Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Anthropology alumnus highlights career opportunities for graduates

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Paul Collinson

How does Anthropology lead you to a career in the Ministry of Defence (MOD) or the Civil Service? Alumnus Paul Collinson recently returned to Oxford Brookes to give a talk to current Anthropology students on the unique perspective which the subject gives.

Paul read for a Postgraduate Social Anthropology degree at Oxford Brookes and graduated with a PhD in 1994. His thesis topic was: ‘Development, local politics and the "new Europe" in County Donegal: an ethnographic study'.

Commenting on his his experience at the university, he said:

“It was fantastic and the quality of teaching was really high.” Paul admits that the link to the MOD and Civil Service was not apparent at first:

“This was not my intended work path - I worked in record shops before I started Postgraduate studies. Someone I worked with suggested the idea.”

Paul has since gone on to work at a senior level in the Civil Service. In terms of employability, he summed up the subject’s strong points:

“Anthropology teaches you to write well. You also gain methodological and qualitative skills, within the social sciences. These are transferable skills, alongside communication; you have to work together and build relationships. The methods you are taught, such as creating a literature review, train you to develop a holistic approach.”

Paul’s tips for students interested in careers in the Civil Service are the following:

  1. Do summer internships to gain exposure to the Civil Service.
  2. Attend the Houses of Parliament with topics relevant to study.
  3. Make an application that will stand out, interesting, unusual, everything you've done; think laterally, outside of your degree.

 Oxford Brookes has raised the profile of employability, with the appointment of a dedicated member of staff with a brief to ensure industry links across subjects.