Becky Smallman

Country: United Kingdom
Subject of study: Archaeology with Forensic Science
Year of graduation: 2019
Type/Level of study: Post graduate

What did you enjoy most about your degree programme?

Honestly, I find it really hard to describe what I enjoyed most about my degree programme when it was all so fantastic! The lecturers are so brilliantly enthusiastic that it is so easy to get caught up in it, particularly when allowed to explore a topic of your own choosing when you can let your own passion spur you on with the encouragement of the lecturers, which happened to me in so many modules. Working on the dissertation is a perfect example of this: when I started I had a vague idea that I wanted to do something to do with bog bodies and ended up doing in depth research and a sixth-month experiment that had real, useful results with plenty of opportunity for future research, even if it was quite disgusting, but great fun nonetheless! Honourable mention to compulsory field school at the end of first year which I spent in Ipplepen which was the best atmosphere of teamwork I have ever experienced, with all of us camping together for a month and all united by the archaeology we were excavating, plus many more voluntary opportunities for practical work and skill development that I took part in both in the labs and off-campus sites.

Some of the students were are profiling have in addition to their degree been awarded a departmental prize or award in recognition of their exceptional achievements. If this applies to you please can you tell us about the award you have received and what this award means to you?

I was honoured to receive three awards alongside my studies – a Commendation for Contribution to the Life of the College, a Dean’s Commendation and the Bertie Black Award for Archaeology. I am immensely grateful for all of these and the recognition of my work and achievements; I plan to make as best use of these as I can as I go on to a Masters and then hopefully PhD where they will demonstrate my dedication to my work.

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

Out Of Doors Society, First Aid Society and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Society.

What was the highlight of your time at Exeter?

Again, it’s so hard to pick a highlight of my time in Exeter when everything has been so brilliant but I feel I must mention a small society that I joined in a brief moment of nerdy courage during my first year Fresher’s Fair – the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Society. After accidentally becoming the society’s president a year later, I got to know my would-be partner David who helped me set up and run events, including sitting with me all day during that year’s Fresher’s Fair; he wasn’t even committee but everyone else was too busy, so we got to know each other and the rest is history. Unfortunately, with no one willing to take over committee for the following year, the society ended with me as its last president, but SHMS will always have such a special place in both our hearts. 

What will you miss the most about University?

There is far too much I would miss about Exeter and about the University, so frankly I’m not leaving! Because I haven’t mentioned it elsewhere, I must just praise the beautiful campus here which is so lovingly kept by the grounds team; I have spent many hours just wandering around admiring how picturesque everything is, particularly some of the quiet hidden spots on campus. I know if I was leaving, I would definitely miss having such a lovely place to walk.

What advice would you give to current and future students? (If you are an international student what would you like to tell future students from back home who might be thinking about applying to study in Exeter?)

 There is so much happening at the University that it’s easy to get overwhelmed or anxious (believe me, I was terrified when I started here!) but my best advice is to immerse yourself in as much as possible while you’re here – join random fun-looking societies, take modules you know nothing about but think might be interesting, and above all offer to help out wherever you can. It has been through these rewarding and engaging experiences that I have found some of my strongest interests which will lead me on new and exciting paths in the future, not to even mention the brilliant people you’ll meet along the way. I really do believe that the University of Exeter has something for everyone to become passionate about and gives you all the opportunity to find it.

What are your plans now that you have graduated?

I am starting my Masters here in September where I will be studying MSc Bioarchaeology (Human Osteology) and I really can’t wait to get stuck back in and further develop my understanding! (If you see me around, feel free to stop me for a chat or to ask any questions!) Afterwards I intend to undertake a PhD, although I know choosing a specific topic will be so difficult when there is still so much I want to learn and explore.


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Katrina Dring

Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. I studied for an MA in the Arts of the Americas, Africa and Oceania at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. I then moved to Aberdeen to begin a CPD PhD between the University of Aberdeen and National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh.