Career pathways of postgraduate research students

These resources highlight and support the high-level skills that are developed through the study of arts, humanities, and social sciences at doctoral level, as well as the varied career pathways that doctoral graduates from these disciplines may take.

The Good Practice document offers examples of current good practice in careers guidance provision for postgraduate research students, taken from across the UK’s higher education sector and beyond. It is intended to be of use to Heads or Directors of university careers services; Pro Vice Chancellors, or their equivalent, with responsibility for PGR students; researcher developers; and supervisors and those with a responsibility for PGR students.

Good careers guidance is key to helping postgraduate research students and graduates appreciate their skills and attributes, as well as maximising their choices and opportunities to find successful and rewarding careers, whether in academia or beyond.

The accompanying case studies highlight the value that arts, humanities, and social sciences doctoral graduates bring to a variety of sectors and employers. They look at the opportunities and barriers to utilising this value and represent the experiences of former PGR students from across these disciplines, who undertook doctoral study for various reasons, at different times, and by different modes of study. In discussing how their doctoral knowledge, skills, and experience helped to shape their career pathways, the participants offer personal insights for current and prospective doctoral students and graduates, as well as offering advice to employers on why they should give greater consideration to doctoral graduates from these disciplines.

The postgraduate research community is diverse and vibrant. The case studies provided here represent a variety of experiences and voices, but it is hoped that they will encourage a wider range of people to come forward to share their stories and pathways. As this resource evolves, we hope to better represent those voices that are currently underrepresented in the postgraduate research community so that we can showcase the diversity of the community while also showcasing the value of a PhD for many and varied career pathways.

These case studies are intended to compliment the Good Practice document, but also to be of benefit to employers, policy makers, academic and professional staff in higher education, and prospective and current doctoral students or recent graduates.

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