"Flexible futures" is STS's career development strategy. Our degrees allow people to follow their passions while also preparing for a wide range of careers. We build a broad portfolio of skills.
Create a Flexible Future
"Flexible futures" is STS's career development strategy. Our degrees allow people to follow their passions while also preparing for a wide range of careers. We build expertise and substance. We also build broad portfolio of skills sought in today's job market.
We live in the age of generalists when it comes to undergraduate degrees. Overspecialisation can be risky business. It might be right for some careers, but it's not best for many others. For twenty-five years, UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) has offered degrees aiming towards highly skilled general preparation for careers. It's a strategy focused on learning adaptive approaches to work and flexibility for a future where the only certainty is change.
Which skills will I develop?
STS offers excellent generalised, adaptive skill development, and we place a heavy emphasis on critical thinking, effective writing and presentation skills, research, and analysis. These skills are in strong demand across nearly all employment sectors. Our track record with graduates shows we know how to build adaptive skills and flexible attitudes. These get put to work as the future comes more into focus. We have been commended for innovative methods of assessment and portfolio-building, too. Depending on which modules you choose, you may be asked to produce a short film, record a podcast, or write a blog – skills you’re more likely to use in your career than traditional long-form essay writing.
STS reviews our programmes regularly to ensure we match our skills development with employer demand and introduces new modules each year to stay up to date – for example, in 2017 we introduced new modules on "Science and the Publishing Industry" and "Science in Government" because we identified specific career directions for our programmes we wanted our students to encounter.
Because they used their degree to build adaptive skills and to sharpen those they brought to us, many of our graduates were ready to pounce when opportunities arose in their lives after university. Many of our alumni can give first-hand examples of how their STS skills helped them land jobs and build their current careers – listen to some of our alumni interviews.
How does STS help me find a career?
Our "flexible futures" philosophy builds on five key themes:
1. Substance is supreme
Employers know an important truth: if a job applicant can show they've done something hard; they've also shown they can do just about anything. This speaks to a person's dedication and perseverance, their confidence, and their ambition. STS degrees cover a huge range of complex areas, providing both breadth and depth of understanding – and how to successfully communicate those complex ideas to others.
2. "More skills" lead to "More flexibility"
The skills needed for a career can often be found outside of the subjects one would expect. For example, history and philosophy are hugely popular for those going into law. Both subjects require critical thinking, clever researching, and solid communication skills. This creates a win-win situation when it comes to choosing a university degree. If law no longer appeals as a career, those skills learned along the way are still useful for other opportunities.
Employers can spot people who can think for themselves, reason clearly, sift information, and stand on their own two feet. In addition to everything else we attempt, STS works hard to ensure all of our graduates can stand out from the crowd.
3. Mentoring matters
Everyone remembers a great teacher. STS scores consistently highly on national metrics, such as the NSS. We are recognised as outstanding when UCL reviews our quality. STS tutors win teaching awards, and we pursue national qualifications in education.
STS keeps its student-to-tutor ratio low, with one of the lowest ratios at UCL. We provide individual personal and academic mentoring. We arrange paid summer internships and unpaid volunteering opportunities. We work closely with UCL careers services and other support units. Our students are core to the community we've put so much effort into creating.
4. Portfolios are proof
Employers want to see results. A strong overall degree, and a solid, diverse portfolio, are the results we seek for every student. STS students create products that show skills at work in real-world settings. They publish academic papers and discuss their work at professional conferences. They co-author public policy briefings, submit writing for competitions, publish films and blogs, produce advertising campaigns and lobby public officials. They debate their ideas in events they themselves organise, and they present exhibitions of their own design. STS students also know how to judge their own success, evaluate effectiveness, and consider how best to improve.
5. There's more to science than lab work
Science is an enormous part of the global economy, and it offers many more types of jobs than "scientist". STS degrees are attractive to applicants seeking careers in science communication and science policy, amongst other areas. Interestingly, our degrees also are attractive to students who studied science intensively in school, but who have decided that a life at the lab bench is not for them. They seek ways to use their education, and they discover the potential of STS.
Why should you study STS at UCL?
UCL was the first university in the world to have our subject as a separate academic department. We are the largest department of our kind in the UK. We began in 1921, specialising in history and philosophy of science. We were the first UK department to offer Master's degrees in our subject (beginning in the 1920s). We were the first to introduce an undergraduate degree in 1993.
STS combines a unique range of subjects under one roof, and the department prides itself on the quality of its interdisciplinary research. STS students regularly share classes with students from all other UCL faculties – you could be debating with natural science students in the morning and collaborating with arts students in the afternoon. This range of experience helps our graduates develop as broad a range of knowledge as possible.
STS is in the heart of Bloomsbury, itself the heart of London's "knowledge quarter". STS programmes take full advantage of the world-class resources the city offers: Parliament, ministries and embassies, the BBC, production houses, and advertising houses; political think-tanks, NGOs, lobby groups, and funding agencies. To these, add national and specialised museums in science, arts, natural history, and maritime history. Plus, libraries galore. We like to take our learning outside the classroom to connect our academic work to the real world around us, and regularly work with organisations such as the Wellcome Trust and the Science Museum as part of our modules.