What Jason says about the Master's in Archaeology and Ancient History
Jason Bellis from the USA
What did you do before coming to Lund to study Archaeology?
“I have a Bachelor’s in Archaeology, but I wound up going into software development and GIS for five years. I wanted to do Viking and medieval Norse studies and medieval archaeology, however.”
Why did you choose this specific Master’s programme?
“Lund’s Archaeology Master’s is pretty heavy on the digital aspects. Since I have a software development and GIS background, it seemed like a good fit. It’s a bit more generic and you can tailor your focus on what interests you. I have the ability here to study Viking/medieval if I want to. The field school we did here also was a Roman Iron Age to Viking Age site.”
What do you think of the Master’s programme so far?
“It’s nice so far. It’s definitely different than in the US. It’s actually not as intensive as I was expecting. I think it’s the Swedish mentality that you can make it as intensive as you want. Since I had a four-year gap from doing any archaeological work professionally, it was nice that the first semester we had a thirty-credit module that reviewed everything you’d learn in an undergraduate archaeology programme. So far, we’ve also had at least one thing that’s very new and unique to Europe. Getting a European take on how archaeology works was a pleasant surprise. The GIS course I’m taking right now is perhaps a bit rudimentary for me, but it’s been a good review and I’ve used the time to study new things within GIS. It’s also diving into 3D, which I haven’t had experience in, so that’s cool too.”
What’s your favourite course so far?
“I liked the Building Archaeology block, that was good. Uppåkra was fun as well; it’s a Roman Iron age to Viking age site just south of Lund that we excavated at. I’m really excited for the next course up too. It covers 3D Archaeological documentation and Virtual Reality Archaeology. We’ll be making 3D models of artefacts and archaeological sites and putting them into software and articulating them. I think that’s really going to be the highlight of the courses during the programme!”
Do you get a lot of practical experience during the programme?
“I think I will, but so far the focus has been more on methods and theory. We did do two field work modules which were really interesting. The Building Archaeology was very good and Uppåkra was a good intro field course. The site was very different than what I’ve done in the US because prehistoric sites there are completely different beasts than an Iron Age city. The layers are just so much more complex. We did get a lot of nice field experience there though. This summer they’re also offering research programmes. They all involve 3D archaeology, because that is what Lund is known for; they’re on the forefront of it. I’m going to take one that will be very practical and potentially get published too. I’ll be a co-author in that case, which is pretty cool and ideal for a master’s programme.”
What do you think of the teaching style?
“It is much more laid-back than I was originally anticipating. They want us to have fun, have a good time, do our work, do our readings, but don’t get too stressed. I like that more laid-back pace, which is very different from the US.”
Why do you think prospective students should choose the Archaeology programme?
“If you are interested in GIS or digital archaeology and you want a programme that is more methods and theory based and will allow you to do a lot of independent work in whatever you’re interested in, it’s an excellent choice. I think it’s also a good spot for getting your foot in the door in Europe, especially as an English taught programme.”
What are you planning to do after your studies at Lund?
“Ideally, I want to keep going for a PhD. I didn’t go straight into a PhD because I needed a Master’s to figure out what I want to do; that’s the whole purpose of why I ended up here. It’s giving me a lot of time to do independent research, as well as get more affiliated with European archaeology. I probably want to study my PhD in Europe. If it doesn’t work out, I will probably find a cultural resource management job, a contract archaeology job, or maybe some research in the area to stay a bit.”
What’s it like to be an international student at Lund?
“I think it’s very nice. Everything is easy to access here. Libraries are easy to use and all resources are in English. The programme is also in English. There’s been a couple scenarios where the software we use at the dig is in Swedish, so they put one Swede in every group just to make sure.”
What do you think of the city of Lund and the surrounding area?
“I really like Lund, it’s great and so walkable. I’m used to living in a city where the urban sprawl goes on so far that you have to drive everywhere. Getting to Malmö or Copenhagen or even going north to Gothenburg – it’s so easy to travel here. The bus system actually works, which is nice. It’s a great city to live in.”
Are you involved in any extracurricular activities in Lund?
“I’m involved in Knut, which is the archaeology organisation. I’m just a member, I’m not on the board. I’ve thought about picking up other activities, but I mainly just hang out with people or read. I also still have a part-time job back in the States that I work remotely, so I don’t want to conflict with that too much.”
What have been the highlights of your time in Lund so far?
“Other than just living in Sweden, which has been a lot of fun, I’ve had the opportunity to travel around Sweden a bit. Even though I keep saying I’m going to travel all over Europe since it’s so easy here, I haven’t actually gone outside of Sweden yet except to Copenhagen a few times. I did go up to Gothenburg and I’ve done some other day trips. Course wise, Uppåkra was a great. It was really fun because we did full 8 hours a day with the whole class. Now we have 9 hours of lectures a week, then you have independent study time and free lab. So, there’s not as much time where the whole class is together anymore.”
Do you have any advice for prospective students coming to Lund?
“Get a bike, but keep in mind that you really don’t need a bike if you’re fine walking. I actually really prefer walking over biking. It’s a small city that you can cross in 45 minutes from end to end.”