Welcome to the first blog post in the new series ‘Cracking the Course’ where we’ll discuss less well-known degrees offered at the University of Manchester, from the career paths these degrees can lead to, to the access and outreach programmes that have been put in place to make these degrees more accessible to students from all backgrounds!
Many graduate jobs don’t actually require a specific degree so it can be a good idea to think of what degree subjects you would be genuinely interested in studying at university, rather than what you think you should study. This can help you keep interest in your degree throughout and potentially help prevent burn-out.
First up in this series we have the CAHAE subjects! Before we go any further though, let’s make it clear what the CAHAE subjects actually are…
CAHAE stands for Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Egyptology. There are multiple different degree courses offered underneath the wider umbrella of ‘CAHAE’, including single honours Archaeology, single honours Classical Studies and joint honours Ancient History and Archaeology. There are also distance learning courses in Egyptology on offer. Basically, these courses are about all things ancient, whether that be languages, literature or artefacts!
So, now that we know a bit more about what the CAHAE subjects are, let’s talk to Egyptology lecturer Dr Nicky Nielsen about the benefits of studying these subjects and how the CAHAE department are working to make these degree courses more accessible for everyone.
My name is Dr Nicky Nielsen and I’m a Senior Lecturer in Egyptology. I’m originally from Denmark but moved to the UK in 2008 to pursue my undergraduate degree in Egyptian Archaeology from the University of Liverpool. After getting my PhD I started working at the University of Manchester in 2016 and moved with my colleague Professor Joyce Tyldesley to the Department of Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Egyptology in 2019.
The CAHAE subjects comprise the subjects of Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Egyptology.
There are lots of benefits to studying one of our subjects in CAHAE! Aside from the fact that the ancient world is a really fascinating thing to study, we teach our students a broad range of transferable skills which can help you in your future career: the ability to conduct independent research, language skills, and we also have contacts with various industries, both subject-relevant – such as archaeological field units and cultural institutions – and other industries such as media. Our students have gone on to hold jobs in a variety of sectors: law, the armed forces and police, the media, and the cultural sector.
We have loads of subject-relevant resources at the University of Manchester: For archaeology and Egyptology we have extensive archaeological laboratories as well as a dedicated research collection of ancient artefacts and a well-stocked archaeology library. We also maintain good working links with the Manchester Museum who has a collection of thousands of artefacts from the ancient world, including 18.000 ancient Egyptian artefacts. For Classics, we also have access to the John Rylands special collections which include manuscripts in Latin and Greek as well as other ancient linguistic resources. Staff in the department also run archaeological fieldwork projects both in the UK and abroad which students can participate in.
There are lots of different career paths open to CAHAE students: Some students go into the cultural sector, including museums, galleries, archives as well as work with archaeological field units. Others pursue an academic career by getting their MA and PhD. Others go into sectors outside the heritage field including law and media. In general, our students are equipped with a wide range of very useful skills which make them very attractive to employers.
Some students may think that we expect them to already know a lot about the ancient world and ancient languages. But we teach both Latin and Greek at several levels, including beginner’s level, so even if you have no background in ancient languages or the ancient world, you will be able to select units that you find interesting and which help you build your knowledge base and confidence.
Note from Nikki here: I can also say from personal experience, that I was really worried about studying a CAHAE subject (I studied Archaeology at university) as I thought there wouldn’t be many job prospects after graduating with such a specific degree and thought that only rich people studied classics and archaeology due to this! As Nicky has already mentioned though, there are lots of career opportunities available after studying a CAHAE degree, both within the field of study and outside. So don’t judge a degree by its cover!
CAHAE is part of the MDAS scheme run by the University of Manchester which allow students who live in areas with lower progression to higher education to get a one grade reduction to their offer from the University by completing the scheme. In addition, many of our staff members give talks both online and in person to local schools and societies as part of their outreach work.
I would absolutely recommend that any students interested in Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Egyptology look into doing their degree here in Manchester! Our department is one of the largest and most diverse in the United Kingdom and we have a wealth of resources here in Manchester which informs out teaching. You can find more information about the department by clicking on: https://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/cahae/ and you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook as well!
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