Careers in social science for postgraduates - ESRC

Many social science postgraduates continue with an academic career, but your studies will give you the skills to work in a range of jobs in many sectors.

Jobs social science postgraduates do

Data from the Longitudinal Survey of the Destinations of Leavers of Higher Education show that:

  • 6 months after graduating, 66% of leavers were in employment in the UK and 17% were working overseas – increasing after three years to 71% and 18% respectively
  • 255 social sciences respondents described 58 different career paths,with 63% following five common pathways over the survey period
  • the most common job, for social sciences respondents, was teaching and lecturing in higher education (40%, increasing to 42% over 3 years), and 31% stayed in these jobs throughout the survey period
  • 77 per cent of social science respondents were working as lecturers,
  • 12 per cent had professorial posts
  • 3 per cent were working as teaching assistants
  • 10 per cent of social sciences respondents worked in other common doctoral occupations throughout the three years.

The 2011 Vitae report, What do researchers do? has useful information about jobs for doctoral graduates.

Skills postgraduates acquire

Social science postgraduate study equips you for a range of jobs. Some of the skills are:

  • putting together reasoned arguments and questioning assumptions
  • understanding the processes of change in society and its institutions
  • drawing together, analysing and critically evaluating information
  • communicating concisely, clearly and accurately with others
  • using information and communication technologies to research,
  • identify and present information
  • managing time and taking on responsibility for your own development
    responding positively to critical feedback
  • interpreting, using and evaluating data.

As well as working in universities and colleges, doctoral graduates play an important role in UK businesses. Employers value your specialist knowledge, research skills and your ability to problem-solve.

Last updated: 19 November 2021

NOTE Council web content is being transitioned to this website – let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.