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What can I do with my degree?: Physiology

Physiology looks at the bigger biological picture, opening up many careers in science and healthcare, but there are other routes you can take...

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include: 

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here. To find out what jobs would suit you, log in to My Prospects.

Work experience

It is useful to get pre-entry work experience in an area related to the career you'd like to enter. A placement in a hospital department is valuable when applying for clinical physiology posts. Some degrees offer this type of experience as part of the course but you could also arrange it yourself. Visit hospital departments or make speculative applications for placements in relevant departments and clinics.

Laboratory experience and knowledge of the range of techniques used can also be helpful, particularly for research posts.

Other part-time, vacation or volunteering work which shows your interest in the career area will also be helpful.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

The major scientific employers of physiology graduates are:

  • research centres and academic institutions;
  • pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies;
  • the National Health Service (NHS) - specialist areas include cardiology, audiology, neurophysiology, critical care, respiratory physiology and gastro-intestinal (GI) physiology;
  • private sector hospitals, medical centres and healthcare organisations.

The armed forces also employ clinical physiologists.

Non-scientific employers include:

  • management consultancies;
  • law and accountancy firms;
  • banks and other financial institutions;
  • retail companies.

Find information on employers in healthcare, science and pharmaceuticals, teaching and education and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

Studying physiology enables you to develop skills in planning, conducting/evaluating experiments, and researching and interpreting scientific literature. You also develop the ability to communicate science to both peers and non-scientists.

In addition, you gain a wide range of skills highly sought by employers, including:

  • analytical and problem-solving skills;
  • using judgement, decision-making and questioning;
  • the ability to identify, select, organise and communicate information and data;
  • computing, statistics and numeracy skills;
  • attention to detail;
  • planning, organisation and time management;
  • teamworking and collaborating between groups;
  • persistence and resilience to retry experiments. 

Further study

Some graduates choose to undertake a second undergraduate degree, such as medicine or veterinary medicine. There are graduate fast-track medical courses available at some UK universities.

Others continue their interest in physiology through a postgraduate qualification such as an MSc, MRes or PhD. In academia, a PhD is generally required to obtain a lectureship. In industry, some large employers, such as major pharmaceutical companies, may sponsor a relevant part-time Masters or PhD.

Some graduates move away from pure physiology through an MSc or diploma in related subjects such as forensic science or toxicology, while others change direction studying something different, e.g. law or computing.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses.

What do physiology graduates do?

Well over half of physiology graduates are in employment. Nearly a third are in further study, either carrying it out full time or part time while working.

Graduate destinations for physiology
Destinations Percentage
Employed 59.9%
Further study 25.8%
Working and studying 5.2%
Unemployed 4.6%
Other 4.5%
Types of work entered in the UK
Health professionals 27.3%
Caring and education work 14.6%
Retail, catering and bar work 10%
Secretarial and numerical clerks 9.5%
Other 38.6%

Find out what other graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What Do Graduates Do?  

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Written by AGCAS editors
September 2013

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