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Durham University

Natural Sciences

Career Opportunities

Durham has an excellent graduate employment record. You can open up a wide choice of careers with a Natural Sciences degree. Many employers prefer a broadly based multidisciplinary science degree rather than a specialism in a single field (see below for a fuller explanation). Recent graduates have gone into accountancy, administration, law, advertising, the armed forces, banking, the City, the civil service, financial management, general management, information technology, marketing, publishing, retailing, teaching, telecommunications, industrial and academic research. For a fuller picture, you can visit the University Careers website.

A Natural Sciences degree gives students added qualities compared to the more usual single honours programmes. It appeals particularly to highly motivated students, as the degree allows and indeed encourages students to adapt their studies to their changing interests and to add to their employability. This creates responsibility in the student for their own learning and decision-making. They have to learn time management skills, caused by having to resolve timetabling issues, varying workloads and meeting conflicting deadlines. Academically the degree facilitates students adding breadth to their knowledge and understanding, whilst staff guidance ensures appropriate depth and academic progression to each student’s studies. By following at least two subjects, students embrace different study, research and analytical methodologies, varied assessment methods, and the need to develop different verbal and written presentation skills appropriate for the subjects. The result produces students who not only have breadth, but importantly a very good range of transferable skills for the workplace: time management, adaptability, self-directed working, reflectiveness, appreciation of diversity, application of different approaches to suit the situation or problem and presentation skills.

Of students that left in 2017:

- 85% are in employment or study six months after graduating

Of those in employment:

- 94% are in graduate level employment
- Median salary £28,000

(Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2016/17 graduates. The DLHE survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing six months after graduation. Full definitions for the DLHE Record can be found

A significant number of Natural Science graduates progress onto higher level study following their degree. Several remain within their academic field of interest, notably at Durham but also other prestigious institutions including Oxford, Cambridge, York, Bath, Edinburgh to name a few. Others pursue vocational professional study such as teaching (PGCE) and Journalism. A small number take conversion courses in law (Graduate Diploma Law) in preparation for training as a solicitor or barrister.

“A huge percentage of trainees join KPMG from Durham University to the full range of graduate training schemes ranging we offer, from consulting to compliance. This demonstrates that Durham produces consistently high calibre candidates each year who possess a wide range of competencies both personal and technical. It’s only the skills and abilities of our people which enables KPMG to achieve its global leadership status so in turn; we are committed to engaging with and providing development opportunities to Durham students throughout the academic year.”

Rachel Pickles, KPMG

Employment development opportunities

Careers Advisers deliver regular talks to all undergraduate year groups

Year 1 focusing on developing employability skills, penultimate year on internships , work experience and final year on graduate employers/schemes , the recruitment cycle and making effective applications for jobs and further study.

Durham University Natural Sciences graduates progress into a diverse range of careers and employment sectors. The private,public and charitable sectors are all represented. Example roles include Nuclear Environmental Officer, Policy Adviser, Accountant, Research Analyst, Assistant Psychologist, Public Health Analyst, Investment Banking Analyst, Sports Trader, Assistant Scientific Commissioning Editor, Investment Consultant, Management, Recruitment Consultant, Auditor, Insurance Underwriter, Safety Policy and Environment Assistant Manager, Software Developer and Insurance Underwriter to name a few. Example high profile employers include Barclays, Deloitte, Dept for Business Innovations & Skills, Future Science Group, KPMG, NHS, DSTL, HM Treasury, Towers Watson, Bank of America, PwC, Deutsche Bank, Army, Casino Capital Management, JP Morgan, Natural History Museum, Sky News, RAF, United Nations World Conservation Centre

For an introduction to our Careers Service follow the link to