Susan Coales

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Journalism, Media and Publishing
Job title: Illustrator, Independent Archaeological Researcher, Writer
Subject of study: Geography with Archaeology
Year of graduation: 1974
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name


What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

My first job after graduating from Exeter was Finds Assistant for the Department of Urban Archaeology at the Museum of London. Next I was Archaeological Illustrator at the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments, London. I continued this freelance for a while while having children – then studied jewellery making (ongoing interest from the archaeology) and spent the next 25 years writing non fiction books on the subject that have been published world wide and in many languages. For the past 4 years, I have returned to archaeology and am researching Anglo-Saxon glass beads and writing and illustrating a book on the subject.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I love writing and illustration and I am fascinated by archaeology and ancient crafts. I have been fortunate in my career to concentrate on all these interests.

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

Exeter University Speleological Society; Film Soc; OODS.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

Physical Geography, Cartography and Archaeology. Biggest highlight was the field trips – I love the out of doors.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

I loved the lectures and the learning. The library, the field courses, the practicals – and of course the social life and the friends.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

It was my first choice for the course content – and I grew up in the tropics so I hoped it would be warmer than going further north.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

I learned how to write well; I learned how to study and research efficiently; and I was introduced to subjects that I would never have encountered otherwise. The whole experience also helped my self-confidence a lot.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

If you want to become a published writer, you need to enjoy working extremely hard and have a continuous curiosity and dedication to breaking new ground in your chosen subject. You also need to be very good at checking your own work.

What are your plans for the future?

To finish the current book and then start another. I find writing and researching a joy.


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