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What can I do with a degree in Politics and International Relations?
Politics and international relations careers
The jobs listed below are a selection of those which may interest Politics and International Relations students and graduates and offer the opportunity to use your degree directly.
Civil Service Fast Stream Administrator
The Fast Stream is a development programme designed to prepare graduates for careers at the highest levels of the Civil Service and Diplomatic Service.
Job profile of an Civil Service Fast Streamer from the Prospects website
Job profile of a Civil Service administrator from the TARGET Jobs website
Job profile of a diplomat from the TARGET Jobs website
Civil Service Fast Stream website
European Union Administrator/Policy Officer
Work in the EU institutions, including the European Commission and European Parliament, to draft policy analysis, implement projects and programmes of work across Europe, co-ordinate work across departments and with external stakeholders, support decision-makers and manage human and financial resources.
Health Service Manager
Responsible for the strategic, financial and day-to-day running of health services in both the NHS and the private sector, including hospitals, general practices and community health services. Managers liaise with clinical and non-clinical staff and other partner organisations, while considering the demands of political policy and local circumstances. Managerial roles in the health sector include those in finance, human resources (HR), clinical management, staff management, project management and procurement, information management, facilities management, and operational management
Human Rights Officer
Works for inter-governmental or non-governmental organisations ranging from the United Nations and Amnesty to small charities and campaigning bodies. The work may involve monitoring and reporting on human rights issues with a view to bringing them to the attention of decision makers, the media and the wider public in order to end human rights violations and provide justice to their victims. Human rights work is wide-ranging: for further information see “I Want to Work In Human Rights”
Intelligence officers work to protect UK national security and to detect and prevent serious organised crime through the acquisition, evaluation, analysis and assessment of secret intelligence.
International Development Worker
International development workers focus on sustainable and long-term solutions to problems in the developing world. They will work across numerous areas such as education, healthcare, governance, human rights and many more.
This offers a broad range of careers, both generalist (manager, officer, administrator etc.) and specialist (such as finance, education, human resources). Graduates in local government are responsible for the development and implementation of the local authority’s policies and procedures, ensuring that they are delivered effectively and offer value for money.
Politicians' assistants provide administrative and research support to elected politicians. The work may involve liaison with constituents, the politician’s party, the media and other bodies; diary management and campaigning.
Political Party Agent
Support MPs by organising campaigns, promotional and fundraising activities at constituency level. Also responsible for administrative issues such as finance and ensuring compliance with electoral law.
Work for political parties, think-tanks, trades unions, charities, businesses and public bodies to monitor government legislation and policy as well as general political developments and to advise their clients on issues arising from these that may affect them.
Public Affairs Consultant
Public affairs consultants use their understanding of the political system to offer political and public policy advice. Some consultants specialise in either lobbying or research. Their clients may include private sector companies, trade associations, charities, not-for-profit organisations and overseas governments.
Job profile of a public affairs consultant from the Prospects website
Job profile of a public affairs consultant (lobbyist) from the TARGET Jobs website
Job profile of a public affairs consultant (research) from the TARGET Jobs website
Trade Union Research Officer
Collects, analyses and disseminates information on social, economic and political issues to support the activities and strategic development of trades unions
As well as teaching through lectures and seminars, academic staff in higher education also carry out research and a wide range of administrative and pastoral tasks. Although a teaching qualification is not required, you will need a higher degree, normally a PhD. Competition is strong for entry-level academic posts.
Please note that some of these careers may require further study.
For further information on these careers, see also:
- I Want To Work In
- Information on types of jobs from Prospects
- Information on career sectors from TargetJobs
People in some Politics and International Relations roles may be self-employed
Thank you to Prospects for the content on these pages.
Politics and International Relations is a highly versatile degree and graduates in this subject go on into a wide range of career areas. However, your degree subject may be particularly useful in the following career areas because the skills it develops are likely to be important to do these jobs.
One of the most important activities in charities is fundraising but there is a wide range of others, from applying for grants or managing volunteers to providing advice and information to clients. Charities recruit into a variety of roles including project management; finance; marketing; public relations and volunteer management. In smaller charities, staff may undertake multiple tasks.
Job profile of a charity officer from the Prospects website
Job profile of a charity fundraiser from the Prospects website
Job profile of a charities administrator from the TARGET Jobs website
Job profile of a charities fundraiser from the TARGET Jobs website
I Want to Work in: A Charity
Manages housing services for bodies such as housing associations, local authorities and other accommodation providers. May work with specific clients, such as homeless people, ex-offenders or people with disabilities. The role may involve team management responsibilities and participation in more strategic projects
Journalists research, write and present stories, features and articles across a range of media platforms – newspapers, magazines, television, radio and internet. Experience gained in student journalism will be helpful in breaking into this area.
Library and information staff manage, organise, evaluate and disseminate information. In specialist libraries (such as the House of Commons library) or universities. Politics and International Relations graduates may be able to use their subject knowledge directly.
Job profile of an academic librarian from the Prospects website
Job profile of an academic librarian from the TARGET Jobs website
Job profile of a public librarian from the Prospects website
Job profile of a public librarian from the TARGET Jobs website
Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals
I Want to Work In: Librarianship and Archives
Risk managers are responsible for managing risks (including security, information, political and social risks) to an organisation and its employees, customers, reputation and stakeholders. They identify and assess threats, put plans in place for if things go wrong and decide how to avoid, reduce or transfer risks.
Job profile of a risk manager from the Prospects website
I Want to Work In: Risk
Solicitors provide expert legal support and advice to clients (who may be individuals, groups, public sector organisations or private companies), take instructions from clients and advise on necessary courses of legal action. Non-law graduates can enter the legal profession after a one-year conversion course, which in some cases may be funded by future employers.
You may be interested in graduate roles outside of Politics and International Relations. There are many employers who are looking for graduates with good degrees but that don’t have a preference for the subject studied. To explore different career options see:
Employers related to Politics and International Relations
Below are a selection of sites for employers related to Politics and International Relations. See also the jobs boards under “Find a Job” for further useful links.
- UK Parliament website Includes lists of MPs and political parties (with links to their websites) and information about working for Parliament. Also has links to devolved parliaments and assemblies.
- Public Affairs Jobs “If you are a student or intern looking for your first paid job in a policy or public affairs role, you can give yourself the best possible chance of landing a role by reading our articles covering what kinds of jobs are out there, where they can be found, how to deliver an outstanding interview, and much more besides”.
- PubAffairs (Public Affairs Networking) Network for the public affairs, government relations, policy and communications industry. The site includes a guide to working in public affairs, job profiles and the GraduateForward jobs board.
European Institutions and Related Employers
- European Civil Service website
- European Personnel Selection Office
- Work in a an EU country
- EuroBrussels jobs in European affairs and international relations
For full details of these and other European organisations and the opportunities they offer, together with further information on careers in international organisations, see here
Other International Organisations
- UN Careers career options, career paths, internships, how to apply, etc.
- Explore a career with the UN
- UN Jobs For current vacancies in the UN (at all levels). This can be searched by organisation, location, etc.
- Cosmopolitalians Information for students, graduates and young professionals regarding jobs, internships, scholarships and volunteering opportunities all over the world, especially in European and International Organisations
For full details of these and other international organisations and the opportunities they offer, together with further information on careers in international organisations, see here
Please note that the descriptions in the following listing are taken from the think-tanks’ websites and do not reflect the opinion of the Careers and Employability Service at the University of Kent.
- Adam Smith Institute Works to promote libertarian and free market ideas through research, publishing, media commentary, and educational programmes
- Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion The Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) is an ESRC Research Centre, core-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council since October 1997.
- CFE Research Independent not-for-profit company specialising in providing research and evaluation services across a broad field of education, employment and skills
- Centre for European Reform A think-tank devoted to making the European Union work better and strengthening its role in the world
- Centre for Policy Studies The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) develops and promotes policies to limit the role of the state, to encourage enterprise and to enable the institutions of society … to flourish.
- Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs Independent policy institute whose mission is to be a world-leading source of independent analysis, informed debate and influential ideas on how to build a prosperous and secure world for all.
- David Hume Institute Non-politically aligned charity and company limited by guarantee aiming to promote the use of evidence in policy making.
- DEMOS “Britain’s leading cross-party think-tank”
- European Policy Centre Independent, not-for-profit think tank dedicated to fostering European integration through analysis and debate.
- The Fabian Society Britain’s oldest political think-tank, founded in 1884. Developing political ideas and public policy on the left.
- The Federal Trust The Federal Trust is a think-tank that studies the interactions between regional, national, European and global levels of government.
- Foreign Policy Centre Independent foreign affairs think-tank which aims to develop policy ideas and inclusive partnerships that promote a fairer world.
- Institute for Development Studies leading global institution for development research, teaching and learning, and impact and communications, based at the University of Sussex.
- International Institute for Environment and Development International development and environment policy research organisation
- International Institute of Strategic Studies The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) is the world’s leading authority on global security, political risk and military conflict.
- Institute for Public Policy Research “the UK’s leading progressive think-tank”
- Joseph Rowntree Foundation works for social change in the UK by researching the root causes of social problems and developing solutions
- National Centre for Social Research Britain’s largest independent social research agency.
- New Policy Institute research institute which produces evidence-based research on a range of social and economic issues
- Policy Exchange Independent think-tank whose mission is to develop and promote new policy ideas which deliver better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy
- Policy Studies Institute Research on environment and sustainability-related policy
- The Smith Institute Independent ‘think tank’ which promotes progressive policies for a fairer society.
- Social Market Foundation Independent, non-politically aligned public policy think-tank whose work spans public service reform and the social market economy.
- Department for International Development (DfID) Government department with the aim of promoting sustainable development and eliminating world poverty. Runs a Graduate Development Scheme
- Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) “Young Professionals Programme” for Masters graduates
- Overseas Development Institute Independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues. Offers internships for postgraduates.
- UN "Junior Professional Officers" A Masters degree in a development-related subject is required
- Getting into International Development Forum for those developing careers in International Development from The Careers Group, University of London
- BOND (British Overseas NGOs for Development) Network of over 190 UK-based voluntary organisations working in international development. Includes jobs directory
- Crown Agents An international development company that recruits for over 100 overseas governments, public bodies and international aid agencies. They recruit graduate trainees in supply chain, consultancy and project management
- News and opinion from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, including vacancies
- International Development jobs
- A comprehensive list of development organisations compiled by the CES can be found here
- I Want to Work In … Human Rights
- Amnesty International
- Human Rights Watch
- One World
- British Institute of Human Rights
- Derechos Human Rights
- The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute
- Islamic Human Rights Commission
- The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture
- United Nations Human Rights page
- Human Rights Internet
- Human Rights Web
For full details of these organisations and the opportunities they offer, together with further information on careers in human rights, see here
Conflict, Peace and Security
- British American Security Council (BASIC) Independent research organisation that analyses government policies and promotes public awareness of defence, disarmament, military strategy and nuclear policies in order to foster informed debate. Offers internships in London
- Campaign Against Arms Trade a broad coalition of groups and individuals in the UK working to end the international arms trade. Good links pages.
- Control Arms a campaign jointly run by Amnesty International, IANSA and Oxfam to create an international, legally-binding Arms Trade Treaty
- Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) The site includes links to organisations working in the field of conflict prevention
- Institute for Conflict Research– based in Belfast
- The Institute for War & Peace Reporting has useful links to media organisations and NGOs
- International Institute for Strategic Studies -the primary source of accurate, objective information on international strategic issues for politicians and diplomats, foreign affairs analysts, international business, economists, the military, defence commentators, journalists, academics and the informed public. Offers occasional internships
- IHS Jane's provides the government and the Ministry of Defence with specialist research gathered from open sources in the area of defence and law enforcement in particular, and publishes this information in a series of magazines.
- Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
- Peace Brigades International Promotes non-violent peace-building solutions in situations of violent conflict and repression, offering unarmed protective accompaniment to individuals, organisations, and communities threatened with violence and human rights abuses. “We are always looking for volunteers”.
- Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies carries out research, organises conferences and publishes a varied series of periodicals. Offers internships.
- Saferworld an independent non-governmental organisation that works to prevent armed violence and create safer communities
Depending upon the balance of particular topics studied, a graduate in Politics and International Relations typically will have the ability to:
- Understand the nature and significance of politics as a human activity
- Apply concepts, theories and methods to analysing political ideas, institutions and practices
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different political systems, the nature and distribution of power in them; the social, economic, historical and cultural contexts within which they operate, and the relationships between them
- Evaluate different interpretations of political issues and events
- Demonstrate an understanding of the origins and evolution of international politics
- Gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from secondary and primary sources
- Identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems
- Construct reasoned argument, synthesise information and exercise critical judgement
- Manage their own learning self-critically
- Communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing
- Use communication and information technology to retrieve and present information, including statistical or numerical information
- Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organization and time-management
- Collaborate with others to achieve common goals.
(Based on the Higher Education Academy Employability Profiles)
Studying Politics and International Relations therefore develops a wide range of transferable skills, which are important in many career fields. Understanding and analysis of issues and events are of key importance to historians and can be applied in many other fields of work. Other skill areas that can be developed through studying Politics and International Relations include:
This is not an exhaustive list of skills - you will develop many skills from your course, extra-curricular activities and work experience. You can find out more about the skills employers look for and how you can develop them here.
Find a job
The Careers and Employability Service provides information and advice on job searching to University of Kent students and recent graduates. This includes a vacancy database advertising a range of graduate jobs, sandwich placements and vacation work/internships and online resources. These websites may be useful in job searching and for providing further information on careers and employers related to Politics and International Relations
W4MPjobs Jobs and internships in politics, public affairs and any other role with a political dimension, both paid and voluntary
Electus Agency specialising in Public Affairs, Policy, PR and Communications recruitment for consultancies, blue-chip companies, charities, trade associations, think-tanks, and public sector bodies.
Graduate Forward Jobs board for entry-level positions in public affairs and communications.
Policy Jobs job advertising website specialising in public policy jobs and covering research, policy making, and academic jobs in many fields including: foreign policy, economics, social policy, family policy, legal affairs and fiscal policy.
Postgraduate study may enable you to explore aspects of Politics and International Relations in greater depth or to study a new subject.
A postgraduate qualification, either academic or vocational, is a requirement or an advantage for many fields of work related to Politics and International Relations, such as political researcher or human rights officer. However, you will still need to offer relevant experience (which may have to be gained through volunteering or internships) in addition to your higher degree.
If you are interested in other careers, some of these, such as library work or law, will require study for a relevant professional qualification while in some others, such as journalism, a postgraduate degree is not a requirement, but may be an advantage. However, many careers will not require further academic qualifications. The “Types of Jobs” section of the Prospects website will tell you whether postgraduate study is essential, useful or not needed for a specific career.
There is no equivalent of UCAS for postgraduate study, so investigate courses early, using the resources listed below.
If you are already a student on a taught Master’s degree, you may wish to continue your studies by research, in the UK (at Kent or elsewhere) or overseas. Again, early planning is important. You should seek advice from your supervisor as to the possible options
There are many reasons for choosing to continue into postgraduate study. You may wish to obtain a higher degree purely for interest rather than for career reasons. Whatever your motivation, you need to consider issues such as your suitability for further study, the options available to you and the costs involved.
For more information on these issues, and on postgraduate study generally, see here