Praying for a bright graduate? Look here

April 22, 2005

Religious studies graduates can offer employers skills including empathy, self-discipline and "an ability to attend closely to the meaning of written documents". Philosophy graduates "think creatively and analyse problems in a multi-dimensional way".

These are among the findings published in a new guide that attempts to challenge assumptions that some disciplines are of little use in the workplace.

Philosophy, religious studies, English, earth science and materials are among the 23 degree subjects covered in the Council for Industry and Higher Education's Student Employability Profiles . A follow-up report later this year will cover other disciplines.

The skills identified in the guide - including technical abilities, interpersonal qualities and business awareness - were compiled by academics, practitioners and the relevant professional bodies.

Richard Brown, CIHE chief executive, said: "Differential fees could lead individuals to shun such courses because of a misconception about their value in finding a job. It is important to explain the wider values of all disciplines."

Peter Lamarque, head of philosophy at York University, said: "There are misconceptions about what skills our students acquire. Despite this, our graduates find jobs in the private sector, the Civil Service and the professions."

Lester Grabbe, professor of theology at Hull University, said: "One misconception employers may have is that people studying our subject are learning how to pray. In fact, we are like any other humanities subject, emphasising critical thinking, analysis and issues such as ethics."

The Institute of Directors welcomed the guide. Richard Wilson, its head of business policy, said: "It spells out what a graduate in a subject such as philosophy will be able to bring to you."


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