Physiology opens up many careers in science and healthcare, with employers such as the NHS or the armed forces

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.

Work experience

It's useful to find 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 can always be proactive and arrange a placement 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.

Any other part-time, vacation or volunteering work which demonstrates your interest in your chosen field, 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 employs clinical physiologists. Further employment opportunities can be found with scientific publishers, educational settings such as secondary schools or colleges - as a science teacher, and 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 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 clinical scientists by undertaking further training and study on the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP).

Others pursue a postgraduate qualification such as an MSc, MRes or PhD in physiology. 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.

It's also possible to move away from pure physiology by studying an MSc or diploma in related subjects such as forensic science or toxicology. Or, you could opt to change career direction by studying something different, such as 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?

Popular roles for those in employment include pharmacists and physiologists. Further study is a popular option for physiology graduates - more than a third are in further study six months after graduation.

DestinationPercentage
Employed54.9
Further study29.1
Working and studying6.3
Unemployed6
Other3.7
Graduate destinations for physiology
Type of workPercentage
Health professionals28.1
Retail, catering and bar work13.4
Childcare, health and education work12.6
Science professionals12.3
Other33.6
Types of work entered in the UK

For a detailed breakdown of what physics graduates are doing six months after graduation, see What do graduates do?

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

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