Degree subjects

What can I do with a politics degree?

25 Jan 2023, 13:38

You might be interested in a career in central or local government, the Civil Service or charity work after finishing your politics degree, but there are also plenty of other careers open to you, including law and business.

Feature image What can I do with a politics degree?

Politics students tend to be up to speed with current affairs and interested in leadership and the ways in which ideas and principles are put into action – attitudes that can be useful in the workplace. They are typically enthusiastic about their subject, opinionated and hardworking, and used to arguing a case and presenting their views. Many politics graduates go on to further study, often in specialised areas of politics such as international relations and international human rights. Others pursue careers in areas such as business, HR and finance.

Skills for your CV

The kind of skills you will have developed include:

  • gathering information, assessing and interpreting it
  • leading and participating in discussions and groups
  • organising workloads and working to deadlines
  • developing opinions and ideas
  • essay writing, presentation and analytical skills
  • reading pages of text and picking out the essential points
  • stating a case
  • solving problems
  • assimilating facts
  • expressing yourself clearly (certainly in writing, and probably in person too)

Job roles and career areas you could work in

Fresh out of university, there are plenty of options – public services, the Civil Service and local government, non-governmental organisation (NGO) work, and research.

Even with a minimum amount of training, many organisations are looking for enthusiastic graduates fresh from university. Potential career paths could include:

What do politics graduates go on to do?

Here’s what politics graduates who finished their degrees in 2017 were doing six months after graduating, according to the What do graduates do? report published in 2018.

Destination Percentage
Full-time employment in the UK 45.6
Part-time employment in the UK 8.7
Working overseas 3.1
Working and studying 6.6
Further study 24.4
Unemployed 5.8
Other 5.8

Source: What do graduates do? 2018

Key areas of employment for fresh politics graduates

These are the top five areas of work taken up by 2017 politics graduates six months after graduation, according to the 2018 What do graduates do? report.

Areas of employment Percentage
Business, HR and finance professionals 22.8
Marketing, PR and sales professionals 15.4
Retail, catering, waiting and bar staff 12.9
Clerical, secretarial and numerical clerks 9.2
Other occupations 7.3

Source: What do graduates do? 2018

Which careers attract politics students?

Law (barristers) was the most popular career choice for students of social studies subjects, a group that includes politics, identified by a 2020 survey of more than 71,000 undergraduates carried out by Cibyl (a research business owned by the same company as targetjobs). Just over a quarter ( 25.7% ) of politics students who participated in the survey said they were interested in this area. The most popular careers for students of social studies subjects were as follows:

Career Percentage
Law – barristers 25.7% expressed an interest
Public sector 25.4
Investment banking and investment 20.9
Banking, insurance and financial services 19
Charity and not-for-profit 16

Source: Graduate Survey 2020

What salaries can politics graduates earn?

Want to know what graduates in your degree discipline typically earn in different locations? The Pay Index has provided targetjobs with a handy graduate salary tool showing just that.

Famous people with politics degrees

While some politics graduates do get elected into positions of power, it's possible to turn your degree into a successful career without making politics your life’s work. Consider the following celebrities:

  • George Alagiah – the BBC newsreader studied at Durham University, where he developed his interest in journalism.
  • Tim Farron – studied at Newcastle University before being elected as an MP and going on to become leader of the Liberal Democrats.
  • Miranda Hart – studied political science at the University of the West of England before becoming a comedian and actress.
  • Barack Obama – put his political science degree to good use when he was elected president of the US.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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