Advice for someone who wants to be a historical archaeologist??Watch this thread
Hi guys!! I'm a 17yo (year 13) who desperately wants to be a historical archaeologist but is very aware how difficult it is to 'make it'. I was looking for some advice about where I should study/ what choices I should make. I applied for CAAH at oxford but got rejected after the interview. My parents are disappointed (and v skeptical of academia/archaeology as a whole) and want me to take a gap year, stay in Germany and learn German fluently (I'm a citizen) and reapply to oxford (maybe apply to the US as well). I'm leaning more towards going to edinburgh university (for Archaeology and Ancient History, which is a bit more archaeologically focused than the oxford course), which would result in me getting a MA after 4 years rather than a BA in 3. Both courses focus on classical archaeology, which is what I'm mostly interested in but I'm also rlly keen to learn about prehistory in the Mediterranean/Asia and Eurasian steppe tribes, and other bits of ancient history that aren't necessarily 'classical'. Is it worth reapplying to oxford and potentially wasting a year working in Germany if I don't get in the 2nd time? I don't know how helpful a job (that I would be qualified for) would be (most likely as a tour guide in a museum or a teaching assistant) in terms of uni applications.Any advice would be much appreciated!!!!
German is a massive help in academia. In the US, if you want to do postgraduate study in Classics or archaeology, you will need to pass a qualifying examination in French or German, for example, and it's becoming increasingly desired in the UK, too (I wouldn't say required yet, but I personally don't know many academics who don't have reading knowledge of at least one).
Edinburgh's 'MA' isn't a MA degree in the same way as it is in the rest of the UK. You'd still need to do a masters and a PhD afterwards, like anyone else. See here: https://www.blogs.ppls.ed.ac.uk/2019...s-scottish-ma/
For Oxford, work experience won't help. You will need to do well in an interview. So, it's up to you. There is no guarantee you will get in the second time round. Maybe think about what your parents would be like if this happened.
Outside of that and more in the "classical" realm, a few programmes might allow you a broader scope for exploration of the history and archaeology of both classical and other comparable ancient civilisations, but they are somewhat few. The Ancient World programme at UCL or Classics & Oriental Studies at Oxford, for example, both may allow you more leeway in that regard. However Classics & Oriental Studies at Oxford is going to be a lot more language/text based than archaeological (although you may take archaeology options and archaeological material may also inform some of the non-archaeological papers. The ancient world programme does offer some scope to explore the prehistoric elements as well through external optional modules (which you can only take a limited number of but they are there as an option!), along with one module on the prehistory of Europe specifically which is considered an "in programme" module that you can take freely.
Something that may also be of interest would be the history of art, as some courses may also extend that to archaeological material or potentially even prehistoric art (e.g. rock art), and although often the courses are Euro-centric there will typically be at least some (and sometimes much) non-European art/archaeology considered. The course at SOAS for example is fairly non-European in character and as a result also distinguishes less between "art" and "archaeology". There is also a joint course between SOAS and UCL if you wanted to incorporate more European (including classical) art. You would also normally situate the art (or archaeological objects) in their historical context and thus be learning about the history of the period to some extent. However it would probably not include much if any practical skills in archaeology which may limit you in terms of becoming a professional archaeologist (although perhaps e.g. an archaeology degree followed by history of art masters might let you then balance the archaeological elements with the most historical matters, across a range of cultures).