A qualification from the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations will open the door to a variety of career options.

Career choices

A degree in History, Philosophy, Political Science or International Relations opens up a wide range of interesting career options in a variety of areas:

  • administration and management
  • contract or freelance writing projects
  • education
  • ethics
  • government
  • heritage and historical conservation
  • human resources
  • international organisations
  • library and information management
  • parliament
  • policy-making
  • research and report-writing.

Additional information on possible career options can be found on the University's Careers website.

History graduates

  • Jonathan Sarich—Research Analyst
  • Sarah Whitehead—Museum Curator

Jonathan Sarich

Jonathan Sarich began study in 2000, completing Honours in 2004 and Master's in 2007. His thesis examined the production, content and distribution of the New Zealand Official Yearbook from 1893 to 1923 within the context of New Zealand state growth and international development of official statistics. Jonathan is now employed at the Waitangi Tribunal as a Research Analyst/Inquiries Facilitator. His position involves conducting commissioned research examining historical claims as well as playing a facilitating role helping claimants through the Tribunal process.

Sarah Whitehead

Sarah Whitehead completed her BA (Psychology and History) in 2004, Honours in History in 2005 and Master's in History in 2008. Her Master's thesis examined cartoons as historical sources, exploring the ways in which New Zealand cartoonists portrayed the national war effort during World War One. Sarah's previous work has focused on the history of New Zealand propaganda, sport and home front experiences during World War One. Her first article was published in the 2006 edition of the Melbourne Historical Journal, and investigated the impact of World War One on rugby in New Zealand. Sarah now works as Curator of Canterbury Social History at Canterbury Museum in Christchurch. As a curator she collects and cares for artefacts relating to Canterbury and New Zealand social history, gives talks and behind-the-scenes tours of the collections, writes research and develops exhibitions for the Museum.

Philosophy graduates

  • Adrian Currie
  • Louise Hull—Policy Analyst
  • Roger Sansom—Philosopher

Adrian Currie

Adrian was awarded his MA from Victoria University of Wellington in 2011 for his thesis entitled 'The Role of Analogy in Adaptive Explanation'. He received his PhD from the Australian National University (ANU) in 2014 and his supervisor, Professor Kim Sterelny, was a previous staff member in the Philosophy programme at Victoria.

Adrian is currently an Eyes High Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Calgary working primarily in the philosophy of science and has published, or has forthcoming, nine articles since 2014. He's also a contributor to Extinct, a blog on philosophy of paleontology. An article showcasing Adrian's career to date can be found on the Blog of the APA.

Louise Hull

Louise works for the Ministry of Economic Development, working as a researcher and analyst in the industry and regional development branch. She deals with theory, analysis and argument for various types of government intervention to aid aspects of the New Zealand economy.

She believes that she wouldn't have her job without a Master's which she did for the enjoyment of the subject, and the bargaining power of having a Master's. It turned out that a Master in Arts was the best possible training for the field she has ended up in. Economics is searching for theories of behaviour and often lacks the rigorous analysis one might expect, and Philosophy has given her a grounding in theory and a discipline in reasoning and analysis which has made doing her job possible, and made it possible to do it well.

Studying Philosophy, but especially writing a Master's thesis, taught her how to grapple with unfamiliar theory, analyse unfamiliar problems and spot poorly worked ideas and arguments in an unknown topic. This is amazingly useful when you have to move into unfamiliar territory.

Roger Sansom

Roger stumbled onto Philosophy by an accident of scheduling as an undergraduate and has yet to quit the habit, which has taken him on to a PhD from the University of North Carolina and an assistant professorship at Texas A & M University.

The Philosophy programme at Victoria prepared him very well for his academic career. The classes he took consisted mainly of presenting contemporary problems in an interesting way, offering a number of proposed solutions along with their weaknesses, and required that he figure out his own view and justify it. It demanded a combination of creativity and rigor that he found in no other programme. He models the way that he teaches now on how he was taught at Victoria.

His research also owes a great deal to what he learned at Victoria. His main project brings together the connectionist theory of mind with the problem of gene regulation in developmental biology. He learned about connectionism and gained his general interest in philosophy of biology at Victoria.

Victoria's Philosophy programme boasts staff who are not just excellent academics, they are also open and friendly. The programme is small enough to form a close intellectual and social community, of which he still feels a part.

Political Science and International Relations

  • Harshan Kumarasingham—Treasury Analyst
  • Darren Hughes—Member of the New Zealand Parliament
  • Simon Power—Member of the New Zealand Parliament

Harshan Kumarasingham

I meandered into Political Science not really knowing what I was getting into, but soon realised that was the whole point. Once I started, I wanted to know more, much more, which meant doing a wide variety of courses (and degrees) covering topics from Demosthenes to Dalits from Ecologism to Elizabeth II. Politics gave me a thirst for research, perspective and questioning, which made it almost automatic to pursue postgraduate study. I completed a PhD in comparative politics, which allowed me to satisfy my thirst for the above in Australia, India, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom through fellowships and scholarships.

Political Science along with History gave me the skills and allowed me to appreciate so many wide areas of analysis that are applicable in every possible field. That's the benefit of a Political Science degree—you can use your skills anywhere—even at The Treasury where I work, using the analytical skills and different thinking gained from studying Political Science, a discipline which is highly respected for bringing those talents to the table. I like to keep involved by writing academic articles and as a Fellow at the School of Government—in fact you never really leave politics since no matter what career you pursue it is always relevant.

Darren Hughes and Simon Power

A number of current Members of the New Zealand Parliament are graduates of Victoria's Political Science and International Relations programme. These include Darren Hughes (Labour Party) and Simon Power (National Party).

Master of International Relations graduates

  • Vicki Soanes—UNICEF
  • Kevin Aldridge—NZ Army
  • Pascal Reiling—recent graduate

Vicki Soanes

Immediately prior to enrolling in the MIR I was working as the main representative of International Movement ATD Fourth World, an International Non-Government Organisations at the United Nations in New York. The main focus of my work was round increased participation of people living in poverty in UN processes and policy development, and the promotion of a human rights approach to the eradication of poverty. I returned to New Zealand and enrolled in the MIR as I wanted to take some time to reflect on the work that I had been doing and to learn about the 'bigger picture'. I aimed to learn about the theoretical frameworks that affected the issues at the international level and to make a connection between them and the struggles that grassroots organisations faced.

The course has been everything I expected and more. I found every class to be both challenging and rewarding and I looked forward to our sessions each week. Many of the questions I came with were answered, although often not in the ways I expected. The lecturers created an atmosphere of respect and integrity in class, whereby we were able to exchange diverse views in a constructive manner. I have enjoyed the diverse range of experiences of the group, and learnt as much from my classmates as through the course itself, a process of exchange and support which I hope has formed the basis of lasting friendships. Although it was a leap of faith to leave my work in the United Nations community in New York and return to University after many years away, there is no question that I made the right decision. I was happy to be able to apply my 'real-world' experience to an academic venture, and to realise that my experience supported my learning. The knowledge and understanding that I have gained through the course will enable me to be more effective at my work, and has helped me develop my critical thinking skills. I am looking forward to applying those skills back in the workforce, and am fortunate to have secured a Wellington-based role with UNICEF.

Kevin Aldridge

I am a senior Army Officer with 35 years' military experience. My experience has involved a mixture of intelligence, operations, training and logistics jobs. I have also held management positions leading organisations ranging from 30 to 200 people. I have a BA from the University of New South Wales with a double major in History and Government. I am an Associate Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management and I am a graduate of the Australian Defence Force Command and Staff College – a one-year residential course. I enrolled in the MIR to increase my knowledge of current international relations theory and to revise my academic skills.

The MIR course has proved to be both enlightening and challenging. The course content has provided a great insight into the basis of the present international system and the theories that have been developed to try to explain how states interact in positive and negative ways. The contemporary International Relations topics demonstrated the complexity of the modern world and provided a context for current issues, and the weekly discussions were challenging and illuminating. Because of the mixture of people doing the degree a wide variety of experiences and opinions were represented. This variety led to discussion and debate that increased my knowledge of International Relations and my ability to argue a point. The course work allowed me to develop my academic skills of being able to research a topic and then construct a convincing argument that could stand up to a robust critic. The knowledge that I have gained from the MIR is being used daily in my present job as Head of Defence Intelligence for the New Zealand Defence Force. The MIR has motivated me to want to know even more about the classical political philosophers and major International Relations theorists to build on the knowledge and experience I have gained from the course. The greatest benefit from the MIR is that it make us think about the world in a deep and meaningful way as we search for wisdom.

Pascal Reiling

Before enrolling at Victoria last year and completing a one-year Graduate Diploma in Arts, I studied Business in Germany and France and worked for three years in the Tourism sector. I chose to come to New Zealand and to enrol at Victoria in order to gain an interdisciplinary academic background and widening my general knowledge.

The MIR was an excellent postgraduate programme that allowed me to gain a greater understanding of international politics and complemented and intensified the knowledge I gained during my Graduate Diploma in Arts. The MIR programme of study is structured in such a way that it gives a comprehensive theoretical framework for analysing international politics. Moreover these analytical skills allowed me to critically engage with international political issues of my interest.

I enjoyed many aspects of the MIR programme: the diversified nature of the readings, the structure and content of the classes, the lively and insightful seminars and the support of the lecturing staff. Overall, I found the MIR to be both challenging and deeply interesting and am very pleased to have completed this programme. I am confident that the knowledge and academic skills I gained during the MIR will assist me in greatly furthering my career.

Master of Strategic Studies graduate

Charmian Julie Taylor

In 2002 Charmian moved from Rotorua to attend Victoria University where she obtained a BA in Psychology and Criminology, followed by a BA (Hons) in Criminology. Following graduation she worked firstly with the Ministry of Justice and then moved on to work in the field of intelligence at Police National Headquarters. She was accepted into the Master of Strategic Studies programme with her manager's encouragement and support.

In 2011 Charmian was awarded the Prime Minister's Prize in Strategic Studies. Her research examined how terrorist, extremist and organised crime groups are utlising the internet and web-based technology, and identified points of convergence where intelligence operations can share resources in order to achieve the most effective results.

Charmian is now a Senior Intelligence Analyst with the Department of Corrections.