Political Scientist

Job Description:

Political scientists are experts in how policies and laws affect government, organisations, and citizens.

Job Category:
Professional Services

What you will do:

Your day-to-day will include tasks such as:

  • Interpret and analyze policies, public issues, legislation, or the operations of governments, businesses, and organizations.
  • Maintain current knowledge of government policy decisions.
  • Evaluate programs and policies, and make related recommendations to institutions and organizations.
  • Develop and test theories, using information from interviews, newspapers, periodicals, case law, historical papers, polls, or statistical sources.
  • Collect, analyze, and interpret data such as election results and public opinion surveys, reporting on findings, recommendations, and conclusions.
  • Write drafts of legislative proposals, and prepare speeches, correspondence, and policy papers for governmental use.
  • Forecast political, economic, and social trends.
  • Consult with and advise government officials, civic bodies, research agencies, the media, political parties, and others concerned with political issues.
  • Disseminate research results through academic publications, written reports, or public presentations.


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • administration & organisational skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptable)
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • excellent verbal communication skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Political Scientist, you should focus on building a strong educational background and relevant skills that prepare you for a career in political science, which is the systematic study of political systems, government policies, and political behavior. While there are no specific subjects required to become a Political Scientist, certain subjects and skills can be beneficial for pursuing this career. Here are some subjects and skills to consider:

  1. English: Strong written and verbal communication skills are essential for political scientists. You’ll need to write research papers, reports, and articles, as well as present your findings and ideas effectively.
  2. Mathematics: While not always required, a good understanding of mathematics can be helpful for analysing and interpreting political data and statistics.
  3. Social Sciences: Subjects like History, Geography, Sociology, and Government & Politics can provide a foundation in understanding political systems, historical context, and social dynamics.
  4. Economics: Economics is relevant for political scientists who focus on economic policy, public finance, or international political economy.

Post School

Most employers will expect you to have the minimum of a good degree (2:1 or higher) in Politics.

Some of the large research agencies run graduate training schemes and you may need a 2:1 or above to be considered for a place.

If you want to work in the higher education sector, a PhD may be particularly useful as an advanced understanding of subject-specific academic methodology is often appreciated.

Working Hours and Environment:

You could work in an office or be based overseas working sometimes more than 40 hours a week.

Career Path & Progression:

There are opportunities available in many types of organisation, including:

  • central government – political researchers work in the main
  • government departments (see government social research officer), as well as for the Scottish government
  • local government departments – particularly social services, housing, education and chief executive
  • large and small research agencies
  • higher education institutions.

If you’re working in higher education, you’ll either be employed in a large research centre, which employs both permanent and fixed-term research staff, or a university teaching department, where researchers are often employed on fixed-term contracts of one or two years.