My daughter is 15 and following the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) syllabus. For her undergraduate degree, she would like to pursue Archaeology. What should she do to achieve this and what courses are available in universities in the US, the UK or France? Should she change her current school curriculum to suit her future plans? What career options would she have after she completes her graduation?
Mythily via email

Archaeology is a subject that combines both the humanities and sciences and so provides a perfect platform for developing skill-sets that can be used in other professions, too. Students develop skills in problem solving, data analysis, logical and lateral thinking and public speaking - attributes valued by employers in any discipline.

What is also interesting is that the subject can be studied in at least two different ways - methodical approaches (studying it as a subject such as marine archaeology or geo-archaeology) or period or area of focus (Africa, Egypt, Subcontinent, etc). It is therefore important to identify your daughter's field of interest and then select courses accordingly.

In the UK, there are close to 50 universities that offer either a BA or BSc in Archaeology/Archaeological Sciences or a joint honours degree after three years of full time study. Some universities offer a sandwich degree (a four-year undergraduate course in which students undertake a placement year in industry, normally after the second year at university), while a few offer a master's degree after four years of study.

Many archaeologists have either a master's or a doctorate in the subject. Biology, chemistry and maths are recommended at A levels for a BSc in Archaeology in the UK.

Universities in the US prefer students who have studied geography and history. Knowledge of ancient and modern languages will help. It is also desirable that she spend a few summers doing internships at museums.

I do not think it is necessary to change her curriculum, as CBSE is accepted in the UK and the US. She may however need to do her SATs and TOEFL depending on the country of study.

While selecting universities, you need to look for schools that operate their own archaeological digs and/or offer opportunities in museums. It should also have state-of-the-art laboratories. Faculty members and their area of specialisation need to be researched. You should also check if the school she wants to study in offers the area of specialisation of her choice.

As for career options, once she is a qualified archaeologist, she can work at museums, universities, with the government or with engineering or environmental companies. Many jobs would require a master's degree or a doctorate.