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What can you do with a social science degree?

We explore just how beneficial a degree in the social sciences can be for your future career

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The term social science refers to subjects like history, sociology, politics, geography, law, psychology and so on. If you studied a social science degree at university, you might be wondering what your career prospects could be. Or perhaps you’re thinking of studying a social science degree, but you want to check out the employment opportunities first. No matter what stage you’re at, you can use this guide to find out more about what to do with a social science degree.


What are the benefits of being a social science graduate?


Transferrable skills


One criticism people often have about the social sciences is that they aren’t directly related to a specific career. However, this can also be seen as an advantage. As a social science graduate, you will acquire a range of transferrable skills which are highly relevant to a range of roles. This is particularly useful for students who aren’t completely sure about what they want to do after university. Check out the following skills gained from a degree in social science:


  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Logical thinking
  • Independent thought and research
  • Cultural awareness
  • Socially conscious
  • Emotional intelligence


Each of these skills are sought after by many different employers. Although your degree might not implicitly relate to a particular job description, you can shape your CV and cover letter to match the requirements based on the skills and knowledge you have gained.


Want to find out more about studying the social sciences at university level?


Create change


The social sciences often overlap in terms of content and school of thought. One major concept that they have in common is trying to better understand and improve society. So, if you are socially conscious and want to improve the world, getting a social science degree will bring you one step closer to your dream career.


Which careers can I do with a social science degree?


While social science degrees don’t have a clearly mapped out career trajectory, there are a range of professions that this degree will qualify you for:


Civil service


Want to work for your government? As a civil servant you will be working on and implementing policies. There are several different departments including health, environment, education and so on. There is no specific degree required to work in the civil service.


Salary per year *


Graduates - GBP 27,000 - 28,000

With experience – GBP 45,000 - 55,000

*Source: Graduate Prospects 2020


Charity officer


Want a fulfilling career that helps others? Working for a charity is one way to achieve this. Depending on your interests, you can choose from several areas of a charity such as marketing, finance, fundraising, public relations and so on. The charity sector can be competitive so you will need to demonstrate your suitability and experience.


Salary per year*


Administration roles: GBP 16,000 - 25,000

Specialist roles: GBP 20,000 - 35,000

Senior positions: GBP 30,000 - 65,000

*Source: Graduate Prospects 2021




To become a lawyer, you don’t necessarily need to study law at undergraduate level. You can study another degree followed by a relevant law qualification such as the Solicitors Qualifying Examination in the UK. A social science degree will equip you with a strong foundation which it is argued, could make you a stronger candidate as you’ll have a wider breadth of knowledge and skills.


Salary per year*


(The salary for a solicitor or barrister varies greatly depending on location, law specialisation and level of experience. For example, law firms in the USA tend to pay some of the highest salaries.)


Trainee solicitor at a top firm: GBP 45,000 - 48,000

Newly qualified solicitors: GBP 27,000 - 60,000

*Source: Prospects 2021


Police officer


If you studied or plan to study criminology, you might be considering a career as a police officer. This degree teaches students about crime, the legal system, crime prevention and the justice system which makes becoming a police officer a logical next step. However, any degree is relevant for the police force and a social sciences degree will provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge for this line of work.


Salary per year*


Police constable starting salary: GBP 20,880 - 24,177

Sergeants: GBP 41,500 - 45,098

Inspectors: GBP 51,414 - 55,768

Chief inspectors: GBP 56,909 - 59,175

*Source: Graduate Prospects 2020


Social worker


As the social sciences tend to focus on people and communities, any degree in this field will equip you a greater understanding of human behaviour which is particularly relevant for the role of a social worker.  


Salary per year*


Newly qualified: GBP 24,000 – 30,000

With experience: GBP 40,000

*Source: Graduate Prospects 2019


Marketing and public relations (PR)


Social science graduates are taught how to effectively communicate both verbally and in writing. This is a vital skill for roles in marketing and PR where ideas and messaging need to be properly communicated to a range of audiences.


PR officers salary per year*


PR starting salary: GBP 18,000 – 24,000

Senior PR officers: GBP 25,000 – 40,000

PR directors: Up to GBP 100,000

*Source: Graduate Prospects 2020


Marketing executive salary per year*


Marketing assistants: GBP 18,000 – 22,000

With experience: GBP 20,000 – 30,000

Senior marketing executives: GBP 30,000 – 60,000

Marketing directors: GBP 60,000 – 100,000

*Source: Graduate Prospects 2019


So, you should now have a better idea of the types of careers that can follow from a social science degree. If you haven’t yet decided on a programme, you can use our course matcher tool to find what’s right for you.

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