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BSc (Hons) Archaeology

Falklands War veteran, Sean, left school in 1972 to join the Royal Navy at 15 years old.

After serving for 24 years, Sean left the Navy and pursued a career as a civilian commercial diver. He was subsequently diagnosed with late-onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), due to his experience during the war.

Now at the age of 67, Sean has found therapy for his mental health condition by studying BSc (Hons) Archaeology at Bradford.

This is Sean's story.

Tragic circumstances

"I really felt I needed to do something."

"I was serving on HMS Glamorgan during the Falklands War when it was struck by a missile. Thirteen of my shipmates passed away.

"After being diagnosed with PTSD, I was no longer permitted to dive or supervise others diving. I found myself without a purpose.

"My father was then diagnosed with terminal cancer, and I found purpose in caring for him until his death. However, after his death, I really questioned what was the point in going on."

A student smiling at the camera

Life intervention

"I believe archaeology saved my life."

"I connected with Operation Nightingale, a Ministry of Defence initiative that assists in the recovery of wounded, injured, and sick military personnel and veterans, by getting them involved in archaeological investigations.

"I also got in touch with Breaking Ground Heritage, a charity directed by an armed forces veteran with similar aims."

"I've had a life-long interest in archaeology, so this sounded ideal to me: I'd get to meet with other veterans who had similar backgrounds, experiences, and mental health issues as myself.

"We'd get to dig and look into the past together, overseen and tutored by professional archaeologists.

"It saved my life."


"When I dig, I go into my own world."

"When I was excavating with other veterans, I found that I would mentally retreat into a zone where concentration was key. All other thoughts and memories would recede.

"I can only compare it to diving; when your helmet leaves the surface, you are in a different zone mentally. Whatever issues you have just go away.

"When I was digging with Operation Nightingale and Breaking Ground Heritage, it was one of the first times I could forget about the war, the memories of the missile attack, and the loss of my shipmates."

A student smiling at the camera

"Whilst excavating various sites with Operation Nightingale, someone said I had a real knack for archaeology, and suggest that I apply to study for a degree in the subject."

For the love of it

"Going back to university at nearly 70 years old was a daunting prospect."

"What would I do with a degree at my age anyway?

"But then the penny dropped; it wasn't about getting a job at the end, it was just about doing something that I genuinely love and had a passion for.

"I also got to spend three weeks on a University dig in the Orkney Islands.

"I've been on telly a few times, talking about my experiences as a veteran undertaking archaeology, on the shows 'Digging for Britain' and 'The Great British Dig'."

Past, present, and future

"I've loved going to university as a mature student."

"I feel very proud that I achieved a first in my first year. I particularly enjoy the research we have to put in for essays, although writing essays isn't my favourite!

"I'm on the four-year course, and currently in my second year. In my third year, I will do a year-long internship with Operation Nightingale before completing the degree at Bradford.

"My hope is that I will eventually work as a full-time member of staff or volunteer at Operation Nightingale, mentoring other veterans through archaeological investigations."

A student smiling at the camera

Bradford has made student life as an adult learner easy. The support has been fantastic throughout.

This is my destiny

"Archaeology has given me a sense of purpose."

"In this later stage of life, I have finally found my calling. I now have a mission, which is to help other veterans through archaeology."

Interested in studying Archaeology?

Find out more about our course, entry requirements, and how to apply.