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What do Masters graduates do? - Humanities

May 2018

Further study is a popular route for full and part-time humanities postgraduates, with a higher than average number choosing this route when their courses finishes

Humanities was the fourth most popular subject group for Masters study in 2016, with 5,550 UK domiciled graduates receiving a Masters qualification in the field. The majority of these graduates (72%) studied full time, and 28% chose to study part time.

Subject overview

  • 5,550 graduates
  • 13.5% of total Masters cohort
  • 72% studied full time
  • 28% studied part time


Humanities Masters graduates who studied full-time were more likely to be in full-time work six months after graduation than their part-time counterparts. There was a striking difference (25.1 percentage points) between the proportion of humanities Masters graduates who studied part-time and found full-time work (47.9%), and the average for all part-time Masters graduates (73%).

Further study appeared to be a popular option for humanities Masters graduates, with higher than average figures for both those who studied full and part time. This could partly account for the lower than average employment figure.

An unusually high number (17.7%) of humanities Masters graduates who studied part time fall into the 'other' category. The majority of these (54%) were aged 40 and over. Graduates in the 'other' category are often away from the labour market for reasons such as travel, family, sickness and retirement and the nature of some humanities courses may mean that some graduates pursue a Masters for non-career reasons.

Unemployment levels for humanities Masters graduates who studied full time were lower than those for Masters graduates who studied full time overall. Those who studied part time experienced a slightly higher than average unemployment rate.

Outcomes,Humanities FT,Humanities PT
Full time work,52.94457537,47.93487172
Part time work,16.80754538,19.09679633
Working and studying,3.461074581,4.84140552
Further study,14.97544926,6.94752496


Unsurprisingly, a large proportion (29.6%) of humanities graduates that studied part time worked in the education sector.

The most popular industries for their full-time counterparts were:

  • education (17.9%)
  • media and publishing (16.7%).
Industries,Humanities FT,Humanities PT
Construction · engineering · research and development,7.506229236,5.479100475
Hospitality & tourism,3.887735327,2.359438195
Media and publishing,16.66285991,6.410131601
IT and telecoms,2.852297896,2.699282256
Legal and accountancy,1.834509967,1.298310515
Management consultancy,2.520418051,0.752258989
Other business and finance,8.03986711,4.278141124
Marketing and PR,3.091777409,1.10626322
Social care,3.26446567,4.027683131
Local and central govt,4.366694352,8.200507996
Arts · sports and leisure
Other industries,3.35478959,5.515385909


Of those that studied full time a significant proportion of humanities Masters graduates went into arts and media occupations (21.8%) as authors, writers and translators, or as journalists, newspaper and periodical editors. Often, graduates in these roles worked for an SME (70.7%).

Humanities Masters graduates who studied part time seemed to favour educational roles (16.6%), where they worked as teaching and other education professionals and secondary education teaching professionals.

Aside from these two occupations, both cohorts of humanities Masters graduates went into a range of occupations. The most popular were:

  • clerics and secretaries
  • professional roles (archivists and curators were common)
  • marketing and sales
  • business and finance.

Management roles appeared to be more popular with graduates who studied part time.

Types of work,Humanities,Humanities PT
Education ,7.781224152,16.60226539
Social and welfare,3.274055693,6.587498784
Business and finance,9.719120485,7.943904574
Marketing and sales,13.26371657,7.958936451
Arts and media,21.76385443,12.02903805
Other professionals,9.410325338,11.24119088
Health and education occupations,2.625103391,1.974481179
Clerical and secretarial,10.98290598,10.93436375
Retail and service ,8.691066998,3.757969105
Other occupations,5.686517783,5.717418408
Unknown occupations,0.172318721,0.176845605


An analysis of study and work locations shows that humanities Masters graduates weren’t very mobile, although this behaviour is typical of most graduates.

The region with the highest percentage of humanities Masters graduates was London. This is reflective of the fact that a large number chose to study there. The number of graduates who studied full-time employed in the capital overtakes those who studied part-time.

Both London and the South West were important regions for those who relocated for work, suggesting there were opportunities available in these regions. Outside of the capital, the most common cities for humanities Masters graduates were:

  • Edinburgh
  • Leeds
  • Birmingham
  • Brighton
  • Manchester.

The remainder was distributed across the country. It has been shown that humanities graduates enter a range of occupations, most of which can be found in a number of regions. This could explain why humanities Masters graduates were not concentrated in specific areas.

Location,Humanities FT,Humanities PT
North East,3.471241529,3.007025505
North West,7.986374765,8.124436183
Yorkshire and The Humber,6.948515062,7.259688545
East Midlands,3.921512969,4.297312813
West Midlands,5.165525317,6.653727345
East of England,6.091260689,6.62092343
South East,12.23858354,14.61049908
South West,5.515026789,8.307591373
Northern Ireland,2.48376681,2.093983215
Guernsey · Jersey and the Isle of Man,0.248376681,0.227804963

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