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With keen interests in biology and archaeology, Ivan Krivokorin attended the Integrated Microscopy Approaches in Archaeobotany (IMAA 2018) workshop held by the Department of Archaeology at the University of Reading, looking to determine which subject he would choose to study at master's level.

The event proved vital in demonstrating the social, environmental and scientific approach to the MA Archaeology degree at Reading, and the wide range of exciting topics it includes.

"The workshop helped me build confidence that Archaeology was the right choice for me. I was particularly interested in Vegetation History, Archaeobotany and Palynology and I saw that there were specialists at Reading that could help teach the relevant modules. I also have a particular interest in forensic sciences, with a keenness to study bog bodies."

Whether you are discovering archaeology for the first time like Ivan, or looking to deepen existing knowledge, the MA Archaeology provides thematic and skills-based options that integrate the social and scientific techniques for a deeper understanding of our past.

Full experience

Ivan, an international student, 'immensely enjoyed' his experience studying Archaeology at Reading and credits the support of the Department in helping him to adjust.

"Coming to Reading I had to adapt to a number of aspects such as writing and speaking in English on a daily basis, getting used to a new educational system, new people and living far away from home. I was thankful for the constant support of my course mates and the staff.

Everybody made sure that I felt comfortable studying and that I understood the tasks I had to do during my course. Of course, part of my experience was being able to nurture my curiosity. I'd always ask questions, which helped me get through this intensive year quite well."

In addition to the warm welcome he received in the Department, Ivan enjoyed access to a range of advanced facilities during his studies, including fully-equipped and dedicated laboratories for human skeletal remains and animal bone analysis, stable isotope analysis, chemical analysis facility (CAF) and an MA study room.

Ivan also got the chance to get hands-on experience using practical archaeological methods during two field trips.

"During the course I attended two field trips: firstly we went to the Severn Estuary in Wales, and explored the traces of Neolithic people in the running sands on the shore. We also visited Chobham Common in Surrey, where we used a Russian corer to collect samples from the local bog, before assessing and presenting these during a course assignment."

Diving into research  

The MA Archaeology course at Reading is taught by leading academics in their fields and their international research is embedded into teaching. Ivan feels this is a real value of the course in providing a stimulating learning environment.

"The lectures and seminars were engaging and thought-provoking. The staff were very good at explaining things and I found the learning process was organised very professionally.

I was lucky enough to be involved in a 15-day placement provided by a commercial enterprise of Reading called  QUEST. During the placement I applied a wide range of methods and techniques to analyse peat cores from two Irish bogs. At the end of the course, the results I produced were included in the official reports.

I also enjoyed making a project design for an excavation in Eastern London, where we created a fictional archaeological company."

Looking ahead after his master's, Ivan is keeping his options open and is keen to explore areas that have fuelled his interest during his studies.

"I want to tie my future professional career with paleoenvironmental studies and seek job opportunities in the commercial archaeology sector, or search for related PhD opportunities in the areas of ecology, paleoecology, archaeobotany and vegetation history."

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