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Career planning

Some people are fortunate to have a clear sense of their 'career trajectory' and need very little assistance in shaping or realising their goals. For most, the reality is very different; a career evolves from a series of choices, events, decisions and may change in response to need or circumstance.

Key considerations

  • How would you like to use/apply your skills and experience?
  • Find out what other PhDs/researchers in your department have done.
  • What environment are you suited to? (Office? Lab? Outdoors? What size of organisation? How important is pay? If better pay or more interesting work required a sacrifice of personal time, how would you feel?
  • Do you want your career to be directly related to your PhD topic/research field?
  • What opportunities are there in your chosen field?
  • The type of sector: commercial, private, public, not for profit.
  • Whether you need to undertake additional training/develop skills - if so, are you prepared to do this?

What are your options?

Broadly speaking you can consider an academic career or moving beyond academia to consider other research roles, opportunities to use your specialist knowledge or perhaps changing direction altogether.

Find out more:

Every department has a linked Senior Careers Consultant with whom you can book an appointment. A careers discussion can help you put your thoughts in order and define what you might need to do next, including suggestions of other useful resources where appropriate.


Although these are not recent publications, much of the material may still be useful.

  • Moving on in Your Career, a guide for academic researchers and postgraduates - Ali, L and Graham, B., Routledge Falmer, 2000*
  • Managing your Academic Career - Grant, W., Palgrave Macmillan, 2006*

* These titles are on the Library catalogue (Encore).