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Economic, Political & Social Research / Intelligence


Economists collect, study and analyse data in order to provide specialist economic advice to various organisations, including government agencies, economic consultancies, major companies, banks, financial institutions, higher education establishments and investment groups.

Social Researchers plan, design, conduct and manage social research projects, reporting on findings to clients and key stakeholders in order to influence policy decisions.

As a Government Social Research Officer, you'll provide research to aid the analysis and decision making of government ministers and other elected officials - with regard to developing, implementing and evaluating new and existing government policies.

Intelligence Analysts help keep the country secure by assessing and interpreting intelligence data. In the UK your role as an intelligence analyst is to protect UK national security and economic wellbeing, as well as to detect and prevent serious organised crime, such as terrorist attacks, cybercrime and drug trafficking.

Policy Officers use their findings from research and analysis to advise government, think tanks, charities and businesses about the potential impact of policy decisions.

Political Risk Analysts examine issues such as economic conditions, crime levels, threat of conflict, government stability and governance, trade and regulations, or humanitarian and human rights issues to inform business and investment decisions, or to influence or assist national and international policy making and strategy.

Career Zone Employability Schemes

To help increase your work experience and networks in this area 

  • Career Zone Internship schemes: Internships can be extremelyuseful, so try and get relevant vacation work or placements.  
  • Ask an Alum: A fuss-free way to connect with University of Exeter alumni to ask careers questions.
  • Career Mentor Scheme: A popular employability scheme which matches a student or graduate with an experienced professional, for sector insight and one-to-one careers advice and guidance, over a 6-month period. 
  • Pathways to Arts, Culture and Heritage: A sector specific programme, consisting of employer-led training, group work and a paid internship. 

Information Resources

Watch the following videos to get a feel for some of the roles within the sector:

For general information about finding graduate opportunities, please visit our Graduate Jobs page, and for a list of general job search engines please visit our general job sources page. You could also have a look at Handshake, our vacancy database with employers who are targeting University of Exeter students.


The Civil Service and government


  • MI5
  • MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service)
  • GCHQ - communications work for linguists, political analysts and IT specialists
  • Dstl - Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory

Policy and Research 

Social Research 

These roles often involve a crossover with policy and information work. Local authorities tend to advertise vacancies through national and local press and on their own websites. 

Look for job vacancies at: 

Speculative applications / Directories 

As jobs are not always advertised, it can be useful to develop your networking skills and also apply speculatively. You could use business directories and/or the Global Business Network to find potential organisations to contact.  

Internships and work experience will enhance your chances of employment.

  • Adam Smith Institute: internships specialising in the free market and social policy
  • Chatham House: internships in international economics and regional studies
  • Citizens Advice Bureau: Volunteer with the CAB and help members of the public resolve various issues. There may also be the opportunity to get involved with research or campaigning
  • CIVITAS: voluntary and paid internships in research
  • Demos: Research, communications and events placements
  • Henry Jackson Society: voluntary internships in research
  • House of Commons: placement scheme giving an insight into governance and the running of Parliament
  • NatCen: Offers flexible, paid internships in social research
  • Operation Black Vote: OBV's MP Shadowing Scheme gives black and ethnic minority people a chance to work shadow MPs
  • Traineeships and study visits to the European Parliament
  • W4MP: Internships and work experience in politics, social research and think thanks
  • YouGov internships: YouGov offers internships to penultimate year students and graduates, to gain experience in market research 

As jobs are not always advertised, it can be useful to develop your networking skills and also apply speculatively

If you have studied a related degree, check if your course is accredited by one of the professional bodies. Being a member of a professional body is voluntary however, it can be valuable for developing networks, continuing your professional development, and generally keeping up to date with what's happening in the sector.

There are a wide range of professional bodies and the relevant ones will depend on the specific area you are interested in working in, here are a few which may be of interest. Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec)

To find sector-specific professional bodies visit the relevant sector page.  If your sector of interest is not listed on this page you may find a professional association related to it on the Directory of the Professions website.

If you would like to pursue postgraduate study before entering your chosen sector, please visit our Postgraduate Study information page for more information about choosing further study.