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Hi I have a degree and masters in a different area, however I am seriously interested in studying an MA in Egyptology, do you think it is wiser for me to study a masters in ancient history first, then a phd in Egyptology afterwards? Thankyou.

I should say that I don’t know the Ancient History MA very well. but my thoughts would be as follows. I think your decision would depend on whether you are sure that Egyptology is the branch of ancient history that you are interested in, or if you think you might prefer to specialise in another related subject after your Master’s. I would think both MAs would equip you with certain transferable skills: how to carry out your research using primary and secondary sources, how to interrogate the evidence, and construct your an argument etc., perhaps how to read an ancient language, what the limitations of ancient texts might be etc. The subject-specialist knowledge you would get from an Egyptology MA would of course focus on ancient Egypt – you would be given a grounding in the history, archaeology, religion, language and texts; you would be given experience of the same kinds of things in the ancient history MA I expect but probably drawing on a wider – less focussed – range of evidence, from a range of different ancient cultures. I should think that if you wanted to go on to do a PhD in an area-specific subject such as Egyptology you would need a grounding in the subject; in other words if you wanted to go on and do a PhD in Egyptology you might that the AH MA did not give you enough background knowledge. Many Egyptology PhD students will already have done a good deal of Egyptology at undergrad and Master’s level by the time they start their doctoral research (I had done as many egyptology courses as I could and a dissertation during a BA in Ancient History and Archaeology, and then an MPhil in Egyptology before starting my PhD). I hope this helps and wish you the best with whatever you choose to do! Chris Naunton

Hi! My name is Anna Wellings, I have a grade A level 3 diploma in Egyptology! And interested in a career switch into it in Birmingham any advice would help thanks!

Hi Anna,

Glad to know you’re thinking about taking your studies further! Careers in Egyptology are difficult to come by. Most people earning a living from the subject have undergraduate and also higher degrees (usually a PhD), and many who are qualified to this level eventually find work doing other things. I don’t want to discourage you from studying but I think you have to be realistic: getting a career will probably mean having at least a Master’s degree in Egyptology or a related subject like archaeology, on top of an undergraduate degree. So you will be looking at studying for at least 4 years altogether. As this would be quite a commitment(!) I would always recommend that you should be sure you will enjoy the process of studying itself – do it for the love of the subject, and be open to using the skills you gain to work in whatever field you find yourself drawn to – studying for the pleasure of it is a very worthwhile thing to do in any case, and this approach will save you the disappointment and anxiety if it turns out to be hard to find work in the field afterwards.

I hope that helps!

Chris Naunton

Did you find it difficult to do History and Archaeology rather than just specifically Egyptology? And also may I ask what inspired you to become an Egyptologist and out of all our brilliant Leading experts whom is your best? Mine’s got to be Joann Fletcher for her passion and drive to become what others said she could not. –

No, actually, I LOVED doing Ancient History and Archaeology. Egyptology was the specialism I was most passionate about but I really enjoyed getting a taste of a wide variety of other subjects. It has been very useful also to have had some familiarity with ancient cultures elsewhere in the world with which Egypt had some interaction of course. I would strongly recommend this approach therefore, in which you get a taste of everything before deciding in which area to specialise.

I wanted to become an Egyptologist because I wanted to be able to earn a living by continuing my studies and research, and getting involved in all the various other aspects of the subject, particularly working on archaeological sites in Egypt. It is a wonderful country, and getting to know it., to spend with the people and the landscape while pondering what it must have been like to be there  in the ancient past has been an enormous pleasure and a privilege.

Jo Fletcher is a good friend and someone I admire. I know most people in the field now and I suppose it’s easier to think of good friends rather than people I admire. Someone I couldn’t know, because he is no longer around, but who really inspires me is the John Pendlebury, curator of the Palace of Knossos on Crete and Director of the EES excavations at Amarna in the 1930s. He was a great archaeologist but also a romantic, a storyteller and someone who was passionate about communicating archaeology to an audience well beyond specialists. I would have liked to have met him but, ever the swashbuckling hero, he was killed by the Germans on Crete in 1941.

Thanks for your questions!

How did you fund your MPhil and living costs while studying?

I was fortunate enough to receive a bursary from the Faculty of Arts at the University which paid for my fees. My parents were able to provide some support and I also took a job working in the bar in the Guild of Students (the student union) at the University. I also had some debts by the time I finished of course but I went to live with my family in surrey straight after finishing and took a full-time job in a bar almost straight away which enabled me to pay off my debts relatively quickly. Working in a bar also gave me the flexibility to undertake the work experience I had planned during my MPhil year as well (some museum work, and an excavation in Egypt). I hope this is helpful! Chris N

How has your degree prepared you for what you have done since completing it?

Perfectly: the subject matter gave me a brilliant platform on which to become a specialist – an Egyptologist.

I have noticed that the training that I received in Egyptology at Birmingham was a lot broader and more comprehensive than it is at other universities.

My tutors were also very helpful in giving me career advice and helping to get relevant work experience and eventually a job, all of which has led eventually to where I am now.

What have you done since completing your degree?

Three months after finishing my MPhil in Egyptology I joined the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) as Librarian and Membership Secretary.

I have never left and am now its Director (CEO). I’ve worked for several archaeological teams in Egypt, done a PhD (which I wish I’d done at Birmingham) and am regularly in Cairo where we have an office.

I’m under contract to write a book on Egyptian tombs and have presented two TV documentaries: The Man Who Discovered Egypt (BBC4, 2012) and Tutankhamun: The Mystery of the Burned Mummy (Channel 4, 2013)

Did you take part in any student groups or societies?

I joined the Football Supporters Association and played for their Saturday team at Wast Hill. Through that I met the guy who ran the Archaeology Society 6-a-side team, which I played for in all four years that I was in Birmingham.

I was also in a couple of bands: the completely forgettable Longshore and Parky’s Day Out…

What was the highlight of your time at Birmingham?

There were many: on a personal level I met the people who are now my best friends, and I found my career – Egyptology.

I had a fantastic start in the subject: my tutors were excellent both in terms of what they taught me academically and in all the opportunities that they gave me – not least in introducing me to the organisation that I now run, and in helping me to get my first work in Egypt.

Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?

Initially because of the campus and the undergraduate degree course, which provided a very broad introduction to Ancient History and Archaeology – exactly why I wanted – and included Egyptology.

I wanted to carry on in Brum for my postgraduate studies because I loved Birmingham by the time I was thinking about life beyond my BA and I just wanted to carry on!

what was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

I had developed a real passion for Egyptology as an undergraduate student of Ancient History and Archaeology at Birmingham, and knew towards the end of my second year that I was going to want to continue my studies beyond a first degree.

I think as much as anything else I just wanted more of the same – the University, the campus, the city, the Department, my tutors and of course the subject – but in more depth.