New study pinpoints arts, humanities and social science graduates’ skills

Jessop West building at the University of Sheffield

A new study has defined for the first time the skills that graduates from the University of Sheffield develop by studying arts, humanities and social science (AHSS) degrees.

Researchers from the British Academy identified the core skills of arts, humanities and social science graduates as:

  • Communication and collaboration
  • Research and analysis
  • Independence and adaptability

The report found that these skills are often the same as the qualities demanded from employers.

The British Academy report The Right Skills: Celebrating skills in the arts, humanities and social sciences also investigated the destinations of AHSS graduates and found that their core skills equip them to work in a wide range of jobs, from web design to the civil service, teaching to financial services.

With the type of jobs likely to change in the future, flexible and adaptable graduates, many of whom have AHSS degrees, are highly valued by employers, even when their degree is unrelated to the business.
Six months after graduating, 95 per cent of graduates from the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield were in work or further study.* The University of Sheffield graduates go on to work in exciting roles around the world. Companies who have employed Sheffield graduates in the past few years include; AECOM, Barclays, Bentley Motors, Bloomberg, Civil Service, J.P. Morgan, The British Council and various Third or Public Sector organisations.*

95 per cent of Arts and Humanities graduates were in employment or further study six months after leaving.* Companies who have employed Sheffield Arts and Humanities graduates in the past few years include; PwC, English Heritage, British Museum, Wigmore Hall, Opera North, Royal College of Music, Ernest & Young, PwC, KPMG, Tesco, Macmillan Cancer Support, BBC, Random House, HSBC, Bank of England plus a variety of charities and communications, marketing and media organisations.

Nyasha Mangera-Lakew studied history at the University of Sheffield before going on to have a successful career in music and media. After graduating, Nyasha worked at an independent record label before securing a job within music and events at the BBC. She then moved to BBC Radio 1 and Radio 1xtra before promotion within digital strategy at BBC Africa. Nyasha has now set up her own company with a focus on spiritual healing.

James Bingham graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2013 with a degree in music. He then went on to study an MA at the Royal Welsh School of Music and Drama in Cardiff before securing a job at the Glyndebourne opera house in East Sussex. His role primarily focused on engaging with the local community, as an Education Project Coordinator. James now works at Opera North in Leeds as a Choral Delivery Artist., within this role he conducts children’s choirs and runs vocal sessions.

Simon Peach graduated from the University of Sheffield with a first in journalism in 2009. He secured a place on the Press Association's sport traineeship later that year and has since worked himself up to the role of the national news agency's chief football writer, where his main focus is covering Manchester United and England.

Chair of the British Academy project, Professor Sir Ian Diamond FBA FRSE FAcSS said: “The question every arts, humanities and social sciences student has heard at least once is: ‘what are you going to do with that?’ Today our research proves that these graduates have the potential to adapt to almost any career in an increasingly globalised and uncertain world.

“Our research has defined for the first time the skills shared by arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS) graduates, and looks at their careers in almost every sector of our economy, from the booming creative industries to financial services.

“The arts, humanities and social sciences are a strong choice for any prospective student – these subjects create well-rounded and adaptable graduates, equipped with the skills employers demand for the twenty-first century workplace.”

View the British Academy report

*Source: Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (UK) 2015-16

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Sean Barton
Junior Public Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852