Alumni Stories: Meet one of our Philosophy graduates

by | Mar 10, 2022 | Alumni/careers, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Postgraduate | 0 comments

Jonathan Howie, Trainee Solicitor. Graduated from our MA Philosophy programme in 2018.

Jonathan is in the process of completing a training contract with a city law firm to qualify as a solicitor for England and Wales. The role involves rotating around a number of areas of law with a view to finding a suitable practice area to qualify. Prior to the training contract, Jonathan worked for the civil service alongside studying for his postgraduate degree here at The University of Manchester.

Why did you originally choose to study your course at Manchester?

Following my Undergraduate degree, the University of Manchester offered me a scholarship to continue study through to Postgraduate level.”

Did you always know you wanted to do the career you’re in? Did your course or time at the University help influence this? 

“I had some interest in the law during my undergraduate degree, but it was through making use of the University careers service, and associated research, during my postgraduate degree that I developed that interest into a conviction. 

I had always appreciated the transferable skills, which the study of Philosophy helped me to develop, and I continue to find them valuable in my career.”

How did your course set you up for your career path?

“The course gave me a number of opportunities to learn analytical skills and craft abstract arguments.  Those aspects have proved invaluable in my legal career.

The diet of material within the course was broad.  That encouraged the development of my analytical skills such as: the ability to immerse oneself into new areas of study; the ability to digest, and subsequently marshal, large amounts of complex information; and sensitivity to changes in philosophical position, however delicate.

The course required the production of several essays and a dissertation.  Those provided the opportunity to develop searching, yet robust, arguments based on complicated philosophical positions. 

In short, the course gave me confidence to think clearly about abstract and complicated problems which I have frequently encountered in the law.”  

What was the most surprising takeaway from your course that’s helped you later in life?

“I frequently find distinctions in abstract philosophical discussions (and not just Occam’s Razor!) to have real applicability to legal problems.”

What advice would you give to a student looking to start your course and/or join the University?

“Enjoy the intellectual freedom which the course affords.  Both for the intrinsic joy and for the lifelong skills which the course can provide.”