Kelly Midgley : Schools of Humanities, Social Sciences and Music : The University of Western Australia

Schools of Humanities, Social Sciences and Music

Kelly Midgley

Kelly Midgely

Kelly Midgley, MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies

The Intrinsic Value of an Arts Degree

I recently celebrated my graduation from UWA.  The ceremony marked the conclusion of five extraordinarily happy years at the University.

Students of the Arts and Humanities are all too often asked what we will do with our degrees, or why we are studying so-called “soft subjects” when we could be doing something that would lead us directly to a high-paying career.  My own experience will hopefully provide some encouragement to those still unsure of what they can do with their hard-earned Arts degrees. 

I started at UWA straight out of high school, not really knowing what I wanted to do.  I had contemplated doing Law, but decided that since the Bachelor of Law was being phased out in favour of the postgraduate Juris Doctor, it would be better to do a general degree first.  For me, Arts was the natural choice because I knew that I could spend three years studying things that interested me, before getting that Law degree!

However, instead of going on to Law, I decided to spend two postgraduate years immersed in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, after getting so much out of the undergraduate major. It was honestly the best decision I have ever made.  I got to study topics ranging from the Wars of the Roses, to Renaissance France, to Jacobean revenge-tragedies, to – my personal favourite – fornicating apes in the margins of illuminated fourteenth-century psalters!

After that, when I felt like a hiatus from study, I applied for and was subsequently offered a prestigious graduate job with the Department of Finance in Canberra, despite having never done economics or accounting in my life! I initially worked on their Immigration portfolio and am now working on the Social Service portfolio, developing policies and working out what they will cost.

The world absolutely needs people who can think laterally, operate across disciplines, and adjust quickly to new challenges – and one of the greatest gifts of an Arts education is that it is interdisciplinary, and can equip us for just about any problem the world can throw at us.  


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Last updated:
Tuesday, 25 October, 2016 4:34 PM