“A degree in philosophy? What are you going to do with that then?”
Philosophy students will tell you they’ve been asked this question more times than they care to remember.
“The response people seem to want is a cheery shrug and a jokey ‘don’t know’,” says Joe Cunningham, 20, a final-year philosophy undergraduate at Heythrop College, University of London.
A more accurate comeback, according to the latest statistics, is “just about anything I want”.
Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show philosophy graduates, once derided as unemployable layabouts, are in growing demand from employers. The number of all graduates in full-time and part-time work six months after graduation has risen by 9% between 2002-03 and 2005-06; for philosophy graduates it has gone up by 13%.