Hi everyone! I’m a current third-year Archaeology and Heritage student, however, to give you a glimpse of what your first year as an archaeology student will look like, I’m going to cast myself back to what my life was like as a Fresher. Therefore, I present what a typical week in the life of an archaeology student looks like!
Studying humanities is different to studying a science in terms of contact hours (the number of hours per week you have timetabled lectures and seminars), with humanities having fewer contact hours. However, this is highly beneficial as it gives you time to read, research and work on assessments. Your first year, in particular, offers a wide range of modules, all with varying course content to give you lots of opportunities to discover and learn about all different things in archaeology and find areas that interest you personally!
Monday and Tuesday
Even though I may only have one or two contact hours a day, I always try to drag myself to the King’s Manor library for 9am to prepare for my seminars and lectures that week and read the set articles – even on a dreary Monday morning! However, no matter how grey the northern sky can be, King’s Manor will always cheer you up and get motivated for work.
I would say a key tip for study days is to keep hydrated!!!! Thankfully King’s Manor, and also the the main campus library, have various water fountain points where you can refill your water bottle. Within your modules, typically you will have a weekly lecture and a weekly seminar. The lecture will come before the seminar, so these are usually held early in the week. In the seminar, you will break down into smaller class groups and discuss the content of the lecture in more detail.
This format of teaching is super useful, as it allows you to go over anything in the lecture that confused you, in a smaller teaching group setting. A module that I particularly enjoyed in my first year was the ‘Accessing Archaeology’ module, because at the end of term you have a full week of field work out of the class room – doing field walking, GIS and landscape surveying. This gives you a different way to learn, rather than just being class based.
On Wednesdays, ArchSoc (the archaeology society) often organise workshops in the afternoon for all students to get involved in and I have loved getting involved in these workshops, learning different skills of lithic knapping and post-excavation cleaning and organising!
The society hosts lots of other great events, such as socials, quizzes and balls, so you can socialise and get to know others on your course. As well as Wednesday workshops, the society often hosts Wednesday trips to archaeological sites and museums such as Creswell Crags or the National Railway Museum.
The University of York overall has many great societies for everyone to get involved in!
At the end of my first year I spent four weeks volunteering in Uganda for the charity East African Playgrounds, which was organised through the University of York, so I would definitely
get involved if you can!
I had to raise £1,000 for the charity, and Thursdays were my usual fundraising day if I had no lectures. I tended to sell cakes or homemade gifts to help raise money for the charity in my college. All my flat mates would also get involved too, and helped me fundraise for this great cause. We celebrated in the evening with a nice group cooked meal!
In my first year I undertook the role of course rep for the department of archaeology. This was an important role, as I represented the voices and opinions of all first year archaeology students. During the weeks of term I would collect opinions, worries and postive comments from my course mates and then at termly meetings, usually held on a Friday, I would attend a meeting with staff and lectures in the archaeology department and feed back their comments. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, as I had a first hand say in the running of the department, and representing my year was a responsibility I thought helped me gain confidence.
Seminars are usually held towards the end of the week. We often give presentations on set topics, either individually or in a group. It’s really fun to work with other like-minded people, and King’s Manor offer social study spaces to meet up with your group before the seminar and go through and practice your presentations! Giving presentations, although it can sound daunting, will help improve your confidence and presentation skills, which will come in handy in third year for your assessed seminar and lecture, so my top tip is to get involved in your presentations!
Studying in York certainly has its benefits when it comes to the weekends – you have so much to do, see, and get involved in. As an Archaeology student surrounded by heritage you can never be bored! There are museums, art galleries, cool hip coffee shops and restaurants to enjoy with friends and family, and loads of festivals, such as the York Viking festival.