Studying alternative subjects

When deciding on a subject for their undergraduate degree, most students will continue to study something they started at school or college, like history or chemistry. 

Some will go for a subject they have a basic knowledge of, but haven’t formally studied, such as psychology or classics. Other students, however, fall into the ‘vocational’ category, choosing to study medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, or even law.

Most these degrees have a clear career path ahead of them, or at least narrow down the choice of careers available on completion of the course. However, not all degrees fall into these categories, and I wondered which options were open to me in the future when I opted to study Egyptology with Chinese at the University of Liverpool.

At A Level, I studied economics, English literature and history, with AS Levels in critical thinking and Japanese, alongside the Extended Project qualification. While I enjoyed all of my subjects, I knew I had a broad range of interests I wanted to pursue at university, and considered a number of courses, including law, archaeology, and PPE. I was concerned about future employment prospects, but balanced this out by ensuring I’d be interested in my degree.

''Many students, including myself, worry about their futures following their degree...'

For a long time I’d been interested in Ancient Egypt and pictorial languages, and once I discovered the Honours Select programme at the University of Liverpool, I knew that was the course for me.

My degree in Egyptology with Chinese is customisable, and I’ve chosen to focus particularly on language, as opposed to archaeology or history. During my first year, I studied ancient Egyptian art, material culture (including architecture and some basic geology), ancient Egyptian literature, two hieroglyphs modules, two introductory history modules, plus two modules on beginners’ Mandarin. This year, I’m studying modules including death in ancient Egypt, religion, historiography, temples and landscapes, as well as more hieroglyphs and Mandarin!

My own university career states that recent graduates of my course (well, the Egyptology part, as I’ll be the first graduate to have combined both Egyptology and Chinese), have gained employment with a number of companies, including Apple, the Civil Service, the police, as well as more expected organisations, like the National Trust. On top of this, I realised that when it comes to future employment, proactivity was just as big a factor as having a degree in the first place.

Many students, including myself, worry about their futures following their degree. But I can truly say that mine's equally relevant to as many careers as a history or languages degree. I can articulate the skills I’ve acquired to future employers, like time management, communication, writing and public speaking, and I strongly believe that this ability to show transferrable skills was one of the reasons I was selected as a member of the Pearson Student Advisory Board.

''When it comes to future employment, proactivity was just as big a factor as having a degree in the first place...'

I’m immensely grateful and excited that I’m able to attend every lecture or seminar, eager to learn more about a civilisation or language that truly fascinates me, and know that I have the same employment prospects as any other graduate.

Portrait of Elissa Day

Elissa Day

Egyptology with Chinese, University of Liverpool