Moray House School of Education and Sport

Programme structure

The MSc in Social Justice and Community Action is a part-time and fully online masters programme.

An introduction to the MSc Social Justice and Community Action

Video: MSc Social Justice and Community Action video
An introduction to the MSc Social Justice and Community Action programme from the programme director Dr Callum McGregor

Our life chances are shaped by our family and community relationships, access to good quality public services, the particular features of our governing institutions and levels of economic inequality. That life chances are unequally distributed across the globe, and within particular countries, is an injustice. For example, in 2017, eighty-two percent of the global wealth generated went to the richest one percent of the global population1. Even in a wealthy nation like the United Kingdom, it has been estimated that the top one percent have fifty-three percent of the country’s personal tradable wealth, whilst the bottom half has a mere six percent2. Despite such manifest inequality, there is little consensus about what actions individuals, communities and nation states should take to address these injustices. Moreover, social justice itself is a dynamic and contested concept, concerned with distribution, cultural recognition and the quality of democratic participation3.

The goal of this unique interdisciplinary programme is to challenge and support you to connect ideas of liberty, equality, citizenship and democracy to real-world practice in diverse contexts, including grassroots activism, education, public policy development, and organisational management. The programme draws on perspectives from critical education, politics, social policy and sociology. 

The digital medium of this online degree facilitates flexible, high-quality, critical and collaborative learning in a supportive digital community. You will be studying courses designed in an institute renowned internationally for its expertise in digital education.

Programme Structure

The MSc Social Justice and Community Action is a part-time and fully online masters programme designed to equip you with the knowledge and practical skills to help you make positive social change.

You can study towards a Postgraduate Certificate over 1-2 years, a Postgraduate Diploma over 2-4 years, or complete the full Masters (MSc) programme over 2-6 years. 

We recommend that you study for a Postgraduate Certificate over 12 months, a Postgraduate Diploma over 24 months, or the full Masters (MSc) programme over 36 months. However, the flexibility of this programme means you can study at a pace that suits you best.


Postgraduate Certificate

Students must complete 60 credits to be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate. Of these, 40 credits must be obtained by completing the courses below.

Course title (semester) Credits
Theories and Politics of Social Justice (Semester 1) 20
Community Engagement: Co-Constructing Knowledge with Communities (Semester 2) 20

The remaining 20 credits can be obtained by completing optional courses.  Option courses change every year but have previously included the following. 

Course title (semester) Credits
Organisational Management for Social Justice (Semester 1) 20
Working with Children and Young People for Social Justice (Semester 2) 20
Policy Analysis for Social Justice (Semester 2) 20
Learning for Democracy (Semester 2) 20

Postgraduate Diploma

To exit with a Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits), in addition to completing the Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits), an additional 60 credits must be obtained by completing three optional courses. Option courses change every year but have previously included the following.

Course title (semester) Credits
Activist Social Research** (Semester 1) 20
Displacement and Development (Semester 1)* 20
Key Skills in Development Practice (Semester 2)* 20
Analysing Development (Semester 2)* 20
Climate Change Mitigation (Semester 2) 20
Digital Education in a Global Context (Semester 2)* 20
Global Development Challenges (Semester 1)* 20
Global Health Governance (Flexible)* 20

Health Inequities and the Social Determinants of Health (Semester 2)*


Politics and Theories of International Development (Semester 1)*


Roots of African Poverty and Development (Semester 1)*

Public Health and Health Policy (Semester 1)* 20
Any relevant Level 11 university online distance education course, subject to the approval of the Programme Director and relevant Course Organiser * 20

* If you are study part-time intermittent, optional courses offered in other Schools may have different fees.  * denotes courses offered in other Schools. 

**Students wishing to progress to the dissertation must select Activist Social Research as one of the three courses. 


Course Descriptions (2023-24)

Masters (MSc)

Students are required to complete a dissertation or an applied research project to be awarded the MSc (180 credits). In order to progress to the dissertation stage of the Master's programme, students must pass all taught courses for the Certificate and Diploma in line with the University’s postgraduate teaching regulations.

For Masters Credits
Dissertation or Applied Research Project 60

Dissertation and the Applied Research Project

Depending on your interests and career goals, you will have a choice in selecting either a standard masters dissertation or an applied research project if you choose to pursue the full MSc.


The dissertation is a major piece of research that demands significant time and commitment from the student. Through the dissertation, the student has the opportunity to identify a research topic, develop and implement a logical fieldwork plan for gathering data and undertake systematic analysis and write-up of the data. Students will be supported through this process through both the Activist Social Research course and individual meetings with a designated supervisor.

Applied Research Project

As an alternative to the standard Master's dissertation, the Applied Research Project is a significant piece of work that allows students to undertake real-world research directly applicable to the aims, interests and needs of a particular activist network, community group or organisation. The Applied Research Project can also be approached as a substantive investigation and analysis of an important policy development and/or practice issue.

The Applied Research Project will be underpinned by logical theorisations, conceptualisations and evidence and should include:

  • a significant and critical discussion of the relevant context
  • a rigorous and substantive analysis of the identified issue or problem
  • a creative approach for addressing the identified issue.

Students will be supported through this process through both the Activist Social Research course and individual meetings with a designated supervisor.

Time commitment

For each 20-credit course, you can expect 24 hours of lecturer contact time. Each course requires a time commitment from you of approximately 15-17 hours a week. This commitment is likely to increase around the time of assignment completion.

Global Justice Academy

This programme is the flagship teaching initiative of the University of Edinburgh’s Global Justice Academy, a multi-disciplinary network of academics and research centres committed to global justice concerns.

Global Justice Academy

Oxfam (2017) Richest 1% bagged 82 percent of wealth created last year—poorest half of humanity got nothing  (Accessed 17th Sept 2018)

Dorling, D. (2015) Inequality and the 1%. London: Verso

Fraser, N. (2005) Reframing justice in a globalising world. New Left Review, 36, pp. 69-88