Teaching ‘The Professional Political Scientist’ to prepare students for life outside academia

What happens to students after they leave academia is often a blind spot, both for teachers and students of political science. This uncertainty can often be a source of and stress for the latter group. As a result of repeated requests from the student body to address such issues, we created “the Professional Political Scientist,” a module that has been given three times until this date.

Offered as an elective module at the end of the Bachelors program and spanning fifteen credits, it is devised to aid students’ knowledge about how individuals with political science degrees find jobs, situate and translate what they have learned at the University into work-life skills, as well as introducing them to practical skills conventional political science educations often do not offer.

The course is centered around three main themes: working in public service, writing and communication in professional life, and introduction to project management. As much of this competence is lacking within a regular political science department, we use lecturers from several departments across the University along with, critically, a number of professionals coming in from working life.

Although it is too soon to say whether the course has aided their careers, the general sentiment from students has been highly positive. They consistently report satisfaction with learning “new” types of skills and knowledge, like presentation technique, different types of writing, and dealing with deadlines foreign to those set up in the classroom.

Our article in Politics provides thorough description of the course itself, the work involved with its preparation, as well as a number of pieces of advice for colleagues interested in offering similar career preparation efforts at their home departments.

Rasmus Broms is a researcher at the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg. His research focuses on public finance and institutional quality from a comparative perspective.

Jenny de Fine Licht is a researcher and lecturer at the School of Public Administration, University of Gothenburg. Her main research interests are transparency, auditing, and public acceptance of hard decisions

John Mills

John Mills

Editorial assistant for Politics

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