Why Study Humanities? Unveiling Career Opportunities and Beyond

Student smiling in front of bridge and river

One of the great things about studying in the UK is the sheer number of courses available. No matter what you want to do in the future, there will be a leading course somewhere in the country that will help put you on the right track.

The UK has some of the world’s best scientific and vocational programmes. The kinds of subjects often set students down a particular career path – providing them with the qualifications they need to enter a specific field. But there is also an abundance of humanities subjects available – topics like history, philosophy and the arts that study human society and culture.

While these areas do have roles that require subject-specific qualifications – often students choose humanities subjects as part of a pursuit of knowledge itself. To expand their understanding of a certain area or personal interest. Many of the greatest academics in humanities, both historically and today, have taught at British universities, and the skills humanities students learn go on to enrich human culture in a range of fields.

Here, we explain exactly why choosing to study for a humanities degree at Durham University might be the best career choice you’ve made so far.

What are benefits of studying humanities? 

As well as covering a broad range of subjects, by studying the societal and cultural achievements of humans throughout time, humanities students also develop a range of highly useful soft skills. These include: 

  • Critical thinking – this is a key skill that not only enhances your problem-solving abilities, but it can also help you revaluate the world around you. By thinking critically, you learn how to find holes in others’ arguments and assess situations, all while improving your decision-making abilities.
  • Empathy – by taking into account a diverse range of cultures and viewpoints, you will inevitably become a more well-rounded, compassionate person. The world is full of lived experiences you have the opportunity to learn from, but only by becoming an empathetic person can you really take advantage of what these experiences have to offer.
  • Communication – being a good communicator is one of the most essential day-to-day skills. It helps to build relationships, the importance of which cannot be downplayed as you navigate life. In any field of work, at home, or with friends, being able to effectively communicate is key to success.
  • Ethical insights – whether it is in day-to-day life; in books you read and movies you watch; or by studying literature, philosophy and history, we are often surrounded by ethical dilemmas. Being able to engage with them, understand reasoning, and come to your own conclusions is another essential problem-solving skill.
  • Global competence – the world is a big place, and as time moves on, it is only becoming increasingly connected. Humanities students learn to look at the world holistically, seeing the different ways that cultures from across the globe interact. Through this, they gain the cultural sensitivity that is crucial to success in the twenty—first century.

Career options in humanities

Degrees in humanities do more than set you up for careers in the areas you study. History students don’t all become historians in the same way that maths students don’t all go on to become mathematicians. Instead, humanities set people up to enter a range of exciting careers, such as:

  • Broadcasting – many of the most successful people in radio or television, including both presenters and those behind-the-scenes working in production, studied humanities subjects at university.
  • Artist management – the key life skills students develop through humanities courses make them the ideal candidates to guide and promote musicians’ careers: handling bookings, dealing with contracts, and organising publicity.
  • Teachers – teaching is arguably the most invaluable occupation on Earth. As well as becoming experts in their subject matter, many humanities students use the soft skills they build to become inspirational teachers.
  • Entrepreneur – by becoming an expert at communication and understanding what makes people tick has set many humanities students up to become highly successful entrepreneurs. The skills they learn on their degrees help them develop innovative ideas into successful ventures through strategic planning and execution.

Study humanities at Durham University

The UK is full of universities that provide humanities course, but few of them can promise the top-flight education you will receive at Durham University. We have been ranked fifth in the country for history and inside the top ten for music by The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide. Meanwhile, our Arts and Humanities subject areas as a whole are ranked in the world’s top 50, according to QS World Subject Rankings.

Students benefit from access to our leading faculty and world-class facilities, but we also recognise our responsibility to help you take the first steps in your post-academic careers. That’s why many of our humanities degrees offer either a year abroad or a placement year to help further build employability and expand your learning.

Studying at Durham University also means being able to explore the rich history and natural beauty of the city of Durham itself. From cobbled streets and idyllic British countryside to the city’s renowned museums, theatres, art galleries and UNESCO site – it truly is a cultural and heritage hotspot.

Please take a moment to explore our International Study Centre’s website to learn about our international foundation year and pre-masters programmes, entry requirements, fees, and visa information. We look forward to welcoming you to Durham in the next academic year.


Are the humanities a good career for the future?

The soft skills taught in humanity are found on almost every job description. Being empathetic, knowing how to do research, learning to think critically will help set you up for a career in almost every field.

What are the advantages of studying humanities?

Studying humanities gives you in-depth knowledge of the subject area you’re studying. However, it also provides access and training in a broad range of soft skills, such as critical thinking, communication skills, cultural awareness, ethical insight, and creativity.

How many years is a humanities degree?

Most students complete their undergraduate studies in humanities in three to four years.