PhD Careers


How can a PhD help your career?

An Arts & Humanities PhD is an exceptional basis for your career. You will gain organisational, creative, communicative and research skills that are highly attractive to employers. Our Placements scheme allows you to experience the workplace, and we also offer training and funding for Careers work.

Here are some excellent tools relating to PhD Careers.

This is a great blog about PhD Careers, and this is a really useful Twitter account on the subject.

Here is a good overview of Graduate Employment.


Where do our PGRs go?

Many of our Postgraduate Researchers continue to work in University settings. Our graduates work in many other fields, though, from legal organisations to the charity sector. Recent graduates have gone into education, heritage work, librarianship, law practice.

Careers Week

Every year the NWCDTP hosts a Careers event for Humanities and Social Sciences PhD researchers from the NWCDTP and beyond to support them in making career choices and explore a variety of post-PhD opportunities. An example of our programme is at the end of this page.

Read Imogen’s Story: During my PhD, I worked with a range of literary archives, both in Manchester (at the John Rylands) and in America (at the Beinecke Library, Yale and the Harry Ransom Library, University of Texas). My research led me to consider why certain people are remembered, which stories are told and the responsibility of libraries and institutions to preserve literary cultures. Through this work, I developed a keen interest in archival theory and management, which has led me to pursue a career as a literary archivist.


I now work at the John Rylands Research Institute and Library, in two part-time roles. As Collections Assistant, I apply the research skills I developed during my PhD to catalogue the literary arts archives and Map collections and share my findings in articles and teaching sessions. As Reader Services Coordinator, I contribute to the operational side of the library, managing a team who make our Special Collections accessible to researchers from around the world.


I am incredibly grateful to the NWCDPT for the additional funding I received during my PhD, which hugely enriched my doctoral experience. My placement at the British Library allowed me to develop my public engagement skills and gain valuable insights into the library profession, while my 5-week research visit to America extended my skills in archival research and allowed me to explore and interrogate the theoretical aspects of literary archives. I am certain that without these opportunities I would not be working in the career that I am today.

Imogen Durrant, Research Services Coordinator, John Rylands Research Institute and Library


Example Careers Week Programme

Designing your post-PhD research agenda

10 May, 2-3.30 PM or 14 May, 10-11.30 AM

This practical workshop will help you design a successful and sustainable research agenda that can take into consideration the current job climate. It provides you with a structured process to empower you to develop your research activities in and outside academia and create practical opportunities and approaches. By using the ethnographic triangle technique (people/place/theme) and the Ordsall Method (15 steps for undertaking community based and collaborative research) to define your research approach, you will be guided to identify relevant activities and next steps for taking research forward and take control of your research aspirations.

Facilitator: Dr Jessica Symons. Jessica has worked on Post-Docs at the Universities of Manchester and Salford, as Research Grant Writer, as Knowledge Manager at the independent thinktank Demos, in the third and private sector, and now runs her own creative digital studio and innovation consultancy, Visioning Lab.

The event has a limited capacity of 20 students. Priority will be given to NWCDTP and NWSSDTP students who have registered on a first come first serve basis. You will be contacted closer to the time to confirm attendance and will be provided with the zoom link to the session

Book your place for Monday 10th May

Book your place for Friday 14 May

Postdoctoral opportunities within Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

11 May, 10-11.30 AM

One of the UK government’s longest running and most successful knowledge transfer programmes, KTPs have been supporting academic researchers and business partners work in partnership for over 40 years. KTPs are a tangible opportunity for post-doctoral level researchers looking to lead on a research project that can bridge between University and industry and create positive change beyond academia. In this informative session, you will explore how KTPs work and listen from senior colleagues working between academia and industry who have experience with these projects.

Facilitator: Joanne Summers, Knowledge Transfer Manager, The University of Manchester. Joanne has 20 years experience working with external funding predominantly European Funding and SME engagement within Higher Education.

Guest panel

Book your place

Creative tools to explore your career options beyond academia

11 May, 1:00-3:00 PM or 13 May, 10:00-12:00

This session will provide you with a roadmap to transition from academia to industry. It will guide you through the initial part of the journey by exploring where you are and your potential options moving forward. You will work collaboratively with others to map the range of possibilities and information required to effectively access positions within these spaces. This is a practical workshop where the challenges in this process will be considered honestly, enabling you to increase your confidence and motivation when communicating and networking with employers outside academia. You will leave with an understanding of your motivations to work in particular sectors and/or roles, an awareness of the diversity of the PhD job market and 3 tangible next steps in the management of your post-PhD career.

Facilitators: Danielle White and Rachel Valentine.

Danielle is an executive coach and facilitator with over 20 years experience working in career transition. Danielle completed her Doctorate in 2014, going on to work as a lecturer and researcher. Since then, she has supported hundreds of people to navigate complex professional challenges through one-to-one coaching, workshops, and research.

Rachel is an executive coach and facilitator with over 14 years experience in a Senior Learning and Development role in HE. Through workshops and one to one coaching, Rachel’s focus is on promoting and enabling choice, finding clarity around what is important, and the development of pathways to support success, resilience, and wellbeing.

The event has a limited capacity of 25 students. Priority will be given to NWCDTP and NWSSDTP students who have registered on a first come first serve basis. You will be contacted closer to the time to confirm attendance and will be provided with the zoom link to the session

Book your place for Tuesday 11 May

Book your place for Thursday 13 May

Beyond Academia: Navigating the current job market

12 May, 10:00-11.30 AM

If you are ready to think about “what next?” after your PhD and you are looking for opportunities to work beyond academia, this session will guide you to understand and navigate the current job market for Humanities and Social Sciences researchers. The workshop will look at current trends, useful resources for your job search and smart tactics to uncover more jobs for Humanities and Social Sciences PhDs. You will listen from alumni from the Humanities and Social Sciences who have started fulfilling careers in a variety of industry sectors.

Facilitator: Elizabeth Wilkinson, Career Consultant, The University of Manchester. With 20+ year professional experience as University careers consultant, Elizabeth specialises in supporting postgraduate profesisonal development. Her expertise is backed up by direct industry experience in graduate recruitement, HR management and various management roles.

Guest Panel

Book your place

Practice-Based Research Careers

12 May, 2:00-4:00 PM

Led by the Proximity Collective, this session will be hosting three guest speakers to share their experiences of continuing practice-based research post PhD. The session will focus on visual arts-based practices, and strategies to develop a career as a researcher and an artist. The aim of the discussion is to provide insight alongside some guidance and support, for practice-based researchers who are about to complete their PhD projects.

Facilitators: Proximity, a collective of 6 artists interested in the spatial and social elements of practice-as-research. Established in May 2019, they have participated in a series of projects, including residencies, workshops, seminars and an exhibition. They have adopted an approach of “convivial aesthetics” and note that this has been bolstered, rather than undermined, by the move to a virtual realm.

Book your place

Demystifying Post-Docs in the Humanities

13 May, 2:00-3.30 PM

This session aims to de-mystify post-docs in the Humanities and to give an overview of how to approach the various academic opportunities available to early career researchers. You will have an opportunity to hear from Humanities alumni who have taken on a variety of post-doc experiences, from research to data collecting and project management.

Facilitator: Dr Anastasia Valassopoulos. Anastasia is Senior Lecturer in World Literatures. Recent publications include work on the role of cinema in the Palestinian resistance movement; anti-colonial feminism; revolution and music in the Egyptian context and Postcolonial Locations (with Robert Spencer) in 2020. She is currently working on a new project entitled ‘Palestine in the Popular Imagination’.

Guest Panel

Dr Scott Midson – Lecturer in Liberal Arts at The University of Manchester, with research interests in posthumanism and theology. Scott was previously a postdoctoral researcher based at the Lincoln Theological Institute, where he researched love and relations with and through machines. Scott has published a number of articles and books, including Cyborg Theology (2018) and Love, Technology and Theology (2020), and he is currently working on a monograph provisionally titled Loving Machines.

Dr Jade Munslow – Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Salford and author of Olive Schreiner and African Modernism: Allegory, Empire and Postcolonial Writing (Routledge, 2018). Jade is Principal investigator on an AHRC-funded research project, South African Modernism 1880-2020; and is also working on a co-authored book with Matthew Whittle entitled Global Literatures and the Environment: Twenty-First Century Perspectives (forthcoming with Routledge, 2022).

Dr Filippo Oncini – Marie Curie Fellow in the Sustainable Consumption Institute at the University of Manchester with a project on food support provision and food poverty in Greater Manchester. Filippo completed his PhD in Sociology and Social Research at the University of Trento (Italy) in 2018 with a study on children’s school meals and social inequalities. His work has appeared in a variety of peer-reviewed journals such as Poetics, Sociology, Sociology of Health and Illness, and Agriculture and Human Values.

Book your place