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Course content

The MSc in International Development programme offers students an unparalleled opportunity to deepen their understanding and engagement with the most pressing challenges confronting people, communities and institutions in the Global South. What are the processes that have shaped poverty and inequality across the world – as well as the responses to them? How do they differ across international, national, and local contexts? This programme builds and strengthens critical skills for analysing these development processes and inequities, exploring development issues in a range of different social, historical and political contexts. It aims to provide you with a rigorous multi-disciplinary grounding in major debates, theories and critical concepts as well as proficiency in applying these to investigate contemporary development challenges, policy processes, and initiatives.

Our students are part of a vibrant and growing online distance education community at our prestigious School of Social and Political Science and the College for Humanities and Social Sciences. Through our innovative platform and learning activities, they forge meaningful relationships with their peers and a range of academic colleagues linking them to other relevant online distance learning programmes, such as the MSc Global Challenges (ODL), MSc in Global Health Policy (ODL) and cognate programmes such as the MSc in Social Justice and Community Organising (ODL) in Moray House of Education.

Online learning

The MSc International Development is part of our growing portfolio of online learning programmes.

Recognising the need for flexibility our online programmes are an excellent way for those with professional or family commitments to gain a further qualification with minimum interruption, or to introduce students to a virtual learning environment.

Our award-winning online learning technology is fully interactive, enabling you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace. You will learn through a mix of online methods, including video lectures, study guides, self-directed and guided reading, and a range of interactive online reflection and discussion activities. You will be part of a vibrant and supportive virtual community.

Our online students not only have access to Edinburgh’s excellent resources, but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

Programme structure

The MSc International Development is a part-time online distance learning programme which can be pursued over two or three years. All courses are taught through a combination of independent study and online group activities, allowing you to continue your life and career uninterrupted whilst returning to university study.

There are three core courses – Politics and Theories of International Development, Analysing Development, and Global Development Challenges – which equip students with a solid grasp of the key theories, issues, and actors of International Development, providing an optimum balance between policy and academic approaches.

You then further your interests in specific areas of international development, such as mobility and migration, monitoring and project design, the environment, or global health through your optional course choices. New optional courses, based on successful on-campus courses, will be added

Research training is provided via a core course in Researching International Development, which introduces you to cutting-edge innovations in the field whilst preparing your for your dissertation – be it a research or applied project. You will discuss dissertation plans with tutors and the Programme Director in Collaborate seminars and in weekly guidance and feedback sessions. You will also have your own dissertation supervisor.

You will also be mentored by a Personal Tutor — a member of our teaching staff who provides academic guidance and pastoral support.

Career opportunities

With a solid background in international development study and practice, our graduates pursue current and future careers in a range of institutions including United Nations agencies, charities, non-governmental organizations, government ministries, and the private sector, as well as in research institutions and journalism.


Visit the International Development (Online Distance Learning) - MSc/PgDip page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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