Have you decided that you want to do an Arts degree at USYD, but you’re not too sure what major you should take? Well today, we’re going to be looking into some of the pros and cons of a major in Archaeology at USYD!
We’ve talked to Natalie, an Arts (Archaeology) and Advanced Studies (Media and Communications) student who can tell us all about majoring in Archaeology.
Let’s get into it!
Why should you major in Archaeology at USYD?
Archaeology at USYD allows you to specialise and choose subjects relevant to specific eras in history.
USYD also has a wide range of opportunities relevant to the archaeology of First Nation Australians — so you can take subjects focused on Australian History. “They offer a lot of practical and theoretical work. Some universities take only a practical approach, or a very theoretical approach, but USYD gives a good balance of the two,” Natalie said.
Further, the tutors and lecturers in Archaeology are incredibly knowledgeable and experienced in the time periods you are learning about. USYD is said to have a profound team of academics, some of which are recognisable on an international level!
USYD is also popular for its great archaeological societies, so that you can really get involved with the community and students in older grades. These networking opportunities allow you to hear about other students’ experiences in different subjects, areas of focus and also field work events!
Top 3 Pros of an Archaeology major
#1: There’s a huge pool of subject areas that you can choose from
Natalie told us, “USYD has a really broad range of different subjects you can do in archaeology, so there’s an aspect of choice.”
Some of the areas you can choose from and study are:
- Pompeii and Herculaneum
- Minoans and Mycenaeans
- South Italy
- Western Asia
- Ancient Greece
- Ancient Australia
- Ancient China
- Etruscans and Romans
#2: Field work opportunities in the industry
Natalie said, “There is a lot of opportunities to do field work in the local community, across Australia, and even on exchange — which is great to get experience in the sector!”
These field work experiences often include getting involved in archaeological digs. With a lot of construction and infrastructural development throughout greater Sydney, there are often public call outs for studying archaeologists to join excavations.
Being part of ArchSoc, the Archaeology Society at USYD, is also a great way to seek more field work and find out about other opportunities from older students!
#3: USYD balances the practical and theoretical aspects of Archaeology
As mentioned earlier, majoring in Archaeology at USYD provides you with both theoretical knowledge and practical experiences.
“I love studying history so I get to learn a lot about different civilisations even though it is object based. And then we also have practical opportunities on top of that,” Natalie said.
Top 3 Cons of an Archaeology major
#1: There isn’t a lot of flexibility to begin with
Like a lot of subjects, you’ll often find that first and second year can be limiting in terms of the subjects you study.
“In first year there isn’t as much choice as you only have one subject per semester for the major, and that subject is a core unit, so it’s mandatory,” Natalie said.
However, once you’ve got those core foundational units over and done with, you’ll be able to choose subjects from a time period or region that you are particularly interested in.
#2: There’s a lot of reading to keep up with
Being an Arts degree, you can expect to have a lot of weekly readings to keep up with as an Archaeology major. It can be difficult to keep up with the sheer amount of reading you have to do, and even missing one week of content can snowball pretty quickly.
“The readings can be really long but at least they relate to the tutorial and lecture content,” Natalie said.
Nonetheless, these readings mean you become efficient at sourcing the important parts of the information quickly.
#3: Lectures can be very content heavy
Although tutorials and other classes throughout the week provide you with a more practical or hand-on approach to learning, the lectures can become considerably content heavy.
Just remember that it’s still important to absorb what’s taught in lectures as they inform your other classes!
“At times I feel like my work ethic wasn’t the best. I should’ve used the given resources more… It’s so important to take advantage of the extra resources they give so you can be more proactive with learning things outside of the lectures,” Natalie said.
What do you wish you had known before starting Archaeology at USYD?
Firstly, like with any degree or major you choose, it’s important that you’re interested and passionate about the subject area.
If you’re thinking of choosing Archaeology it’s important to know that it’s a particularly niche field, so being continuously intrigued and inspired by history is definitely something you want to consider.
More specific to the major, Natalie said, “I wish I knew how useful the unit outline is… I wish I knew how to understand this page to get a better understanding of the course.”
The unit outline is pretty much the handbook for any course or major at USYD. There’s a page for every major and it outlines the core subjects you must take and the electives or extra units you can choose from.
It also summarises each subject with what you’ll learn, the types of classes you have to take and the assessments you’ll do!
What makes this degree different from the ones offered at other universities?
“I really like how at Sydney I can do it in a double degree with Advanced studies and focus on another specific area — in my case, Media and Communications,” Natalie said.
Although a double degree with Archaeology is also available at other universities, USYD provides you with a second degree in Advanced Studies which provides you with a program. Programs give you the opportunity to study in further depth and breadth compared to what you would do in a major.
Natalie said, “We also have great museums and collections gathered from different regions and time periods. As the university is so old, these collections are extensive.”
What inspired you to choose Archaeology at USYD?
Natalie said, “I’ve always loved ancient history and in high school I became really passionate about it. Even when I was little I loved going to museums.
“Being able to do it in the double degree means that I can have more career options and graduate possibilities. The alumni stories also were really inspiring.
“USYD also has great societies and events which make it great to meet people and network.”
What are the possible career paths?
There’s a whole range of career paths that you can follow after completing a major in Archaeology at USYD.
- Historical museum or gallery curator
- Secondary teaching
- Tertiary teaching
- Specialist roles (i.e. marine archaeology)
These career prospects can also expand immensely depending on the second degree or major that you take — giving you endless choices and opportunities!
Nandini Dhir is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Marketing) and a Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Media and Communications), as a Dalyell Scholar, at Sydney University. She enjoys covering local issues in her area and writing about current events in the media. Nandini has had one of her pieces published in an article with the Sydney Morning Herald. In her free time, Nandini loves doing calligraphy, ballet, and sewing, or is otherwise found coddling her cats.