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Placements and volunteering – University of Reading

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  • Direct experience

    Get ready for the workplace, make connections and develop valuable skills

Placements and volunteering

Enhance your skills and strengthen your employment prospects as you gain direct experience and develop a network of contacts through a placement or volunteering.

You'll have a variety of placement options during your time with the Department of Archaeology*. You can develop your field skills, dig deeper into research and volunteer at one of our three superb museums.

We also offer a four-year degree option, which means you can combine your degree with a nine-month professional placement, or split the third year between a professional placement and a Study Abroad placement. You also have the option of spending your full third year studying abroad at one of our partner institutions.

Commercial placements

Get hands-on experience in commercial archaeology with a traineeship. Our students have been placed at a variety of organisations and institutions, and have done work such as:

  • studying and processing human remains from St Oswald's Priory, Gloucester (AD 900–1890)
  • investigating palaeoclimate records from lakes and bogs dating from the Neolithic Period through to the Iron Age on a Mediterranean palaeoclimate project
  • supporting the University's Archaeological Graphics Technician to digitise finds.

Research placements

Work among professional teams on our research projects and develop skills to use in your own project work with a research placement through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme.

These projects may involve excavation recording and planning, geophysics, post-excavation analysis, or presenting projects to the public. Recent placements have included:

  • Developing Experimental Archaeology for Research and Teaching: developing new facilities and resources to enhance the research and teaching of experimental archaeology within the Department. For example, one student worked with staff and peers to help develop the new "Experimental archaeology and heritage outreach" module, and produced guidance documents to help with the planning of new experiments.
  • The Ecology of Crusading: Isotope Analysis of Faunal Remains: exploring the potential of using isotopic analysis of animal remains to investigate the environmental impact of the Teutonic Order in the Eastern Baltic region.

“I really enjoyed being part of a research team, and working with academics in a professional way. It was brilliant being able to work with them on-site, and take part in a range of tasks. It was great to see a different aspect of working on an archaeological project that involved fieldwork that wasn't purely excavation-based. It was a pleasure to work with everyone involved.”

Polly Clowes, third-year archaeology student – Evaluating Impact at Glastonbury Abbey placement

Museum placements

With three museums on campus, you'll have the opportunity to volunteer or apply for a placement at the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, the Cole Museum of Zoology and the Museum of English Rural Life.

At the Museum of English Rural Life you can join the student panel, apply to become a paid student explainer, or meet and chat in the new student-designed social learning space, "The Nook".

At our three museums, you’ll have the chance to experience tasks such as collections-based research, assisting with digital projects, contributing to major public events, helping install temporary displays, communicating via social media, and assisting with formal school sessions.

You also have the opportunity to apply for paid summer internships and UROPs at campus and local museums and heritage sites.

Our students have undertaken formal placements at The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, The Foundling Museum, The River and Rowing Museum Henley, The Oxford University Museum of the History of Science, and the Roman Baths, Bath Spa. They have assisted with cataloguing and collections management, public events, education sessions, front-of-house duties, exhibition set-up, and preventive conservation. They have been given behind-the-scenes access and careers and skills advice from their placement providers.


​Apply for a RED Award

Make the most of your extra-curricular activities and experiences including placements and volunteering with the Reading Experience and Development (RED) Award, the official University of Reading Employability Skills Certificate. The certificate is awarded alongside your degree and this recognition, along with your experience, will help you stand out from the crowd.

*Programmes with a Professional Placement Year (also known as 'Year in Industry' or 'Placement Year') are fully dependent on students securing their own placement opportunity, normally through a competitive recruitment process. The University provides dedicated career and application support for placement year students. Students who do not secure a placement or who are unable to complete the placement year due to extenuating circumstances, have the option to transfer to a three year variant of their programme with agreement from their school/department.

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