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Where can an archaeology degree from the University of Reading take you?

Tim MacDonald Watson, a BA Archaeology alumnus, is Operations Manager in a COVID-19 Testing Laboratory at NHS University Hospital Southampton. He tells us about his career path since graduating and how the skills acquired while an Archaeology student have been essential to working life.

Career journey

Archaeology is interdisciplinary, combining the humanities and sciences. This helps students acquire a broad range of skills and experiences to take into the world, whether in the archaeology sector or elsewhere.

"After graduating I approached my local heritage site, Glastonbury Abbey, to work and volunteer for them. I tried to get as much exposure as possible to the realities of running a heritage site, where my activities ranged from education for schools, to ticket sales and guided tours. I was looking to find a niche where I could build a career, even if it wasn't in the same location.

While at Glastonbury Abbey I completed an MSc Cultural Events Management course, and following this I moved to work at Stonehenge."

Tim spent five years at Stonehenge in Operations, where he also worked alongside other University of Reading Archaeology graduates. Tim joined the NHS towards the start of the Covid-19 pandemic; an Operations Manager role came up at a Testing Laboratory and Tim took the leap.

Turning a passion into a profession

Tim firmly believes in the importance of following your interests and doing something worthwhile.

"For those of us who have been lucky enough to work at a job we love, it's hard to imagine following another path. I love archaeology, studying the subject, and working in a similar field has meant I have been able to live that passion every day. There is plenty of time further down the line to work in an office staring at a screen. A degree allows you to make a passion into a profession, and Reading is an excellent place to do this.

I wouldn't have gone to University if I couldn't study something I was genuinely fascinated in and everything about the Department of Archaeology echoed the kind of place I wanted to be. I loved the balance between studying and relaxing. As with anything in life, you get out what you put in, and Reading catered for everybody on that scale."

Problem-solving foundations

Reflecting on his time at the University of Reading, Tim is grateful for the transferable skills he picked up, that he is now using in everyday work.

"On an individual level I took away the passion to look for answers, to metaphorically dig-deeper and explore the reason why - such as doing a root-cause analysis. Assessing and fixing the underlying problem to improve your service rather than focusing on alleviating the impact. Every workplace in the world has problems, if you have the passion to solve these then you will likely do well."

Career opportunities

Our Archaeology graduates go on to work in a diverse range of sectors, including archaeology and heritage, construction and surveying, media, science, law, financial services, teaching and other occupations where logic and critical thinking are valued. Overall, 96% of graduates from Archaeology are in work or further study within 15 months of graduation (Three-year average, based on our analysis of HESA data © HESA 2022-2024, Graduate Outcomes Surveys 2019/20-2021/22; includes Full-time, UK domiciled, first degree Archaeology responders).

Find out more about our undergraduate courses