Alison AtkinAlison Atkin

MSc Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology, 2009

Before coming to the University of Sheffield I studied at Saint Mary´s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada for my Bachelor of Arts degree. I graduated in 2008 with an Honours in Anthropology, concentrations in Archaeology and Biological Anthropology.

Why I chose Sheffield

I originally decided to study in Sheffield because I had heard amazing reviews of the university and the city – both from UK and international ranking systems and from professors and students.

The Archaeology Department has a great reputation for all of its programmes, both undergraduate and postgraduate, which was important to me as I wanted to know I was attending a top institution. Aside from that, I was also drawn to studying in Sheffield, because of the city – I had heard that Sheffield was a very friendly city and a great place to live.

My course at Sheffield

I studied the MSc in Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology in 2008-09.

The course was advertised as integrating the sciences and the humanities to form a comprehensive programme and it was this multidisciplinary nature that made it highly appealing to me. It was important to me that my Masters course would expand on the knowledge and skills that I had gained from my undergraduate degree.

My programme really focused on the practical and technical aspects of the subject. I particularly enjoyed my laboratory sessions, as I am a huge fan of hands-on learning.

The programme really prepares individuals for their next step, whether it is academic, vocational, or occupational. During the course of a year I was taught to research, analyze, interpret, and what I considered most important… how to think critically in this subject.

We were given the knowledge and the skills we will need to continue on in the various fields related to the subjects of human osteology and funerary archaeology. And given the increasing importance of international co-operation in various aspects related to this subject, it was great that my programme was filled with students from many other countries.

The Department of Archaeology

The University of Sheffield has some really incredible resources that allowed us to experience a lot of things that other Universities do not offer. I was very pleased to discover that the Department of Archaeology has a really dynamic atmosphere, provided by the professors and the other students.

All of the professors come from different backgrounds and have expertise in different research and topics. Some professors teach in the traditional lecture style, others teach through seminars, and others still teach with practical laboratory sessions. I found having a variety of different teaching methods kept the classes and coursework interesting.

The student community is also very active and it was nice to attend open Departmental lectures and debates with students and professors from other programmes.

Post-graduation and future studies

Since graduating, while I have been developing my professional skills by working full-time at the University of Sheffield, I researched and wrote my PhD proposal and submitted my application to the University of Sheffield.

During this time, it was very nice that I had the support of the Department and I was able to meet with my proposed supervisor to go over my application, which was very helpful.

The MSc Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology course definitely helped to prepare me for doctoral studies and I start my PhD studies in October 2011, based on some of the research from my Masters dissertation, and I will be working with my Masters dissertation supervisor Dr Andrew Chamberlain [link to his profile].

Living and studying in Sheffield

Personally, I feel that an education from the University of Sheffield has a great many benefits. Aside from the fact that I graduated from a well respected university, department, and programme, I was given incredible opportunities and experiences that differ a great deal from those I would have received in my own country.

I found the staff to be very helpful and I formed great working relationships with my professors and supervisors, which continue today.

The University of Sheffield and the Student´s Union have a great relationship with the city of Sheffield and when you come here you don´t just become a member of the university community, you become a member of the wider community as well.

Since arriving in Sheffield in 2008, I have made this city my home and I am very glad that I have the opportunity to stick around a while longer!

If you are interested in making an application to study in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield, my advice to you would be to get in touch with someone... there are plenty of academics, staff, and students (current or alumni) who are willing to help if you have any questions.

If you do decide to come and study at Sheffield, congratulations, as in my opinion, you couldn’t make a better choice.