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PhilosophyPart of Humanities

James Evans BA Economics and Philosophy

Policy Analyst in the Cabinet Office

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Hi, I'm James Evans and I studied BA Economics and Philosophy within Philosophy at the University of Southampton.

Clear communication is a skill that philosophy instils, and a skill which I employ on a day-to-day basis when responding to a range of stakeholders. It is paramount in passing assessment centres and I believe will be increasingly valued as developed economies continue their shift toward service industries.

How did you get interested in Philosophy?

My first interest was Economics; how resources can be used for the greatest benefit to society. But I was less interested in a mathematical approach and more interested in the underlying theory and assumptions. Philosophy and Economics are actually closely related, with a large part of Philosophy asking what the good life is, and Economics supplying the tools to help achieve it.

Why did you choose to study at Southampton?

I wanted to study combined honours Philosophy and Economics (without Politics), and was looking for a campus university. Both departments were well-regarded at Southampton.

What did you like most about your degree programme?

I chose a course with a lot of variety, and appreciated the in-depth knowledge of Philosophy staff which was evident (without exception) from their lectures. However the highlight for me was writing my dissertation, where I could draw on the topics I found most interesting from across Philosophy and Economics.

Which philosophers did you like to study?

I found most of the ‘great’ philosophers to be thought-provoking, and particularly so for Descartes, Bentham (who lived down the road from where I now work), Mill, Hume and Kant. But studying Nietzsche in my final year completely changed the way I think about ethics.

What was the best thing about living and studying in Southampton?

I’m sure most students will make great friends wherever they study, and this was true for me at Southampton. But I personally found the academic side of the experience most fulfilling, and really looked forward to some of my lectures!

What have you been doing since you graduated?

I spent a year studying for a masters degree at York, before joining the world of work at a small consultancy in Manchester. I found the pace and variety of work at a consultancy to be a great benefit to my development. For the last two years I’ve been working in the Civil Service Fast Stream, first at the Department for Work and Pensions and currently at the Cabinet Office – where I work in the Efficiency and Reform team.

Has studying Philosophy helped you in your career?

Definitely. If I learnt anything from studying philosophy it was the importance of clarity. Working within a large organisation, it is apparent that understanding of complex problems counts for little if it cannot be communicated to colleagues. Clear communication is a skill that philosophy instils, and a skill which I employ on a day-to-day basis when responding to a range of stakeholders. It is paramount in passing assessment centres and I believe will be increasingly valued as developed economies continue their shift toward service industries.

Are you still interested in Philosophy?

Very much so – though I’m afraid I haven’t had much time for it since starting work. I find it does crop up now and again though, such as Bentham’s legacy within the ‘National Well-being Debate’, or references in films.

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