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Top ten postgraduate subjects for employability

Students generally study postgraduate courses for one key reason: to boost their career prospects. If you’re wondering what the best subjects are for postgraduate employability, here’s a look at the current top ten.

Two people businessmen shaking hands

10. Engineering and Technology

Person analysing some engineering equipment

Postgraduate employability: 76.3%

The practical nature of subjects like engineering and technology means there’s a high chance of postgraduate students finding professional-level employment after graduation. Whether you specialise in aeronautical, automotive, electrical, mechanical, chemical, or any other kind of engineering, your skills are sure to be in demand.

9. Agriculture and related subjects

Agronomist working in field

Postgraduate employability: 76.4%

The production of food is vital to everyone’s life, and yet it faces the challenges of climate change, sustainability, and food security. Postgraduates in these fields can make their impact, whether in agricultural sciences, food and beverage studies, or in management of livestock.

8. Medicine and Dentistry

Dentist assessing x-ray scan of teeth

Postgraduate employability: 76.7%

Within the fields of medicine or dentistry, a postgraduate qualification could take your career into public health or international health and development or gain you expertise and specialised skills in your clinical area. Many careers within this sector demand long-term studying, so these degrees are highly vocational.

7. Computer Science

Person with clipboard assessing computer mainframe

Postgraduate employability: 77.1%

At the cutting edge of computer science, digital developments can be applied to sectors from business and finance through to health and the environment, in areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to data mining to robotics. Those with expertise in this field can find postgraduate jobs in practically any industry.

6. Physical Sciences

Chemistry students in lab

Postgraduate employability: 77.4%

From nanotechnology to astronomy, gaining new understanding in the nature of matter can have huge potential for developments in technology. Whether you’re working in research, as a geophysicist, or metallurgist, there’s a good chance of employment for postgraduates from the physical sciences, such as physics, chemistry, geology or materials science.

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5. Social Studies

Senior man greeting social worker

Postgraduate employability: 79.4%

Roles in the running of society can lead to high-level jobs for postgraduates in social studies subjects – from political risk analysist to economist, social researcher or in policy development. Or you could qualify as a social worker, to make a direct difference to people’s lives.

4. Architecture, Building and Planning

Person analysing a computer screen

Postgraduate employability: 79.5%

If you're thinking of working in architecture you'll need a master's degree to progress to chartership. Postgraduate students for all architecture courses are normally required to have an honours degree in a relevant subject.

3. Medicine-related degrees

Doctor looking into a microscope

Postgraduate employability: 80.5%

Postgraduate subjects allied to medicine include anatomy; optometry, ophthalmology and orthoptics; and medical technology, among others. With healthcare being such an important aspect of society, it's understandable that postgraduate students of these subjects find employment easily.

2. Veterinary Science

Vet looking at a sample under microscope

Postgraduate employability: 80.7%

Many veterinary medicine undergraduates become vets straight after graduation but the option for postgraduate study is always there to give your career an extra lift. There are many different routes you can go down including research, specialisation in specific areas, and internships or residencies.

1. Education

Teacher helping young student with work

Postgraduate employability: 90.3%

Generally, those studying a postgraduate degree in education have one thing in mind: to become a teacher. Whether going into primary or secondary education, you'll study a highly vocational postgraduate degree, spending most of your time actually practising in schools. Graduates leave fully prepared for a job as a qualified teacher, and most end up finding one.

Data source: HESA 2017–18, published July 2020.

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