Student Insights: James Tufnell

1 November 2018

Many of our part-time students are juggling their studies with a full-time job and/or a hectic home life. James Tufnell, who is currently studying for a MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology, has gone one step further and is also a serving soldier in the Army Reserve.  Here he explains why he chose to study at Kellogg College and how he hopes to use his skills and research methods in the future to help protect vulnerable archaeological sites.  



How did you become a Reservist?

I joined the Cambridge University Officer Training Corps while studying for an MPhil in Archaeology at Hughes Hall, Cambridge. During my time there, I transferred into the Army Reserve where I currently serve as a soldier.

Why did you decide to study for a Masters?

Whilst studying for an undergraduate degree at Durham University, I submitted an essay on the Syrian town of Palmyra, it was shortly after this I witnessed the devastating destruction of this ancient town on the news.  I decided to apply to further education in the hope that, in the future, I might be able to help mitigate against further damage to archaeological remains in operational/conflict environments.

What influenced your choice of subject?

The past has always fascinated me. However, in this age of ever increasing technological advancement, I think it is increasingly and fundamentally important to keep one eye on the past, so as to better understand it, enhance our knowledge of it and better appreciate our global heritage.  To quote George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.  With this in mind, I believe that many of the answers to the issues we currently face as a species, lie in the past and, consequently, the study of archaeology is profoundly important.

Why did you choose Oxford / Kellogg?

I chose Kellogg because of its strong international student body. As Oxford’s biggest college, I wanted to immerse myself into as big a pool of global talent as possible; I am a believer that a lot of the learning experience at university is collaborative between students, rather than specifically lecturer-student. At my Coming Up Dinner at Kellogg, I had the good fortune of sitting with people from all over the world, where the conversation ranged from global foreign policy to astrophysics and Zimbabwean currency fluctuation to the best value for money bike rental in Oxford. So far, the College has very most definitely lived up to my expectations.

With reference to why I chose Oxford, the Archaeology Department and the Department of Continuing Education are two of the most renowned departments in their fields, in the world. The lecturers on my course are subject matter leaders and, as a consequence, the students that are attracted to the course are specialists within archaeology looking to enrich and expand their skill set and understanding of the past.

What support have you been given by Kellogg / your department?

My department has been hugely understanding towards the nature of my work and has been very accommodating to any issues I have had as a part time student.

Kellogg has proved to be a phenomenally welcoming place with a plethora of events laid on, which has been a great support in itself, given the stresses and strains of starting in a new institution. More broadly, I am part of the University Athletics Club, specialising as a sprinter, and the College has allowed me to apply for financial support for club membership fees and kit.

How do you manage your time?

I am a Management Consultant for Accenture and combine this with my commitment to the Army Reserve and my studies at Kellogg, so time management is phenomenally important. I read archaeological papers during any spare moment I can get, to make sure I’m on top of the course-reading list. In terms of the essays, I have yet to do one, so completing them to the required high standard is a challenge I have in store for the future. My weekends will become even more valuable as Sunday becomes Essay Day.

How do you think your MSc will benefit your future career / affect your career choices?

I am hugely keen to learn landscape archaeology specific skills and research methods, during my MSc at Oxford. My intention is to apply these both in my research and, hopefully in the future, within the military, with the aim of helping to protect and preserve the huge variety of archaeological features under threat, across the globe. More personally, I hope to use this MSc as a springboard into a part-time DPhil at Oxford and Kellogg.

If you have an interesting story about your road to post-graduate study or your time at Kellogg, that you would like to share with us, please email