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A billion-dollar industry: where a degree in the humanities can take you 

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Curtin students on set

Whether you dream about creating positive change, turning your hobby into a business or establishing a creative career overseas, a humanities degree could be your launching pad.  

📚 What are the humanities? 🌍 

The humanities refer to a range of disciplines that analyse human experience and the natural world and encourage creativity, communication and critical thinking. 

💡 Are humanities degrees worth it? 🤔 

You may have heard friends or colleagues share opinions like “humanities degrees are useless” or “humanities degrees just aren’t worth it!” but these thoughts couldn’t be further from the truth! 

In the comments section of a recent article featured by The New York Times (read the article on, graduates from a range of creative and educational industries described their humanities degrees as “soul enriching”, “life-saving” and “transformative”. (The article also references a recent study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences that found “humanities majors are comparably likely to be satisfied with their jobs and employed in supervisory roles as graduates from other majors.”)  

Following your passions and creating meaningful work has amazing mental health benefits – but did you know it’s also good for the economy?    

A ‘cultural export powerhouse’1 

In the last ten years, Australia’s cultural and creative industries have boomed.  Employing 6% of the population and generating more than a billion dollars to the national economy, employment in the creative sector has grown by an average rate of 3.8%, compared to just 2.4% for the rest of the workforce, and shows no signs of slowing down.2 

As a creative worker, you can also expect to earn a median salary higher than in other fields. The 2021 Census revealed that the median income for a creative worker in Western Australia was $76,600, more than 17% higher than the median income for the WA workforce overall.

What can I do with a humanities degree?

Curtin students surrounded by large screens featuring news items.

Humanities graduates drive innovation and make rich cultural and economic contributions across a wide range of industries. 

You could become… 

  • a teacher who inspires the next generation 👩‍🏫 
  • a designer, content creator or artist who offers different perspectives 🎨 
  • an architect who builds a better tomorrow 🏗️ 
  • a journalist who brings hidden stories to light 📰 
  • a diplomat who bridges social divides and influences global relations 🤝 
  • a historian who preserves and interprets the past for future generations 📜 
  • a translator who facilitates communication between speakers of different languages 🗣️ 
  • an anthropologist who studies and understands diverse human cultures. 🌍 

I chose to study Secondary Education because I wanted to be able to make a change – whether it was as small as putting a smile on a student’s face and having a laugh with them, or being a part of something bigger like helping a student go from a ‘B’ to an ‘A’. I wanted to be part of that change and make a difference in someone’s life.”

Hayley Probert, Bachelor of Education (Secondary Education) 

What skills can I learn with a humanities degree? 💬 

Studying for a humanities degree will teach you some of the most important skills you’ll ever learn – skills you can apply to the workplace but also skills that will make you a better world citizen. 

With a humanities degree, you’ll learn how to learn; how to separate fact from fiction; how to critically examine someone else’s viewpoint and treat it with empathy, and how to work through differences with others to achieve common goals. 

🧩 Problem-solving starts by asking the right question first 💡 

As a humanities graduate, you’ll expand your world view and leave university more thoughtful and compassionate, with the intellectual and emotional confidence to handle life’s challenges and setbacks. It’s a set of skills (and attitude, too) that might have been what Irish novelist Samuel Beckett had in mind when he, said: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” 

Australian film director and writer and Curtin screen arts graduate Zak Hilditch recently announced his fourth feature film, We Bury the Dead, starring one of Hollywood’s brightest stars Daisy Ridley. Zak says enrolling at Curtin to study film and TV was one of the best decisions he ever made. He says the overwhelming support from his lecturers and peers at Curtin created a safe space where likeminded creatives like him felt comfortable failing: 

“I knew I had to figure it out if I wanted to become a director one day, and going to Curtin was the first big step towards achieving that goal. From the first year, you start making films. My tutors and lecturers were really passionate about their craft and knew what they were talking about. My training and experience at Curtin allowed me to find my voice and set me up for the big bad world, so to speak. My Curtin bubble allowed me to take chances, explore different sides to humanity and discover my point of view and difference.” 

If you see yourself in a career where you can make a positive impact, by shaping cultural conversations, educating others or making inspiring art, a humanities degree could be a perfect fit. 

Curtin’s Anthropology and Sociology course encourages you to question socially normalised practices to better understand the systems and structures that govern our lives. Being able to critique these accepted ways of being is crucial to breaking structures of inequality and marginalisation.”

Claire Dodos, Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology and Sociology)

Seven creative careers to spark your imagination 👗 🎭 🎬 

Whether it’s working for Google Japan or starting a sustainable fashion company, our arts graduates are achieving extraordinary things. 

Bradley Pinkerton's designs for Harry Styles tour
Bradley Pinkerton’s designs for artist Harry Styles.

Bradley Pinkerton took part in Curtin’s 2014 “School of Block”, a dynamic workshop held at Block Branding’s industry studio. Renowned for his distinctive perspective and adept fusion of traditional collage with digital artistry, Bradley has established a formidable presence, particularly within the music realm, since relocating to Melbourne. His clientele include international luminaries like Shawn Mendes and Yungblud, and Grammy Award-winning artist Harry Styles. 🎤  

Curtin design graduate Brendan Seals.

Curtin multimedia design graduate Brendan Seals is a VFX Supervisor at world-renowned visual effects studio Luma Pictures. He’s worked on numerous blockbuster films, including Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange. Brendan and his team received the Best Visual Effects Award at the 2019 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards for his work on Spider-Man: Far From Home. 🎬 

Curtin PhD student Ashleigh Angus in Scotland
Curtin PhD graduate Ashleigh Angus in Scotland.

Curtin PhD graduate Dr Ashleigh Angus spent a year in Scotland researching Scottish literary history as part of her Honours in Creative Writing. Her project explored how Orcadian women accused of witchcraft may have constructed fairy legends to articulate their fears and desires. Studying in Scotland as part of Curtin’s alliance with the University of Aberdeen means that Ashleigh could access archives on witch trials and explore the rugged landscape where her narrative is based – which she said was essential to the completion of her creative work. 🧙‍♀️ 

Curtin fine arts graduate Abdul Abdullah with his oil on linen work, "Custodians".
Curtin arts graduate Abdul Abdullah with his oil-on-linen work, “Custodians”.

Six-time Archibald Prize finalist and Curtin arts graduate Abdul Abdullah is one of Australia’s most internationally sought-after contemporary artists. Identifying as a Muslim and with Malay, Indonesian and Australian convict and settler heritage, Abdul describes himself as an “outsider among outsiders”. Spanning painting, photography, video, installation and performance, his practice is concerned with the experience of the ‘other’ in society. He engages with different marginalised minority groups and is particularly interested in the experience of young Muslims in the contemporary multicultural Australian context. 🎨 

Fibre Economy founders: Molly Ryan (L) and Claudi Janse Van Rensburg (R) with business partner Shannon Itzstein.
Fibre Economy founders: Molly Ryan (L) and Claudi Janse Van Rensburg (R) with business partner Shannon Itzstein.

Curtin fashion students Molly Ryan and Claudi Janse Van Rensburg, together with friend Shannon Itzstein, established Fibre Economy – a social enterprise to redistribute second-hand workwear from mine sites to those who need them, reducing the environmental impact of the fashion industry. During their time at Curtin, Molly and Claudi completed internships at Redress, the world’s largest and most proactive organisation in sustainable fashion design, based in Hong Kong. Molly says the experience motivated them to establish Fibre Economy, where they sort the clothes and send the new and worn jeans to employment charities that help people transition into the workforce. 👖 

Curtin theatre student Crystal Nguyen.
Curtin theatre arts student Crystal Nguyen.

Curtin theatre arts student Crystal Nguyen starred in a modern rendition of Shakespeare’s Richard III, under the mentorship of celebrated Curtin graduate Kate Mulvany OAM. Written by Michael Law and titled Teenage Dick, the play explores disability representation and inclusion. For Crystal, working with Kate helped her find the human in the misunderstood character of Richard III. She says the mentorship left her in awe of Kate’s “artistry and integrity” and helped her discover new ways of taking ownership of her strengths as a disabled performer. 🎭 

Curtin creative arts graduates Gene Brutty and Tim Seddon.
Curtin arts graduates Gene Brutty and Tim Seddon.

Curtin creative advertising graduates Gene Brutty and Tim Seddon have worked around the globe with some of the world’s biggest names including Google, Apple, Toyota, Nike, Asics, Sony, HTC, Audi, Panasonic, Uniqlo, Shiseido, Coca Cola and more. They now own their own business, Imagine IF for brands looking to make an impact in Asia. 🌏 

I had an incredible lecturer at Curtin who taught me so much and helped me secure a three-month internship at The Brand Agency. While there, the digital agency upstairs, Longtail, started hiring for creatives. Tim and I were selected, paired up as a creative team – and the rest is history! We’re two very different people but we share the same work ethic and belief in what we do and what could work. We looked at other creative teams around the world and thought, what makes us any different to a junior team in Tokyo or New York? And we realised there was no difference. We had a strong self-belief that we were just as good, if not better. We immediately set ourselves the challenge of proving we could work on major projects for big brands on a global scale.”

Gene Brutty, Bachelor of Arts (Creative Advertising Design) 

✈️ How do I take my creative career global?  

If you’re interested in taking your skills overseas, Gene and Tim have the following tips:  

Upskill 🧠 

“If you’re interested in copywriting or art direction, consider learning skills in motion design, graphic design or coding. Companies are interested in hiring people with a diverse skillset. How do you apply copywriting through a digital experience? Or create interactive design? Diversify your skillset and increase your international employability.”  

Stay open-minded 🤝 

“Working in different cultures, it’s important to remain open-minded. You’ll need to overcome societal and cultural barriers but your career will be richer for it. Ensure you have a diverse range of interests to draw inspiration from. Those who are open and fluent in the way they think about creativity and how to apply their skills in different contexts will have the best chance of success.”  

Work outside the box 💡 

“What helped us get noticed on the global stage were not our day-to-day jobs but all the extra projects and experiments we did. Submit work to national and international advertising or design awards. They often have a category for junior creatives or students. This will help you get noticed by major agencies. Create a website and showcase your work. Don’t just sit around and wait, go after what you want.”  

🌟  What can I expect from a Curtin humanities degree?

Whether your talents lie in the written word, fashion design, performance, languages, architecture, or teaching, at Curtin University you’ll learn in incredible facilities that teach you real-world skills. 

You’ll meet people who share your passions and talent, learn from industry experts and experience what it’s like to work in your dream field.  

Take a sneak peek at these inspirational Curtin learning spaces: 

Having migrated from Spain, I’ve always been attracted to other languages and cultures. Doing international relations at Curtin, that’s exactly what I got. I was exposed to a variety of disciplines like history, terrorism and anthropology, for example, which gave me a really good toolkit to work with in international development with the United Nations – later on in intelligence, and right now in international policy.”

Laura G, Bachelor of Arts (International Relations) 

🌱 Making the most of your humanities degree at Curtin  

At Curtin, you can take advantage of a wide range of opportunities to extend your personal and professional skillset. Whether it’s directing plays, mentoring others or challenging yourself with our five-day “Creative Jam”, our Curtin Extra programs offer you the chance to build your skills and forge connections with people who share your passions. We also offer a range of specialisations, scholarships, internships and exciting global experiences

Interior Architecture student Zoe Thomas completed a Planet Positive Specialisation to learn how to help combat climate change in her career. She also gained a New Columbo Plan Scholarship for a study trip to Singapore. 

She says: “Electives such as Planning Graphics and Design, in addition to the Sustainability Challenge and Start-Up Business Planning, have given me new aspirations for my future career. This included learning about sustainability in practice and how my interior design background can enable me to move into the planning, architecture and design realms.” 

Hear from Curtin fashion design student Samantha who took part in our Sustainability Challenge, an immersive experience where Curtin students worked directly with industry to address real-world sustainability challenges. 

💥 Ready to take the next step? 🚀 

If you’ve always dreamed of a career that combines your passions, ambition and desire to make a difference, discover Curtin’s wide range of humanities degrees.  

If you want to talk through your options, we’re here to help! You can call us during business hours on 1300 222 888 or ask us your question online and we’ll get back to you soon.  


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