What can I do with a degree in Philosophy?

Jack Copeland, Philosophy

Philosophy will be enjoyed by anyone who is fascinated by ideas, who likes to think and to explore, who is curious, and who wants to know which ideas are sound, which are unsound and why. Its aim is to enable you to think rationally and independently and to argue cogently. This is of great value when dealing with the theoretical aspects of the other subjects you will study at university, particularly professional subjects like Law, Engineering and Accounting. It is also enjoyable in itself.

Through their Philosophy degree, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferable to a range of careers. These skills include:

  • Careful, rational, systematic and clear analysis
  • Thinking critically, creatively and challenging ideas
  • Logic and reasoning
  • Research and computing skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Interpretive and analytical thinking
  • Understanding the role of ethics
  • Effective persuasive oral and written skills.

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available in this major. Undertaking an internship, for example, can deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge, and employability.

Philosophy graduates are employed in a wide variety of sectors, including for example:

  • Technology companies
  • Government agencies
  • Healthcare
  • Education and training
  • Legal services
  • Finance and insurance
  • Manufacturing and retail sectors.

New Zealand organisations that have recently hired humanities graduates with problem solving and critical thinking skills include for example:

  • Public sector bodies such as the Ministry of Education, the Government Communications Security Bureau, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
  • Private organisations such as Vodafone, Microsoft and Kraft Heinz
  • Digital technologies such as UC Arts Digital Lab
  • Not-for-profit organisations such as Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand.

Recent UC Philosophy graduates have landed roles in various universities, government organisations, a music company, law firms, recruitment agencies, technology companies, the retail trade, and private tutoring services. Some of these graduates have even set up their own business.

Internationally, Philosophy is recognised as excellent preparation for medical, business and law graduate schools. With growing business buy-in to concepts of global citizenship, and corporate social responsibility, opportunities for graduates with an ethics background are wide.

Graduates with this degree are employed in a range of jobs — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Policy analyst / advisor

  • Identifies issues and opportunities eg, in society, law or governance
  • Interprets and consults on existing policies
  • Prepares reports and recommends changes

Tertiary lecturer

  • Prepares and gives lectures and tutorials
  • Sets and marks assignments and exams
  • Conducts research, writes and publishes articles

Programmer

  • Specifies and writes software code
  • Builds prototypes and tests systems
  • Identifies and fixes programme problems

Artificial intelligence (AI) researcher

  • Specifies and writes AI code
  • Designs prototype robots
  • Markets AI systems to customers eg, banks, hospitals, the military

Ethicist

  • Trains people in professional ethics
  • Promotes ethics and embeds frameworks within an organisation eg, police, hospitals

Marketing officer, sales manager

  • Collects and analyses market insight
  • Prepares and implements marketing plans
  • Works with others to promote goods or services

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up

Get started at with Entrepreneurship here

Operations manager

  • Helps develop strategies and business plans
  • Manages standards and business relationships
  • Structures resources to deliver services or goods on time and to budget

Legal services^

  • Administers the legal aspects of a company
  • Prepares and interprets legal documents
  • Prepares for court cases and acts for clients

Judge’s / legal clerk^

  • Assists with the day-to-day operation of courts
  • Handles court documents and schedules
  • Liaises with police, judges and lawyers

Research analyst / advisor / assistant

  • Organises and conducts research surveys
  • Tests theories and interprets the results
  • Writes reports and makes recommendations

Human resources / recruitment advisor

  • Understands a business’s personnel needs
  • Advertises vacancies and recruits staff
  • Advises on workplace policies and procedures

Customer services officer / representative

  • Provides information or advice to people
  • Starts the next steps in the process

Secondary school teacher

  • Plans and delivers instructional lessons
  • Evaluates performance and provides feedback
  • Sets and marks assignments and tests

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others in a community.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep upto-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Philosophy subject page