Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies

Tammy, Archaeology and History of Art BA

Tammy chatted to us about her course and how technology can be used to investigate the past.

We spoke about how an arts degree can lead to a career in law.

We also discussed clearing, work experience and the amazing summer she's just had in South Korea.

A close up profile of Tammy smiling at the camera


Archaeology and history of art seem quite different subjects, how do they fit together?

"As they are both concerned with the visual aspect of the subject they're looking at, they actually complement each other quite well. I really enjoy modern history of art, such as 20th century art and performance art, whereas in archaeology, I'll be looking at artefacts from 500BC and I really like that balance.

Both subjects came together during a summer placement I did at Wollaton Hall in my first year. We'd seen paintings of the property which showed a summerhouse, but obviously a painting isn't always going to be an accurate representation of historical fact. As archaeologists, we wanted to explore the truth behind the painting. So we used technology to investigate further. We used GPR (Ground-penetrating radar) which is a geophysical surveying method that records the strength and time required for the return of any reflected radio waves through the earth to show us what is happening underground, all without us having to dig. Using this technology, we were able to confirm that the painting was incorrect and that there had not been a summerhouse in the past."

I hear you want to work in law, what made you choose this degree?

"I'm hoping to do a masters in archaeology but then go into law. Which may sound like an unusual route, but through a school visit to a large international law firm I learned that approximately 50% of their intake is from non-lawyers, and that they actively recruit non-law students. When I heard this, I thought I'd rather study something I'm really interested in and then go off into law.

Even though my degree is not related to my future career, I'm definitely gaining skills I'll use when I get there. I'm thinking of those core skills such as critical thinking, critical reasoning, the ability to structure an argument and being able to take in lots of information.

I received the core bursary which was good because it made things a bit easier, it allowed me to be more independent as I didn't have to ask my parents for any financial support."

What was your experience of clearing?

"I am the first person in my family to go to university and was born in China, moving here when I was about five years old. My mother and grandparents had further training as opposed to higher education and were really keen for me to study at university. My mum was always a big champion of that and it was always a case of 'which uni shall I go to' rather than 'should I go to uni?'.

I went into clearing as I didn't get the A-level grades I'd hoped for. Luckily, I'd done lots of research into different universities whilst applying, so even before clearing opened I'd started looking at my choices and noting down my favourites. In the end, I had three clearing offers to choose from! I'd never visited the University of Nottingham in person and wasn't able to pop to have a look before I made my decision. To help make that decision, my mum and I watched a lot of YouTube videos and we decided to pick Nottingham as I'd been to the city before and the campus looked lovely."

What work experience have you been able to gain?

"I did a work placement with an EDI consultancy as a research support intern where I looked into how we can make the workplace more equitable for transgender individuals. I used my research to write an article and produce a presentation.

I'm also working as a residential assistant which is a paid role that works in our halls of residence supporting the students who live there. We organise social events and look after their well-being, making sure that they're settled in and happy with their living arrangements. We also make welfare calls and signpost people who need extra help towards the services that can help them. It is a role with a lot of responsibility.

Both, my work placement and role as a residential assistant, have provided me with subjects for conversation with future employers and I've definitely gained lots of skills that I can put on my CV. These include communication skills, interview skills, marketing skills and leadership skills."

I've also had the opportunity to gain work experience in my subject area. Recently a touring exhibition came to Lakeside from the British Museum and I volunteered in some of the curation work around that. I'm actually off now to meet my lecturer to discuss another exhibition we're curating!

You're a co-president the History of Art Society, what do you get up to?

"We're a newly reformed society as a lot of the old members graduated recently so me and my friend decided to get it going again. We've just had our first taster session which was a picnic where we did some drawing and painting, then had a tour of Wollaton Hall. We're in the process of planning lots of future gatherings and collaborations, we hope to visit all the local galleries including Nottingham Contemporary and Nottingham Castle, everyone is welcome - you don't need to be a History of Art student to join!"

Summer school in South Korea

"This summer I participated in the university's international summer school programme. It gives you the opportunity to study abroad for six weeks over the summer break and you can choose to study whatever you fancy - it doesn't have to be related to your degree. I chose Korean and a media subject. I received funding from the Turing Mobility Funding scheme, without which, I wouldn't have been able to consider this opportunity. I lived in university halls out there which was great, and then spent three weeks travelling. I met people from all over the world so now have friends and contacts around the globe!"

How do you define success?

"One of the biggest challenges at university is to overcome a constant questioning of yourself and your abilities. It's really difficult to deal with getting a bad grade or not doing as well as you'd hoped, especially when you've worked hard. When this happens, it's important not to get discouraged but to sit down and look through the comments made by your tutor. I often go back to my lecturers in person and ask for feedback.  Apparently not many students do this, but I would recommend that other people do as you get really valuable advice to help you improve next time.

I have very high aspirations for myself and very solid goals, and I think success to me is if I've tried 100% in achieving that. It's not so much about grand achievements but being able to say 'I've definitely tried my best'."

Tammy's clearing advice:

"Don't worry! Clearing is made out to be really stressful, and for a couple of hours it can be. But, if you plan well and have a list of your top choices ready it can be OK. Just get on the phone or online as soon as you can"



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