Your career options

UROP placements

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Our Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme gives you the chance to help an academic with a research project. You'll learn new skills to enhance your CV and get paid a bursary.

A degree in the area of politics is highly advantageous and relevant to a wide range of professions.

Employers are looking for knowledgeable and highly-skilled graduates who can adapt rapidly to the changing environment.

Your course will help you to:

  • understand and process new information
  • provide solutions to everyday problems
  • work effectively both independently and with others
  • present yourself to employers in both public and private sectors

We actively assist our students with their professional development and search for employment or further study. We encourage you to speak to any member of staff about your plans for the future.

  • Our graduates' career destinations

    Our graduates go on to have careers in a variety of fields, including:

    Public sector

    • Government and civil service
    • European Union
    • Local government
    • Armed forces and police

    Private sector

    • Management
    • Banking and finance
    • Accountancy

    Teaching and education

    • Secondary and sixth-form teaching
    • University lecturing and researching

    Other/third sector

    • Research and think tanks
    • Political parties
    • Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

    In addition to the various career paths, our graduates also continue in higher education by undertaking postgraduate studies, whether here at Essex or other institutions, to continue to deepen their understanding of their chosen specialism.

    Stephen Pattison got involved in a staggering range of activities while studying politics and history at Essex including Frontrunners and is now working for a major political party preparing for the next General Election, listen to his experience:

    Politics, history and the frontrunners scheme - Stephen Pattison talks about his experiences by University of Essex
  • Skills training and research opportunities

    Throughout your course there are many opportunities to develop your skills, whether this is attending workshops run by our Department or Careers Centre, taking up an internship offered through one of the staff members' contacts or attending the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis as a postgraduate student. 63% of politics or international relations graduates are employed within six months of leaving university, and a further 21% are in further training or study. We also offer all doctoral students comprehensive training and support.

    Research-based skills training modules

    We have developed a series of modules that provide you with the skills necessary for professional jobs and research. Our research-based modules are integrated with our current research projects, taking you to the cutting edge of political research. Often you will have the opportunity to work as a research assistant and get the opportunity to co-author publications with members of staff. For example, Kristian Skrede Gleditsch (staff); Julian Wucherpfennig, Simon Hug, and Karina Garnes Reigstad (former undergraduate students) Polygyny or Misogyny? Reexamining the 'First Law of Intergroup Conflict', Journal of Politics 73(1): 1-6, 2011).

    We also organise postgraduate modules where members of staff help students develop research projects. In these modules, students turn their research interests into viable research projects, collect and analyse information and learn how to write research papers. Frequently, these modules lead to single authored publications by students. See for example Johannes Kleibl, Tertiarization, Industrial Adjustment, and the Domestic Politics of Foreign Aid, International Studies Quarterly 57: 356-369, 2013.

    In 2015, we are launching a new module titled Replication in which students replicate research recently published by leading scholars in the field. Students learn how to replicate published analysis which may provide an easy way to a first publication.

    Our research-led modules include:

    Student conference

    We also organise an annual student conference. Uniquely it is the only student political science conference where undergraduate students are given the chance to present their original research on various themes and topics including British and American politics, international security and foreign policy, economic development, methods and comparative politics. Students are also encouraged to run workshops (such as Model UN and Amnesty International) and hold poster sessions.

    Work experience opportunities

    The frontrunners scheme is a hugely popular way to get real-life work experience in the University (either in one of the academic or professional service departments). There are also lots of opportunities to volunteer through one of the initiatives set up by the Students' Union, for example V-Team.


Honorary Graduate James Murphy at the University of Essex from University of Essex on Vimeo.

Work placements

Employers today are saying that graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are 'unlikely to be successful' during the selection process and have 'little or no chance' of receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes. (High Fliers 2015).

Many of our Departments give you the chance to take up a work placement as part of your course and there are a number of placement vacancies you can apply for. This year, three of our students have seen off fierce competition to secure placements with organisations YouGov and Fleishman Hillard. Find out more about our work placements.

Working in the House of Commons

This year, BSc Politics and International Relations student Lukas Audickas took up a placement as a Social Statistics Research Assistant in the Department of Information Services at the House of Commons.

"One main part of my role is to respond to MPs’ enquiries and to take part in preparing the House of Commons Library publications. The time I have spent in this role has been a continuous learning process that has allowed me to develop my quantitative analysis skills, using a wide range of national and international data sources. Almost every day I have the chance to learn or discover something new. I am sure that this experience will greatly benefit my future career."

Challenge Project

In 2016, six top students learned first-hand how local government works, as part of a new joint module between the University and Essex County Council.

The module is based around a Challenge Project, called Reinvigorating Essex which tasked our students with researching questions and producing proposals on how to unlock economic growth, revitalise civic participation and improve community resilience across the county.

Hear the students talk about the project

Employability and Careers Centre

Our Employability and Careers Centre has a wealth of experience and tools to help you prepare for life after graduation. Throughout your time at Essex, our advisors will be available to help you formulate your career plan.

Employability events

Students at a careers fair

We have lots of careers events and workshops running this term, all designed to help you develop skills, research future career options and meet employers. Some are one-off annual events, so don't miss out.

frontrunners placements

Frontrunner students gathered round a table

frontrunners is our original placement scheme that offers students paid work opportunities on campus. You'll get on-placement training and great experience to add to your CV.

Essex Interns

Students walking up stairs

Internships are an excellent way to earn money and develop a stand-out CV. Register with us for information on paid internship opportunities with local, national and even international employers.

Big Essex Award

Big essex award logo

Join the 2,000+ students who have completed The Big Essex Award so far and get University recognition for all of your extra-curricular activities. We’ll help you identify your skills and sell your experience to employers.