Social science degrees more likely to yield jobs for students at the end of a course, new research finds

Which degree courses are most likely to guarantee jobs at the end of them? This is the perennial question asked by students.

Now, a new study of 62,205 graduates who finished full or part-time degrees in 2008/09 goes some way to answering it.

One of the report's authors says it shows that recruiters are "queuing up" to give careers to graduates in social sciences.

These subjects include sociology, politics, education, economics, business and law.

The Campaign for Social Science's study examined official information to discover what students were doing 42 months after graduation.

Sitting a degree in a social science subject can be more advantageous in securing employment than studying maths, science or the arts, it found.

Graduates in social science are also more likely to be in paid employment and in senior positions compared to people studying other kinds of degrees.

Over eight in 10 students (84.2% ) who sat a social science exam were in paid work three-and-a-half years later.

In contrast, just over three-quarters (77.8%) of those who sat a degree in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) were in work at the same time, together with 78.7% of those who took arts or the humanities subjects.

The report found that STEM graduates were more likely to go on to additional study after completing their degree.

In addition, it discovered that seven-tenths of people who took social sciences courses were in professional or associate professional and technical employment.

These graduates, once in employment, were more likely to be promoted swiftly, the report added.

Within three-and-a-half years of completing their degree, 7.6% of social science graduates were already managers, directors or senior officials at their company.

This contrasted with 3.6% of STEM graduates, and 6.2% of those who sat arts and humanities.

The results coincide with the recent strong focus on encouraging youngsters to take STEM courses to help stimulate the UK's skills in this sector and meet future demand from companies.

Campaign chair Professor James Wilsdon said it is time to "banish any lingering myths" about the benefits of social science degrees.

Prof Wilsdon said: "Our report shows that employers in the public and private sectors are queuing up to hire social science graduates."

He said such graduates have the interpretation and communication skills that Britain's economy and society need.

Copyright Press Association 2013