Graduates Report – Introduction

What do social science graduates do?

The social sciences – which encompass sociology, politics, economics, law, education, business studies, town planning and many others – “examine and explain human functioning on a variety of interlocking levels, ranging from neural foundations to individual behaviour, group processes and the functioning of entire societies” (European Scientific Foundation 2013).

Graduates in social science subjects offer a wide range of skills that are enormously valuable to employers across the public, private and third sectors. These include the ability to understand complex issues holistically, on individual and cultural and societal levels; research, analyse and evaluate data critically; question assumptions; understand people, institutions and their relationships; understand processes of change; make reasoned arguments; communicate concisely and clearly and solve problems. (For more on skills gained by studying a social science degree, see the Open University Careers Advisory Service 2013.)

But where do social scientists take these skills after graduating? The Campaign for Social Science, with statisticians from the Warwick Institute for Employment Research, has analysed data from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education longitudinal survey conducted by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, and collected case studies from recent graduates, to reveal the destinations of social science graduates at approximately 3.5 years after graduating. The study is based on the latest available longitudinal survey results, namely of graduates who completed full-time and part-time first degree courses in 2008/9  (The survey uses a sample of 62,205 graduates from among the 354,730 who completed an earlier census at 6 months after leaving (called the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Early Survey). It is weighted to account for oversampled sub-groups. For more information see the HESA website.)

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