An important positive about the Department of Archaeology is the easy access to lecturers, staff, and academics, who are all super keen to help and advise you in all aspects of your studies. They are always no more than a quick email away, and your assigned personal supervisor is always there to answer any questions, archaeology or university-wide related, providing a great support network in the Department. The lecturers all have their own area of expertise, which makes finding your own area of interest easy. And indeed the lecturers’ enthusiasm for their topic is clearly presented in their lectures and seminars, which makes you as the student keen to listen and learn and get involved in projects and opportunities. Dr Sara Perry, a senior lecturer within the department and an advocate in her field of heritage, really helped me find my footing in the heritage sphere, and has allowed me to be able to take part in international projects such as at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Catalhoyuk in Turkey.
I certainly felt that the Department helped me settle into not only my academic studies but also student life in general. The Archaeology Society (also known as ArchSoc) works closely with the department to host social events, balls, and academic workshops, ensuring that all students are integrated into the archaeology community and make friends – I definitely benefited from this. Getting involved in the society is a great way to meet people on your course, which is just as equally as important as settling into your academic studies. The society holds different events each term such as pub crawls, lithic workshops, and even field trips to places and sites such as Beningbrough Hall and Nunnington Hall, all of which I have personally enjoyed.
The Department is also keen to promote employability, careers, and volunteering to all its students, offering a great way to improve your CV and get involved while at the university. Many of the archaeology and cultural heritage organizations in York such as The York Archaeological Trust and York Museums Trust work closely with students and staff in the department, and are always looking for keen students to get involved. This offers a great opportunity to gain and improve your skills. Through your modules, the department ensures all your skills are brought together and honed in preparation for ‘the real world’. Something of which I have enjoyed and found very useful is having pitches and presentations as forms of assessments within my modules, as it allowed me to improve my speaking skills, which are vital in the career sphere. Indeed, what makes studying within the department unique is the varied style of assessments. While most departments focus on exams and essays, the forms of assessment for an archaeology student is varied, from presentations to exams, pitches, group projects, practical fieldwork, and essays. This allows students to really excel in different ways in their degree.