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Careers Centre

Physics and Astronomy - using your degree

Introduction

Popular career areas for Physics and Astronomy students:

A degree from Scotland's first university is an excellent start to any future career. St Andrews has a reputation for excellence and the ability to attract the brightest students world wide. With this as a starting point you are well on the way to impressing future employers.

Graduates in physics tend to be extremely well qualified for further research and a scientific career, depending on the level to which they have specialized in their undergraduate degree. However, it’s also important to recognize that the basic elements of any physics program will teach you to be a good scientist, developing essential skills such as designing experiments, making accurate measurements and analyzing results.

Physics is also regarded very highly as a generalist qualification leading to a range of careers. Common occupations for physics graduates include research, management, sales, higher education, industry of all kinds, medical technology and the civil service. Outside of the scientific world, like many other undergraduate degrees, physics will open the door to a range of careers; skills such as problem solving, information handling, clear communication, computer and IT skills and critical reasoning are as applicable to a career in banking and financial analysis as they are in any laboratory.

Review your degree skills

The profile below identifies the skills that can be developed through the study of your discipline based on subject benchmark statements developed by UK higher education academic communities. It may help you to identify the valuable skills that you can offer to potential employers.

Where do our Physics and Astronomy graduates go?

Recent Physics and Astronomy graduates
Selex ES - Systems Engineer           Apttus - Implementation Engineer           TeachFirst - Teacher              
PwC - Management Consultant            SSE - Gas Storage Commercial Operator          Bleep - Marketing and Customer Relations
Graduates who are established in their profession

Marks and Clerk - Associate

TempCFO, Inc. - CFO, Head of New York Office

Redmile Group - Managing Director

Amgen - Senior Scientist

Intralink - Project Manager

Cambridge Consultants - Principal Engineer

Edmund Bennett

Edmund graduated in 2014. He is an Engineer with Systems Engineering and Assessment (SEA) Ltd.

Read Edmund's case study.

Andrew Rudhall

Andrew graduated in 2013. He is a Patent Attorney for Marks & Clerk LLP.

Read Andrew's case study.

Visit the Graduate Destinations page to see what graduates and postgraduates from your School are doing now.

Network with alumni

Many jobs and internships are not advertised. One of the best ways to find out about these ‘hidden opportunities’ is by networking. Networking can also help secure a job that is publicised or is part of a training scheme. Your contacts can open doors, set up meetings, help prepare you for interviews, and provide you with an inside look at a company or industry.

How to contact alumni

There are two main ways to contact alumni on-line:

  1. Saint Connect - brings together alumni and current students to facilitate networking, enable informal mentoring, provide industry discussion groups, and enable graduates and students to stay up to date with their student societies and sports teams.
  2. LinkedIn - most comprehensive resource to connect with alumni is the University of St Andrews LinkedIn – Alumni Tool. There are also many LinkedIn St Andrews Groups, mainly based on location, which you can join to network with fellow students and alumni, eg St Andrews North America Careers Link.

Postgraduate study/research

In 2014, 52.3% of Physics and Astronomy graduates went on to do further study.
Advisers are able and willing to discuss postgraduate applications - vocational and academic.

Popular postgraduate institutions and courses:

See also:

Summer internships/work experience

Campus Opportunities

Work experience is becoming ‘essential’ in the UK when it comes to securing graduate level employment.

During the 2015-16 academic year, more than 90% of the UK’s leading graduate employers offered paid work experience programmes for students and recent graduates. Altogether, 55% of St Andrews finalists had completed some element of work experience with a graduate employer whilst at university – much higher than the survey average. More than two-fifths had a part-time job during term-time and three-fifths had some form of casual vacation work. Source: High Fliers –The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2016.

Case studies

Key links and resources

Career related

Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations and Journals/Magazines

These can often be a good source of information on internships, jobs and postgraduate study.