University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)

Employability and Careers

Preparing students for employment is an essential part of all programmes in Physics and Astronomy. When they graduate, students will be competing for graduate roles in the company of approximately 280,000 others nationally. Employers look for candidates who have developed their skills, abilities and ambitions. In addition to the assessed academic and personal skills integrated within the programmes, there is a schedule (below) of additional activities designed to enhance the employability of our graduates.

The University's Careers Zone website is for students and staff "aimed at enhancing students' academic learning and enabling them to become more employable".

Careers and Employability for students in CEMPS is an ELE module published by the Student Experience & Employability Team. The team is based in the Harrison Building and works to develop close links with employers, coordinate work placements and arrange careers events specifically aimed at CEMPS students. If you wish to meet with one of the employability team please get in touch with them at <>.

Schedule of Employability-Enhancing Activities

The Careers and Employability Team organise a

Key events typically include:

Schedule for Physics Students
AllStage 1T1:06 eXfactor: Employability and Professional Development Course - Course (2 day)
AllStage 1T1:06 Communication and Key Skills Course by Physics Staff
AllStage 1T2:06 Careers Planning for First Years - Talk (1hr)
AllStage 1T3:06 Grand Challenges - Collaborative Exercise
AllStage 2T1:03 Careers Planning for Second Years - Talk (1hr)
BScStage 2T1:09 CVs for Physicists - Talk (1hr)
BScStage 2T2:02 Effective Applications & Interviews - Talk (2hr)
BScStage 3T1:02 Careers Planning for Finalists - Talk (1hr)
BScStage 3T1:09 Introduction to Research Careers Talk (1hr) by Physics PG Admissions Officer
MPhysStage 3T1:08 CVs for Physicists - Talk (1hr)
MPhysStage 3T2:02 Effective Applications & Interviews - Talk (2hr)
AllStage 4T1:02 Careers Planning for Finalists - Talk (1hr)
MPhysStage 4T1:08 Introduction to Research Careers Talk (1hr) by Physics PG Admissions Officer


Graduate Employment

The University provides an Employability and Graduate Development (EGD) service based in The Career Zone in the Forum (Tel. 4493), and students are encouraged to seek preliminary advice no later than the beginning of their penultimate year. Services include careers advice, one-to-one meetings with a Careers Consultant, free workshops (including writing CVs, application forms, psychometric testing, interview skills) training (including negotiation skills, commercial awareness, running your own business), careers fairs, employer presentations, job vacancies and much more.

Job hunting can be a long and time-consuming task, and, for some, deciding on a career proves to be difficult. Useful sources of information recommended by the EGD for students seeking graduate (and vacation) employment include:

The Careers Service of the Institute of Physics has an excellent website with a section specifically designed for students. There is extensive advice concerning how to go about applying for jobs and how to undertake a 'Skills Audit'.

Vacation Employment for Physics Undergraduates

The opportunities for permanent and vacation employment of physicists are really quite good, and six to ten weeks spent working with a company during the summer vacation can:

Students wishing to make application to companies for vacation employment should make preliminary enquiries early in the autumn term. Most large companies will then provide an online application form for completion. The websites listed above in the 'Graduate Employment' advertise various types of vacation employment schemes.

The College's CandI module:

is a work placement that takes place over the summer between Stage 2 and Stage 3. These are normally paid placements in graduate level jobs. The value CandI adds to a normal work placement is that, when taken as an elective, it can contribute 15 credits towards the Stage 3 year of the following Physics programmes:

Assessment is through a technical report (70% of the total mark), a reflective and and an A1-size poster (30% of the total mark) and employer's evaluation.

Work placements are an effective way for all students to enhance their employability.

The Nuffield Foundation usually offers a limited number of awards to enable undergraduates to participate in scientific research during the summer vacation. The application must be made by the person supervising the research and the closing date for applications is usually late February.

The Institute of Physics Careers with Physics website has useful information for everyone, from those at school or college to those on the brink of retirement. The site is sub-divided into six main sections: Jobs, Professional Development, Qualifications, Resources, Events, and 'Why Physics?'. The Jobs section includes links to major internet employment sites, as well as the IoP PhysicsJobs and CV database. Topics covered include choosing a degree, CV and interview advice, career planning, and employment legislation.


According to the Graduate Prospects website, students who may be interested in teaching as a career will usually need to have 'recent observation experience in a state school' to be considered for a teacher-training course.

The Graduate School of Education provide 15- and 30-credit modules at NQF levels 5 and 6 that are suitable for Physics students to take as electives include teaching experience:

Participating in the School Experience Programme (SEP) is another way of gaining experience.

International Summer Schools for Undergraduates

Many large laboratories and Universities run International Summer Schools for undergraduate students. The location and nature of these vary from year to year (use Google). The University's Study Abroad Scholarship fund may be able to assist with the cost of attending one.

Voluntary Work

We encourage all our students to consider participating in some form of voluntary work, e.g. through the Guild's Community Action organisation. Voluntary work offers participants a chance to broaden their experience, make a positive contribution to the community, and enhance their employability.

Postgraduate Degrees

Members of staff, particularly final-stage tutors and the Postgraduate Admissions Officer, will provide informal advice for students considering PGCE, MSc or PhD qualifications either at Exeter or elsewhere. The studentships available are published on the CEMPS website.

Several recruitment agencies have WWW sites that offer a lot of free on-line advice and training for graduate job-hunters. SHL Direct is one example (no endorsement is implied).

The Exeter Award

The Exeter Award is an achievement award for current undergraduate and taught postgraduate students at the University of Exeter. It is based on a programme of extra-curricular activities and skills-development courses that help students to enhance their employability whilst at university.

Preparing a CV

Remember that a CV will often set the agenda for job interviews. Prepare a draft and get someone (preferably with experience of recruiting graduates) to read it through and describe the impression it makes. Update CVs in the light of experience at interviews.

The EGD CV Guidelines are a useful starting point. In addition to advice from tutors and/or the EGD Service, study the Institute of Physics advice:

Remember to check the spelling and grammar on everything you send to a potential employer.

Book a 1-1 appointment with the College's Careers Consultant in EGD (Rowanna Smith at the time of writing), if you want some useful tailored advice on your CV.


Members of staff will be happy to write references on your behalf, and it helps if you would:

  1. Complete and return the non-academic profile form as quickly as possible when asked to do so. (This helps us to provide information about your general interests.)
  2. Tell your referees about the job applications you make and the responsibilities they will involve.
  3. Give the College Student Experience & Employability Team, and your referees, details of the job you accept, since this enables us to keep accurate records.

University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)