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The Campaign for Social Sciences investigates what social science graduates do and the skills they gain during their time at university.

The Campaign for Social Science, with statisticians from the Warwick Institute for Employer Research, has analysed data from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education longitudinal survey conducted by the Higher Education Statistics Agency to reveal the destinations of social science graduates approximately 3.5 years after graduating.

The social sciences - which encompasses sociology, politics, economics, law, education and many others - “examine and explain human functioning on a variety of interlocking levels, ranging from neural foundations to individual behaviour, group processes and the functioning of entire societies” (European Scientific Foundation, 2013).

Graduates in the social sciences offer employers a valuable variety of skills, including the ability to understand complex issues holistically, on individual, cultural and societal levels; research, analyse and evaluate data critically; question assumptions; understand people, institutions and their relationships; understand processes of change; make reasoned arguments; communicate concisely and clearly; and solve problems.

The Campaign for Social Science's key findings included:

Employment

  • After 3 years of graduating, the proportion of social science graduates in employment (84.2%) is higher than graduates of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects (77.8%) and arts-humanities subjects (78.7%).
  • A smaller proportion of social science graduates (10.1%) are in further study compared with 17.3% from STEM and 11.5% from arts-humanities
  • Social science graduates who pursue further study are more likely to combine it with employment. 

Occupations

  • Among those in employment, 70% social science graduates are in ‘professional’ or ‘associate professional and technical’ occupations within 3 years of graduating. 
  • A greater proportion of social science graduates (7.6%) are already ‘managers, directors and senior officials’ than STEM (3.6%) and arts-humanities (6.2%) graduates. 

Industries

  • A higher proportion of social science graduates (19.8%) are employed in ‘professional, scientific and technical activities’ than STEM (10.9%) or arts-humanities (14.2%) graduates. Social science graduates remain more highly represented than STEM graduates even after accounting for vocational degrees such as architecture and law. 
  • ‘Professional, scientific and technical activities’ employment includes experimental and market research; management consultancy; advertising; accounting, auditing and legal activities; industrial design and architectural activities; labour recruitment and many others.
  • Nearly twice the proportion of social science graudates (7.1%) are employed in 'financial and insurance activities' compared with STEM (3.7%) and arts-humanities (3.9%) graduates. This includes occupations in banks, insurance and pension funding, and other kinds of financial management.