Department of Politics

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There are lots of starting points for choosing a career and using your subject is just one of them. You are not restricted to the career ideas below and you may wish to consider additional factors which are important to you for your future career using our Understand yourself and your options section.

Remember too that the vast majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any subject and so your options are much broader than the examples given below.

Firstly, have a think about what ‘using your subject’ means to you and what you’re really looking for. Do you want to apply your subject-specific knowledge or skills to the real world? Or maybe you want to continue to practice and develop these skills? Maybe it’s a broader interest in your subject that you want to keep alive by working in a relevant type of organisation?

Using your subject can help provide you with some focus for your career research, but the broader your interests the more career options you will have open to you. Use our resources below to stimulate your thinking.

Generating career ideas with Politics

Using the resources below you can start to create your own list of career ideas to research

  • Look at what alumni from your department have done using the DLHE data we collect and through the University of Sheffield alumni page on LinkedIn.
  • Search for and contact alumni in your subject through our Graduate case studies database.
  • Browse the career ideas for Politics/International Relations graduates on Prospects and TargetJobs but keep in mind that these are not a comprehensive list of all the careers related to your subject.
  • Brainstorm ideas and do some initial investigation to find out about research, organisations, start ups, government bodies and freelancers connected to your subject. Our Information resources - Occupations section is a good place to start.

Some career ideas for Politics/International Relations graduates

Here is just one example of the diverse range of careers you can enter. Tom is a History and politics graduate, now working for the Civil Service.

Manager / Administrator

Management and delivery of an organisation’s services, including management of staff and resources, development of policy or services, and project management. Graduate level roles exist in National and Local Government (e.g. the UK Civil Service and local councils), other public sector bodies (e.g. health and emergency services), private sector businesses and not-for-profit organisations (e.g. charities and campaign groups).

Entry is via trainee management schemes or individual jobs and internships.

Charity officer / campaigner / fundraiser

Related to general administration, charity officers work in the management of charities, campaign groups and other NGOs. The work can include marketing, volunteer co-ordination, and fundraising, as well as project management and support. A background in volunteering is vital in order to secure paid employment, and is especially valuable if you have worked with groups related to your area of interest.

Diplomatic services and foreign affairs

Specialist roles exist in the implementation of national governments’ foreign policy and diplomatic services.

The purpose is to protect and promote their national interests, with diplomatic staff working both in their home country and abroad. Jobs for new graduates may exist within the relevant departments of individual national governments, but this can vary country by country.

International aid / development worker

Involves finding solutions to problems in different parts of the developing world. Issues addressed are diverse, including governance, healthcare, education, equality, relief work, economic and infrastructure development, human rights, conflict and the environment.

Types of work include research, consultancy, project management/delivery and administration. Many positions require specific expertise although opportunities do exist for graduates. Volunteering abroad to build experience and contacts is usually necessary while relevant postgraduate study can also be helpful.

Broadcast / print journalist

Researches and presents information for different news media including television, radio, print and the web. While many journalists cover a wide variety of stories, it is possible to eventually specialise in politics and international relation.

The route in for most people is via a relevant qualification in journalism plus work experience, although direct entry traineeships can occur. Related roles in current affairs media include programme researcher and production assistant.

Risk analyst / political risk analyst

Gathers information on the political, social and economic conditions in different countries or regions, to advise on issues which may affect business or investments in that location. Provides the findings to clients and may advise on solutions for overcoming any risks.

Risk analysts work for international organisations, financial services companies, commercial businesses, or specialist research and business consultancies. Political risk consultancy often requires a master’s qualification and initial entry is often via an internship.

Intelligence and security work

Employed by national governments to identify, assess and counter threats to national security.

Other employers include the military, police forces and specialist security consultancies. Routes into work with national governments’ intelligence and security services will vary according to the country concerned, while security consultants will usually need to have existing experience in security issues.

Social / political researcher

Designs and conducts social, economic or political research projects, preparing and disseminating reports, and making recommendations to influence relevant policy or action. Employers include national and local governments, intergovernmental organisations, universities, research institutes, market research agencies, polling organisations, trades unions etc.

Entry-level posts for graduates exist, especially if your degree or master’s has a social research methods component.

Politician and politician's assistant

Campaigns for and represents particular political views or groups at local, national and international level. Politicians come from a variety of professional backgrounds but are usually active in a political party or a representative body (e.g. a trades union or a campaign group).

Politician’s assistants provide administrative support and help with research, publicity and campaigning, and may also be referred to as parliamentary/constituency assistants, personal assistants, or research assistants.

Public affairs consultant

Provides information and advice on public policy and political issues. They research social, economic and political issues and monitor developments using personal contacts and the media. Clients may be businesses, not-for-profit organisations, trade bodies, and national governments.

It is possible to enter the work via graduate schemes or internships.

Public relations and communications

Involves the communication of key messages about organisations, companies and individuals to the public and media. PR/communications staff advise clients and promote a positive image of them using press releases, press conferences, newsletters, relevant websites and social media, and other corporate communications.

Entry can be via graduate schemes, internships or following related experience in the media or marketing.

Subject specific resources

  • PSA - Political Studies Association