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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 too

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 is also useful.

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 cardiac sciences, audiology, neurophysiology, critical care science, respiratory physiology, sleep physiology and gastrointestinal (GI) physiology;
  • private sector hospitals, medical centres and healthcare organisations.

The armed forces also employ clinical physiologists. Opportunities are also available with scientific publishers, in secondary schools or colleges as a science teacher, or with scientific sales and marketing companies.

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 helps you 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.

You also gain a wide range of skills sought by both scientific and non-scientific employers, including:

  • analytical and problem-solving;
  • using judgement, decision-making and questioning;
  • the ability to identify, select, organise and communicate information and data;
  • computing, statistics and numeracy;
  • 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 dentistry. There are graduate fast-track courses available at some UK universities.

Some go on to become healthcare scientists (also known as clinical scientists) by undertaking further training and study on the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP).

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?

More than half of physiology graduates are in employment six months after graduation, while just over a third are in further study or combining study and work.

Graduate destinations for physiology
Destinations Percentage
Employed 54.0%
Further study 31.2%
Working and studying 5.0%
Unemployed 5.8%
Other 4.1%
Types of work entered in the UK
Health professionals 26.6%
Secretarial and numerical clerks 11.1%
Childcare, health and education work 9.9%
Retail, catering and bar work 9.6%
Other 42.8%

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 2015

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