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Human, Social and Political Sciences Tripos and your career

Due to the range of subject choices open to undergraduates completing the Human, Social and Political Sciences Tripos (HSPS) at Cambridge, a graduate from HSPS may have chosen to specialise in Politics and International Relations, Sociology, Social Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, or Archaeology (including Assyriology and Egyptology), or some combination of these, while also taking papers in other subjects, including Psychology, History, and History and Philosophy of Science. As a result the range of knowledge and skills which graduates develop will vary from one person to the next. However core skills are likely to include oral and written communication, critical reflection and analytical and evaluative thinking, the ability to deal with inter-disciplinary work, time management and organisation, and, for some subject choices, qualitative and quantitative research methods, or even experience of conducting research-based fieldwork.

Most employers will be more concerned about: your grades and the transferable skills you have developed through your studies, extra-curricular activities and any work experience you might have gained, than they will be about the specifics of what you studied. To give you some examples on this:

  • a focus on Politics might indicate an interest in working in public policy or diplomacy
  • a focus on Anthropology may be leading towards a career in development work
  • a specialisation in Sociology might be chosen with the intention of becoming a social researcher
  • or Archaeology with a view to a career as an archaeologist or heritage manager

yet any of these subject choices could just as easily lead to a career as a solicitor or a barrister or a retail manager, in communications or market research, or in teaching or media. The possibilities are endless! Furthermore, career destination research indicates that between a quarter and a third of graduates of these subject areas have historically gone on to do a Masters or PhD degree, and a percentage of the latter will do so with the objective of developing a career in academia.

The skills developed through a social sciences degree are very transferable, especially if augmented by additional experience and if you are able to communicate your interest in a particular career, and your motivation for applying to a specific employer.