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MA in Archaeology?

Hello,

I graduated last summer with a BA in history. I enjoyed it a lot, but the problem is it doesn't really lead anywhere. For the longest time I wasn't sure where I wanted to go careers-wise (one of the reasons I, perhaps naively, chose a history degree in the first place), but eventually decided I wanted to work in the same vein as my degree and started looking into the museums/heritage sector. I've volunteered a lot over the last year and even managed to do an internship, but ultimately found the job market to be over-saturated and extremely competitive.

I'd still like to work in something heritage-related if possible and have been increasingly leaning towards archaeology. I've heard good things in terms of job prospects, particularly in commercial archaeology.

Archaeology hadn't factored much into my plans until recently because I assumed you would need to have studied it at undergraduate level, but I was pleasantly surprised to find archaeology MA programmes routinely take on people from related degrees (such as history).

My question is: is this worth pursuing? Will I be at a disadvantage (personally and/or professionally) not having any undergraduate experience or will I be able to pick things up on the MA?

Are there any archaeologists on here (undergrad or postgrad) who can shed some light? I'd also be grateful for any advice on the best choice of course, university, etc.
(edited 4 months ago)
Original post by Xuchron
Hello,

I graduated last summer with a BA in history. I enjoyed it a lot, but the problem is it doesn't really lead anywhere. For the longest time I wasn't sure where I wanted to go careers-wise (one of the reasons I, perhaps naively, chose a history degree in the first place), but eventually decided I wanted to work in the same vein as my degree and started looking into the museums/heritage sector. I've volunteered a lot over the last year and even managed to do an internship, but ultimately found the job market to be over-saturated and extremely competitive.

I'd still like to work in something heritage-related if possible and have been increasingly leaning towards archaeology. I've heard good things in terms of job prospects, particularly in commercial archaeology.

Archaeology hadn't factored much into my plans until recently because I assumed you would need to have studied it at undergraduate level, but I was pleasantly surprised to find archaeology MA programmes routinely take on people from related degrees (such as history).

My question is: is this worth pursuing? Will I be at a disadvantage (personally and/or professionally) not having any undergraduate experience or will I be able to pick things up on the MA?

Are there any archaeologists on here (undergrad or postgrad) who can shed some light? I'd also be grateful for any advice on the best choice of course, university, etc.


I did an MA in Egyptology. I don't work in commercial archaeology but some of my friends do. Let me know if you have any questions.
Reply 2
Original post by Sandtrooper
I did an MA in Egyptology. I don't work in commercial archaeology but some of my friends do. Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks for the response. I've got quite a few so I hope you don't mind.

What did you do at undergraduate level? If it was different/distantly related (e.g. history to archaeology), how did you find the transition? I presume there's a lot more practical/fieldwork aspects in Egyptology so I'd be interested to hear how you adjusted to that.

Are there any universities or courses you're aware of that are especially good for commercial archaeology? I'm currently leaning towards Higher Archaeological Practice MSc | University of Southampton - do you think this would be a good choice?

What do you hear from your friends in commercial archaeology? Does it sound like a good career?

What would you recommend I do in the meantime? I presume volunteering - do you know where I could find opportunities? I have some experience in museums and working with archaeology in that context, but no direct experience with digs, etc.

I've also heard field schools mentioned a lot, but not sure what these really are or how to go about finding them. Are they geared towards people with prior knowledge of archaeology or could I join as an outsider?
Original post by Xuchron
Thanks for the response. I've got quite a few so I hope you don't mind.

What did you do at undergraduate level? If it was different/distantly related (e.g. history to archaeology), how did you find the transition? I presume there's a lot more practical/fieldwork aspects in Egyptology so I'd be interested to hear how you adjusted to that.

Are there any universities or courses you're aware of that are especially good for commercial archaeology? I'm currently leaning towards Higher Archaeological Practice MSc | University of Southampton - do you think this would be a good choice?

What do you hear from your friends in commercial archaeology? Does it sound like a good career?

What would you recommend I do in the meantime? I presume volunteering - do you know where I could find opportunities? I have some experience in museums and working with archaeology in that context, but no direct experience with digs, etc.

I've also heard field schools mentioned a lot, but not sure what these really are or how to go about finding them. Are they geared towards people with prior knowledge of archaeology or could I join as an outsider?


My BA was in Egyptology (minor in modern languages). Fieldwork is very difficult in Egypt so I stayed in the UK for Egypt instead. If you're based in the UK, look here: https://www.archaeologyuk.org/ways-into-archaeology/volunteering.html

I don't know any specific courses, and I don't think you should have to pay for a field school. Those which you need to pay for will probably take you without experience, but you should check the link above as they are free and you don't want to be exploited. There were a few people at my university (Liverpool) who transitioned to Archaeology at MA level, and they were able to join the undergraduate training dig, so I'd ask the universities you are interested in applying.

My friends mostly like commercial archaeology, although it varies by company. They were able to find roles relatively easily after graduation, and all but one still works in the field (one left and became a teacher instead).

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