I always knew I wanted to study something related to history – but I didn’t know for sure how, where or exactly what I would study. Indeed, my journey to higher education wasn’t the smoothest nor quickest, but I don’t regret going to university for one second.


Work Experience

Work Experience week in Year 10 really kickstarted my research into what a job in history could look like. I sent many applications to places ranging from history charities to magazines, with few responses. I contacted an archaeology excavation firm but didn’t expect them to respond, so I was surprised when they emailed back and said yes!

Excavating in Leicestershire alongside university students was such an enjoyable experience and it really piqued my interest in archaeology – but I didn’t want to give up on studying history. It was by reading through a university prospectus that I discovered joint degrees, meaning I could study history and archaeology as part of the same degree!

I continued applying for and undertaking more work experience in school holidays – so don’t assume work experience is a one-off event! Having even more experience really helped in my university applications.


A-Levels and Sixth Form

I worried about which A Levels would best help in university applications. I asked a lecturer I met during work experience for advice, who reassured me I shouldn’t worry. What mattered was that I enjoyed my subjects. I chose to study History, Government & Politics and Religion, Philosophy & Ethics as I enjoyed all these topics, as well as an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification).

I knew I wanted to study a joint degree in history and archaeology – but not where. Luckily, only a handful of universities offered this specific joint degree, and attending open days was immensely helpful in shortlisting which places to apply for. Some open days were just as helpful for the opposite reason – I attended one open day and knew within an hour I did not want to go there!

I eventually applied for History and Archaeology at Newcastle, Sheffield, Leicester, and Chester – and Historical Archaeology at York. After applying for Newcastle, I decided to call their admissions tutor because I had more questions about their course. After an hour-long call, the admissions tutor outright asked me if I wanted an unconditional offer, which I said a resounding yes to!

I received five offers, 4 of which were reduced offers because of my EPQ. Three of my offers were also unconditional (from Newcastle, Leicester and York) – likely because I demonstrated my serious interest in these subjects with my extensive work experience. I eventually chose Newcastle because it had the best location and best-looking course.


BA History and Archaeology at Newcastle University

I started at Newcastle University in September 2019, and it certainly proved to be an adjustment. It felt like there was so much to learn in such little time. It became easier over time though, and I grew to appreciate the independence that university offered.

Each of my A Levels helped throughout my university years, and I did not feel disadvantaged for not having chosen a science A Level when it came to the more scientific side of archaeology.

My degree lasted three years and gave me incredible opportunities such as excavating at Birdoswald Fort on Hadrian’s Wall. I also joined new societies and tried new things such as being a sub-editor for a student newspaper! University is an unpredictable experience, but highly worth it.


MA Funerary Archaeology at the University of York

I first came across the Funerary Archaeology course whilst researching York for their undergraduate degrees, and I was determined to apply when the time came! Funerary Archaeology is the study of material culture relating to death like gravestones.

Completing a masters was certainly the right choice for me. The academic material was a step up from my undergrad years, but I felt capable of the challenge. The course material was a lot more specialised than undergrad, but it was an area I found (and still find) fascinating. I was also able to make new friends and regularly socialise with them. Your higher education journey does not have to be limited to an undergraduate degree – postgraduate studies are a whole new adventure!


Tips and Tricks

  • Tailor work experience to your interests and aim high when sending applications!
  • Attend open days – you will find out which institutions are the right (or wrong) place for you!
  • Ask questions – admissions are looking for keen applicants!


Higher education doesn’t have an expiry date. Even if it is not right for you now, that doesn’t disqualify you from attending two or twenty years down the line! You just need to keep researching, keep your options open and do what is right for you. To help you make an informed decision that is the best for you, do have a look at other Hello Future e-courses or upcoming events.