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What can I do with my degree?: Politics and international relations

From social and political research to journalism and accountancy, a degree in politics and international relations opens up a broad range of career opportunities...

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

Consider volunteering for:

  • political campaigns and political parties;
  • human and civil rights organisations such as Amnesty International;
  • local, national and international environmental and conservation organisations;
  • charities;
  • global development bodies such as WaterAid and Oxfam; and
  • the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Campaigning organisations or pressure groups and UK-based charities with an international presence are particularly suitable for those wishing to pursue an international career.

If you are a student, consider running for office in your university students' union or gaining volunteering experience through the university community and student societies. This demonstrates initiative and can provide leadership experience and opportunities to further develop written and oral communication skills.

Many degree courses offer the opportunity to undertake professional work experience on a placement or sandwich year. Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

Politics and international relations graduates are typically employed by local and national government, councils, charities, accountancy and banking organisations, law firms, retail and media companies.

Other employers include the United Nations (UN), the European Commission, the Civil Service, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), lobbying, campaigning, and voluntary organisations and the public sector in general.

Find information on employers in the charity and voluntary sector, marketing, advertising and PR, public services and administration and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

Studying politics and international relations enables you to develop subject-specific knowledge about different political systems and how to interpret political issues and events. You develop a clear understanding of domestic and international politics, as well as organisations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU). This provides you with a solid understanding of the issues involved in international relations and the significance of politics as a global activity.

A degree in politics and international relations also gives you many useful transferable skills including:

  • the ability to research, source and examine information thoroughly;
  • the ability to critically analyse evidence and construct coherent arguments;
  • excellent written and oratory skills;
  • intellectual independence and autonomy;
  • teamworking skills;
  • a flexible and open-minded approach to work.

Further study

Some graduates choose to undertake postgraduate study in order to further develop their knowledge or to specialise in a particular area. Subjects at Masters level include international relations and European politics, international security, European governance, human rights, politics, environmental politics, and political communication, advocacy and campaigning.

Vocational courses are popular with politics and international relations graduates, particularly courses that qualify graduates to work in careers such as accountancy, journalism, law, management and teaching.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see postgraduate study in the UK and search postgraduate courses

What do politics and international relations graduates do?

Almost two-thirds of politics and international relations graduates are in full-time employment six months after graduation or combining work and study. Professions in the top ten include marketing associate professionals, business associated professionals, and HR and industrial relations officers. Other areas of work may include politics and government, policy work, charity work, journalism, accountancy, social and political research, and education.

Almost a fifth of graduates go on to further study and may choose to specialise in a particular subject or broaden their opportunities and move into careers such as law, journalism or teaching.

Graduate destinations for politics and international relations
Destinations Percentage
Employed 58.9%
Further study 19.0%
Working and studying 6.5%
Unemployed 9.8%
Other 5.8%
Types of work entered in the UK
Business, HR and financial 19.6%
Marketing, PR and sales 15.6%
Retail, catering and bar work 15.5%
Secretarial and numerical clerks 12.7%
Other 36.6%

For a detailed breakdown of what politics graduates are doing six months after graduation, see What Do Graduates Do?  

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Written by AGCAS editors
March 2013

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