Careers for Philosophy graduates

Philosophy degrees and employability

Many prospective students of philosophy, and even more so their parents, are sometimes concerned about the job prospects of philosophy graduates. It is true that ’first destination’ figures, which are collected three months after graduation, often show philosophy graduates towards the bottom of the table. However one reason for this is that many philosophy graduates have rejected the idea of a conventional path through life, and so seek more unusual forms of work, and so take their time to find the right opportunity. Figures are not available for career destinations ten years after graduation but on anecdotal evidence there is reason to think that philosophy graduates are at least as likely to have found satisfying employment as those who have graduated in other disciplines, perhaps rather more so.

PRS Employability Guide

The Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies at the Higher Education Academy have produced an employability guide "Where next? Unlocking the potential of your philosophy degree" aimed at philosophy undergraduates, which can be downloaded in pdf format here

Guardian Education article

Click here for a Guardian Education article (20.11.07) about the employability of Philosophy graduates.

Success Stories

Here we give examples of a number of people who graduated in philosophy in the UK and have achieved a great deal in their subsequent careers away from Philosophy. Some are well-known, others less so. We cannot claim that all philosophy graduates could achieve similar success but the examples do show where a philosophy degree can lead.

  • Liz Barker, Philosophy, Southampton. Blue Peter presenter.
  • Louis de Bernieres, Philosophy, Manchester. Novelist.
  • William Boyd, English and Philosophy, Glasgow. Novelist.
  • Cortina Butler, Philosophy and Psychology, Oxford. Global Editor, Reader’s Digest Books.
  • Mike Brearley, Philosophy, Cambridge. Former England cricket captain, currently a psycho-analyst.
  • Gavin Bryars, Philosophy, Sheffield. Musician and composer.
  • David Cameron MP, PPE, Oxford. Leader of Conservative Party and Prime Minister since 2010
  • Peter Clarke, Philosophy, Sussex. Children’s Commissioner for Wales.
  • Sir Nigel Crisp, Philosophy Cambridge. Chief Executive of the National Health Service.
  • Seb Dance, Philosophy and Politics, Manchester. Parliamentary Researcher, and co-founder of ’blog-site’ ’re.engage’.
  • Steve Day, Philosophy, Liverpool. Britain’s only deaf stand up comedian (If there are any others, he hasn’t heard.)
  • Jonathan Dimbleby, Philosophy, UCL. Broadcaster and author.
  • Pascal Etcheber, Philosophy Exeter. International Management Consultant, and co-author of Managing Sensitive Projects: A Lateral Approach
  • Ken Follett, Philosophy, UCL. Best-selling thriller writer.
  • Michael Frayn, Philosophy Cambridge. Playwright.
  • Rickey Gervais, Philosophy, UCL. Comedian, writer and actor.
  • Winston Fletcher, Philosophy, Cambridge. Advertising executive and author.
  • Patricia Gonsalves, Philosophy and Cultural Studies, London, Executive Director Greenwich Mediation Centre.
  • Charles Handy, Classics, History and Philosophy, Oxford. Business consultant and leading management theorist.
  • William Hague MP, PPE, Oxford. Former leader of Conservative Party
  • Oliver Letwin, MP, Philosophy and History, Cambridge. Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
  • Fr Konrad Loewenstein, PPE, Oxford. Priest of the Fraternity of Saint Peter.
  • Henry McDonald, Philosophy, Queen’s Belfast. Political columnist, Observer newspaper.
  • Michael Mansfield, QC, Philosophy and History, Keele. Leading criminal defence lawyer.
  • Tim Mason, Philosophy and Literature, Warwick. Director of Marketing, Tesco.
  • Sir Nicholas Montague, PPE Oxford. Recently retired as Chairman of the Inland Revenue.
  • Graham Moore, Philosophy and Literature, Warwick. Chief Constable of West Yorkshire.
  • Shereen Nanjiani, Philosophy, Glasgow. Scottish TV news reader.
  • Matthew Parish, Philosophy, Cambridge. Lawyer and Counsel at the World Bank, Washington, DC.
  • Nick Rosen, Philosophy, Exeter. Award winning TV producer.
  • John Pugh MP, Philosophy, Durham, Liberal Democratic member of parliament for Southport.
  • Domhnall Ruadh, Philosophy and Drama, Edinburgh. Actor, writer and director in Gaelic and English radio, theatre, T. V. and film.
  • Jonathan Sacks, Philosophy, Cambridge. Chief Rabbi.
  • Joe Simpson, English and Philosophy, Edinburgh. Mountaineer and author of Touching the Void.
  • John Stammers, Philosophy, King’s College, London. Poet; winner of Forward Prize for Best First Collection for his first book of poems (2001) and Poetry Book Society winter choice for a more recent collection.
  • John Suchet, Philosophy & Politics, St Andrews/Dundee. Broadcaster and biographer of Beethoven.
  • Lord (Dick) Taverne QC, Philosophy and Ancient History, Oxford. Long and distinguished legal and political career.
  • Alexander Thynne, Marquess of Bath, PPE Oxford. Britain’s most eccentric peer.
  • Dominic Willsdon, MA, PhD Essex. Curator of Public Events at Tate Modern.
  • Phil Woolas, Philosophy, Manchester. MP, Minister for Local Government.