Social and statistical research

Research roles exist in the private, public and charity sectors, both in-house and in specialist consultancies.

Operational research

Operational research is the discipline of constructing and applying mathematical methods and logic to make better decisions.
The career is open to graduates of any discipline with a 2:1 or higher, although most entrants have studied subjects with significant mathematical, statistical or computing content. A masters degree in Operational Research or Management Science is often required.

Public affairs consultancy

Also known as lobbyists public affairs consultants offer political and public policy advice to clients. They need to constantly monitor and research political and policy developments in order to be able to advise their clients how to respond. Typically public affairs consultants work for a consultancy, but in-house roles also exist in organisations eg public sector bodies, charities, private companies, pressure groups and professional associations. The career is open to graduates of any discipline. Personal qualities and experience in and around politics are usually more important than your degree subject. It is a competitive field so it is vital to gain as much work experience as possible. Some consultancies offer internships, as do European institutions. Other valuable experiences include campaigning for a charity or pressure group, involvement/work experience with a political organisation (eg political party, Students Union, trade union, think tank) or a member of a political institution (eg MP, MEP, peer).

Policy research

Policy officers/researchers help to devise research methodologies including primary and secondary sources, qualitative and quantitative methods to help governments create policies or to review existing policies with a view to recommending improvements and efficiencies where necessary. This could include working in government departments, the Civil Service, the Office of National Statistics, universities, charities or think tanks and lobbying groups.

Social research

Social research involves producing and analysing social data to provide evidence to organisations to help with decision making. Research may be conducted using either quantitative (eg census and survey) or qualitative (eg focus groups and interviews) data and methodologies or a combination of the two.

The career is open to graduates of any discipline but a relevant social science is preferred by most recruiters. Employers expect applicants to have a detailed knowledge of research techniques acquired through a masters in social research methods and/or a relevant PhD or MPhil.


Statisticians collect, analyse, interpret and present quantitative information. Statisticians are employed by government, and other public and private sector organisations which handle large amounts of data. A good knowledge of statistics are useful in a range of other research careers listed on this page as well as academia.

Entrants are usually expected to have a degree with a quantitative component including but not limited to: maths, economics, psychology, business, social science or geography

See also

Vacancy and further information