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What’s special about the Humanities?

Humanities covers a range of subjects including history and archaeology. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Humanities covers a range of subjects including history and archaeology. Photo: K.R. Deepak  

The Humanities stream is increasingly finding more takers now. Let’s look at what it offers.

In the past, for a long time, no one really planned a career in the humanities nor prepared hard to get into a reputed institution to study Humanities. Most of them just stumbled upon it or landed up in such courses by sheer elimination of other options. Today, the entire scenario has changed and many students specifically choose the humanities stream in Class XI & XII and are keen to explore it further. There are also those who typically join the Science or Commerce stream, and towards the end of their schooling, decide that they are passionate about pursuing a degree in the humanities.

What is the humanities stream all about? It encompasses the study of diverse subjects falling under arts, languages and research techniques. Thus, a degree in the humanities will entail studying subjects such as history, political science, philosophy, economics, literature, performing arts and similar subjects.

More often than not, a degree or a postgraduate programme in the humanities serves as a platform to “discover” a student’s innate yearning for a particular branch of study, say, Creative Writing or Health Economics. These UG and PG programmes in Humanities are neither narrow in scope nor limited in opportunities; rather, they offer a wide and expansive scope for research and higher studies in a range of subjects.

Career options

The humanities is an emerging field in India, and one of the fastest growing, too. However, students are sometimes hesitant to apply to a programme as they are not quite aware of what lies ahead after completion of a five-year integrated programme. Here are some pointers.

Civil Services: A five-year MA programme offers a perfect platform for those inclined towards a career in the Indian Administration Services (IAS). Wide exposure to subjects such as economics, logic, law, mathematics and statistics, English gives them an edge in the CSAT examination leading to IAS.

Journalism: As the curriculum of most Humanities programmes involve the study of English at a higher level, exposure to creative writing coupled with opportunities to edit newsletters and journals help students to spot their journalistic leanings and kindle their enthusiasm to pursue a career in journalism.

Banking and related sectors: Students who like subjects such as statistics, risk analysis, management and economics can seek careers in economic policy formulation and research, especially in RBI, NABARD, IRDA and research institutions.

International organisations: Opportunities are plenty for those who graduate with specialisation in Developmental Studies in organisations such as UNICEF, UNDP, Amnesty International, and so on, as project heads, programme directors for their varied projects undertaken in India and abroad.

NGOs: The role played by NGOs world over towards uplifting the quality of lives of the lower income groups and disadvantaged sections of society in many developing nations is widely recognised today and has thrown open a vast array of work opportunities for those with a specialisation in development studies.

Consultancy firms: Top consultancy firms such as Mckenzie, Price Water Coopers, Frost & Sullivan and Goldman Sachs are perpetually on a lookout for dynamic, young postgraduates with a strong economics and research background for various openings in their organisations. High salaries and a challenging work environment are the hallmarks of this career.

Higher studies: With an excellent grounding in multi-disciplinary subjects, students emerging from this course find it easy to choose their specialisation and also the best university across the globe for doing a doctorate programme.

Some institutes where one can study humanities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels are — IIT Madras, TATA Institute of Social Sciences, English and Foreign Languages University, Azim Premji University, and University of Hyderabad.

Special focus

If one wants to pursue a specialised course, the department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Madras has a five-year programme titled ‘Integrated M.A in Humanities.’ This course, which can be taken up after Class XII, has opened up vistas for students broadly interested in the humanities, but are unsure of the particular subject they are interested in pursuing as a career. This course is multi-disciplinary with a number of electives and offers two major specialisations —English and Developmental Studies. It has become popular with students as they get to choose their electives and freely explore subjects. The programme involves studying a couple of foreign languages and opportunities to sharpen their research and mathematical skills.

Students who are interested in pursuing this M.A. programme have to write an online entrance test (Humanities and Social Sciences Entrance Examination) conducted by IIT Madras in April. Admissions to the course are based on the results of this test. This admission test comprises MCQ questions on English, elementary mathematics and analytical reasoning, general knowledge which includes economics, history and society, environment and ecology and contemporary world affairs. The entrance test also includes an essay on a general topic. This year, the HSEE-2016 examination will be conducted on April 17.

The writer is a trainer at Sriram Law Academy, Chennai

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 11:39:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/education/What%E2%80%99s-special-about-the-Humanities/article14177970.ece

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