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School of Social and Political Science: Undergraduate study

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Options with Social and Political Science

Many people undergo postgraduate study to further their careers in a particular area and some choose to do work that is closely related to their degree.

Careers related to Social and Political Science

This is an introductory guide to areas of work which are directly or closely related to Social and Political Science.

It is intended as a starting point, not an exhaustive list of your options. Please come and talk to staff at the Careers Service about how you can identify career options that interest you.

Social Research

Social researchers plan, design and manage social research projects. They often work in government, at national or local level or for other reseach agencies. Student and graduates with an interest in and experience of using research methodologies can start to find out about careers in social research here:

UK Civil Service Fast Stream

The UK Civil Service opens up recruitment for the Fast Stream on September 20th, for those who wish to work in all major central government departments such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Home Office, Education and Environment. (The Department for International Development tends not to recruit through the Fast Stream.)

Specialist streams exist for those who want to be Government Researchers, Economists or Statisticians and for those who want to work in Northern Ireland or Europe. 

Students and graduates of any discipline can apply to most opportunities, but you will need to be in your final year of study and, in most cases, be a UK citizen.

Public Sector

In addition to the Civil Service, positions in local, national and international government, education and the NHS can utilise an interest in policy, politics and administration.

Academia

For many people, postgraduate study is the starting point from which they work towards an academic career. The publication 'What do PhDs do?' indicated that 66% of Social Science Doctoral graduates were working in Education, predominantly Higher Education.

Not all postgraduates want to work in academia, but those who do need to work hard to be successful in a competitive market. During your PhD look to produce publications, tutor, lecture, attend conferences, present at conferences, assist your department with administration or event organisation, apply for funding and more.

You can also find out more about working in academia via the Careers Service website:

International Development

Development work encompasses a wide range of jobs, covering such areas as administration, research, fundraising and relief work, as well as professional roles in health, medicine, planning and engineering, as well as emergency planning.

Additional career options

What you have studied is only one factor in your career choice. Your individual skills, experience, interests, motivations, values and personal circumstances all play a part. Some people enjoy their discipline but choose not to use the specific knowledge as a fundamental aspect of what they then go on to do.

The skills developed from high level academic study can transfer to any number of different career areas. For this reason, the majority of graduate employers in the UK welcome applications from graduates of any discipline.

Previous graduates from Social and Political Science have moved into Journalism, PR, Law, Finance, Marketing and Teaching, amongst many other fields.

Edinburgh Students