Careers for Philosophers
Studying Philosophy offers excellent preparation for a career in a wide variety of different fields, in addition to being immensely enjoyable for its own sake. We are concerned to help our students develop beyond their undergraduate degree, whether that is into employment outside the University or further study in Philosophy or another subject.
Careers outside Philosophy
For those leaving the academic world after graduation, employment prospects for those who have studied Philosophy are comparable to those for Arts Faculty subjects in general.
In a recent survey of Philosophy graduates two and five years after graduating, all were in employment, and in an interesting and varied range of careers including:
This diversity is explained in part by the fact that studying Philosophy provides students with transferable skills such as the ability to summarize information clearly and accurately, to think critically and independently, and to define tasks and objectives. Those surveyed also spoke enthusiastically about how having done Philosophy had helped them in their careers.
The Careers Service also has lots of information about career options for Philosophy graduates.
‘Philosophy degrees and famous or successful people who have ‘em’ is a blog page linking to articles about how beneficial a philosophy degree can be to one's career, and has been to the careers of many famous individuals.
Carrying on in Philosophy
In a competitive field, a postgraduate degree will often give you the edge. Many of our graduates go on to further study, either in Sheffield or in other departments in the UK and abroad. The most common next step in postgraduate work is to take an MA and our department offers an MA in Philosophy (allowing you to specialise in any of a wide range of areas of the subject), and interdisciplinary MAs in Political Theory and Cognitive Studies. Sheffield has a very strong, yet friendly, graduate school, with one of the best programmes in the country; students often go straight on to a PhD from the MA. Staff can also advise on other Philosophy departments, for those thinking of leaving Sheffield after your first degree.
Postgraduate student, Patrick Connolly, did his BA in Philosophy at Sheffield and chose to stay on to study for his MA in Philosophy.
We offer scholarships to new undergraduate students starting their first degree at the University, with the intention to go on to the MA here straight afterwards.
What our alumni say
Ben Arscott, BA History and Philosophy
"Studying philosophy has helped me to think more critically and methodically. The four years I spent being taught philosophy have equipped me with life-long skills of being able to rigorously analyse information and problem-solve. The depth and precision of analysis required in philosophy has made all subsequent analysis in the workplace seem straightforward by comparison!
Studying at Sheffield allowed me to walk straight into a job after graduation. The department's student-run educational outreach programme, Philosophy in the City, gave me hours of experience to apply what I had learnt and develop skills of facilitating debates. Ultimately, it was the volunteering I did with Philosophy in the City, which led to me being offered a teacher-training job.
I graduated in 2012 and am now Subject Leader for Religion and Philosophy at a Comprehensive school."
Tamlyn Griggs, BA Philosophy and Psychology
"Philosophy was a great subject for me as it opened me up to new perspectives and encouraged questioning and understanding of the way things are. I really believe it has had a big part to play in thinking for myself.
3 years on from graduating, I work as an Operations Manager at a global marketing agency. My role is varied and involves training, people management, process improvement, and developing and implementing global initiatives for my department.
Skills from my degree are most useful day to day in questioning structures that are already in place to improve them, and also in understanding the viewpoints of different people in order to communicate well and navigate the best way of getting things done."
Preparing for a career
While at the University, you should take the following steps to prepare for your future career:
- Make contact with the Careers Service, and be aware of what they have to offer.
- Make use of the Personal Development Plan to identify what skills you can learn through studying for your degree, such as IT skills, or oral skills developed in seminar discussions and presentations.
- Plan in advance, and be well prepared for opportunities that come up.
- Think about who you would like to use in the Department as your referee. (This should obviously be someone who knows you reasonably well, such as your Personal Advisor, or one of your lecturers.)
- The Department regularly holds one or more careers information days throughout the academic year, inviting back ex-Philosophy students who now have careers to come and talk about their experiences and to offer advice: this is a helpful event for you to attend.
Our Departmental careers advisor is Tom Cochrane, who would be happy to see you to discuss any questions you might have.