The background to the Beyond the PhD project.

The ‘Beyond the PhD’ project was originally run by the Centre for Career Management Skills (CCMS) a HEFCE funded Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Reading, whose career professionals interviewed individuals with arts and humanities PhDs. The aim was to shed light on the diverse paths postgraduate researchers take after graduation, moving beyond simple career advice. The often-overlooked aspects of career journeys—emotions, personal stories, and unexpected events that lead to unforeseen outcomes are covered in the individuals stories.

When the original resource was closed, Inkpath offered its support to host the materials, and they have since been signed over to Inkpath (with all necessary consents) so we can continue to make these valuable interviews available to access free of charge.

What did the original project aim to do?

Beyond the PhD aimed to explore questions like: How do people decide between an academic career or other options? How do those with clear goals achieve them? What happens when someone isn’t shortlisted for their initial job applications? How do long-held career aspirations evolve under practical pressures like paying bills? And, how do individuals reconcile taking a job outside academia with their academic identity developed over years of postgraduate study?

Discussing career aspirations and concerns with others, and gaining an objective perspective, can be crucial in figuring out what we want to do, when to do it, and how to go about it. While it’s important to learn from those with experience, accessing their insights can be challenging. ‘Beyond the PhD’ offers a unique opportunity to hear from a diverse group of individuals who have transitioned from arts and humanities PhDs to various careers. Through audio interviews, they share candid reflections on facing challenges, seizing opportunities, and making decisions.

Interviewees discuss their PhD experiences, their transition from final-year writing to employment, the contexts of their current roles, and how their PhD has prepared them. They address practical career-building activities and philosophical questions about personal identity in relation to both work and their PhD.

We hope you will see aspects of your own journey in these stories, but you may not find an exact match to your profile. Instead, we encourage you to explore the material with an open mind, gaining insights from others’ experiences that may illuminate your own path.


Beyond the PhD has been developed by Shauna Concannon, Julia Horn, Jessica March, Finbar Mulholland, Catherine Reynolds and Rachel Stewart at the Centre for Career Management Skills (CCMS) a HEFCE funded Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Reading. Others closely involved in the development of this project include: CCMS postgraduate Group, Cindy Becker, Janet Metcalfe at Vitae, Jo Moyle and Sally Pawlik. We would like to thank the postgraduate researchers at the University of Reading and the University of Sussex who have contributed to surveys, focus groups and user-testing during the development of this project. We are also enormously grateful to those who have generously given their time to be interviewed.

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