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    School of Social and Political Science Logo
  • Study Type

    Full time & Part time available

  • Subject Areas

    Politics & Government

  • Start Date

    September

  • Course Duration

    1 year full-time or 2 years part-time

  • Course Type

    MSc

  • Course Fees

    Tuition fees vary between degree programmes. Find the specific fees for your chosen programme on our website.

  • Last Updated

    01 October 2019

Programme description

This programme engages critically with international development thinking and practice, and more broadly with processes of social, political and economic transformation throughout the global south.

This programme is designed to suit the needs of both recent graduates of various disciplines, and professionals with two to five, or more, years’ experience who want to shift careers, upgrade their academic qualifications, or take a year out to reflect critically on their work.

Although most students will move on after one year to development-related jobs, some may use the programme as a pathway into our PhD in International Development:

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Development Academy.

Programme structure

You will complete a total of six courses over two semesters stretching from September to April.

Three courses are compulsory and three are optional. Options may be chosen from across the University, drawing on the expertise of faculty members within political and social science and beyond, including business, law and geosciences.

We also run a compulsory non-credit course that aims to sharpen research and analytical skills needed for postgraduate students in international development to embark on their summer dissertation research projects.

From May to August students complete either a work-based project or a standard research dissertation.

Work-based project

We realise the importance of offering practical experiences to complement our critical and historical approaches in the classroom. An integral part of the programme – and one of our advantages compared to other masters programmes in international development – are work-based projects.

These consist of eight weeks of on-location research with a host organisation in Africa, South and South East Asia, the Middle East, Latin America as well as in the UK. Our extensive network of partners includes NGOs, charities, social enterprise, think-tanks and government bodies.

Research dissertation

Alternatively, you may wish to explore an academic issue or theme in greater depth by choosing to complete a research dissertation based on fieldwork and/or print and library sources.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the programme students will be able to:

  • critically evaluate the factors shaping particular development processes and their outcomes
  • appropriately apply theories and insights from scholarly research to practical issues and problems of development policy and practice
  • choose and apply the most appropriate research methods to a particular development policy problem or case
  • analyse policy documents and reports

Career opportunities

This programme provides multidisciplinary training and perspectives on development theory, policy and practice that is aimed to equip graduates for careers in public sector and non-governmental development agencies, consultancy and private business.

The opportunity to apply your academic training to real-world problems and acquire hands-on work experience through the work-based projects will give you an edge in the employment market whatever your eventual career.


Visit the International Development (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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