Studying abroad can be daunting, however, it can also open doors that you didn’t even realise were possible

Masters student about to submit her dissertation
Helen Thompson
Masters graduate
MA Cultural Materials
2019
Cultural Materials student Helen was drawn to Sheffield because of the experimental element of her course and the access to student clubs and societies
Masters student about to submit her dissertation

What made you choose Sheffield University? 

I chose to study at the University of Sheffield because it was one of the only universities I looked at that offered experimental archaeology as part of one of the courses. Additionally, the reputation of the Department of Archaeology was outstanding, and I was confident that it would offer me an environment that I would thrive in.

Which course did you do, and what did you like about it? 

I took the MA in Cultural Materials with an emphasis in Experimental Archaeology. The best part of the course was the interactive and hands-on nature of the practical’s and projects. It’s rare that you are given the chance to build iron furnaces, make ceramics, and blow glass as part of a master’s degree. I learned so much from engaging directly with the materials, and I loved every second of it. I would highly recommend the course to anyone interested in material studies.


The best part of the course was the interactive and hands-on nature of the practical’s and projects. It’s rare that you are given the chance to build iron furnaces, make ceramics, and blow glass as part of a master’s degree. I learned so much from engaging directly with the materials, and I loved every second of it.

Helen Thompson

MA Cultural Materials


What opportunities have been offered to you during your time with The Department of Archaeology and the university as a whole? 

The support I received from the Department of Archaeology while I was at Sheffield was incredible. I was encouraged to present a poster at an international conference, and my dissertation research allowed me to travel to Barcelona and conduct research at the university there.

What's your favourite thing about Sheffield? 

My favourite thing about Sheffield is the access to nature and city in one place. Where I lived, I could walk for 10 minutes and be in the Peak District National Park, and 20 minutes in the other direction I would be on campus and surrounded by endless things to do in town. It feels like a young city, and there’s always something going on. Everyone told me I would love it before I moved there, but I didn’t realise just how much I would want to stay.


Studying abroad can be daunting. However, it can also open doors to you that you didn’t even realise were possible. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is unbelievably rewarding, and Sheffield is particularly welcoming and exciting.

Helen Thompson

MA Cultural Materials 

What are you planning on doing now that you've graduated?

Since graduating, I got a job in commercial archaeology and have been working on developing my field skills. I plan on applying for a PhD, hoping to expand my MA dissertation project and continue to collaborate with researchers in Barcelona and further afield.

How does studying in the UK differ to studying in Canada?

For me, the main differences between studying the UK versus Canada is the amazing access to student clubs and the depth of the Department of Archaeology. In Canada, archaeology is typically under the umbrella of anthropology, and a master’s degree in archaeology can often be more broad. In the UK, you can get your master’s in classical Mediterranean archaeology, osteology, cultural materials, etc. It’s specific and excellent for pursuing a career in the field. Additionally, the amount of student clubs is phenomenal. The social aspect of my degree was stronger than I ever had back in Canada through sports clubs, the archaeology society, and within the course itself. There’s always an opportunity to try something new, and everything I was a part of over the last year contributed to excelling in my degree.

What advice would you give to other international students thinking of studying in Sheffield?

Studying abroad can be daunting. However, it can also open doors to you that you didn’t even realise were possible. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is unbelievably rewarding, and Sheffield is particularly welcoming and exciting. The best thing about doing a master’s degree in the UK is that they are typically only one year, so it’s a reasonable amount of time to be away from home. Most likely though, you’ll fall in love with the city and end up staying for much longer.