Physiology opens up many careers in science and healthcare. You could find yourself working for the NHS or the armed forces
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Biomedical scientist
- Clinical research associate
- Exercise physiologist
- Healthcare scientist, audiology
- Healthcare scientist, physiology
- Research scientist (medical)
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Medical sales representative
- Science writer
- Secondary school teacher
- Therapeutic radiographer
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
It's useful to find work experience in an area related to the career you'd like to enter. A placement in a hospital department is valuable when applying for clinical physiology posts. Some degrees offer this type of experience as part of the course, but you can always be proactive and arrange a placement yourself. You should visit hospital departments or make speculative applications for placements in the relevant departments and clinics.
Laboratory experience and knowledge of the range of techniques used can also be helpful, particularly for research posts.
Other part-time, vacation or volunteering work which shows your interest in the career is also useful.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
The major scientific employers of physiology graduates are:
- research centres and academic institutions
- pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies
- the National Health Service (NHS) - specialist areas include cardiac sciences, audiology, neurophysiology, critical care science, respiratory physiology, sleep physiology and gastrointestinal (GI) physiology
- private sector hospitals, medical centres and healthcare organisations.
The armed forces also employ clinical physiologists. Opportunities are also available with scientific publishers, in secondary schools or colleges as a science teacher, or with scientific sales and marketing companies.
Non-scientific employers include:
- management consultancies
- law and accountancy firms
- banks and other financial institutions
- retail companies.
Skills for your CV
Studying physiology helps you develop skills in planning, conducting/evaluating experiments, and researching and interpreting scientific literature. You also develop the ability to communicate science to both peers and non-scientists.
You gain a wide range of skills sought by both scientific and non-scientific employers, including:
- analytical and problem-solving
- using judgement, decision-making and questioning
- the ability to identify, select, organise and communicate information and data
- computing, statistics and numeracy
- attention to detail
- planning, organisation and time management
- teamworking and collaborating between groups
- persistence and resilience to retry experiments.
Some graduates choose to undertake a second undergraduate degree, such as medicine or dentistry. There are graduate fast-track courses available at some UK universities.
Some go on to become healthcare scientists (also known as clinical scientists) by undertaking further training and study on the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP).
Others continue their interest in physiology through a postgraduate qualification such as an MSc, MRes or PhD. In academia, a PhD is generally required to obtain a lectureship. In industry, some large employers, such as major pharmaceutical companies, may sponsor a relevant part-time Masters or PhD.
Some graduates move away from pure physiology through an MSc or diploma in related subjects such as forensic science or toxicology, while others change direction studying something different, e.g. law or computing.
What do physiology graduates do?
Further study is a popular option for physiology graduates. Nearly a third are in further study six months after graduation, 37% of whom are studying medicine.
|Working and studying||8.4|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Retail, catering and bar work||14.3|
|Technicians and other professionals||9.4|
|Childcare, health and education work||9.3|
For a detailed breakdown of what physics graduates are doing six months after graduation, see
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.