MSc Global Challenges

Why study Global Challenges?

Study while you work, anywhere in the world, with our timely Masters degree programme in Global Challenges. Find out how it works and how it will benefit your career.

Healthy life is an outcome of sustainable development, as well as a powerful and undervalued means of achieving it. We need to see health both as a precious asset in itself, and as a means of stimulating economic growth and reducing poverty.

Dr Gro Harlem BrundtlandDirector-General Emeritus, WHO (2002)

Sustainable development is “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”

Brundtland definition, World Commission on Environment and Development (1987)


What is the MSc Global Challenges?

We live in an increasingly complex, often contradictory, fast changing world:

  • we have experienced unprecedented economic growth but inequality grows between and within nations
  • we know more than ever about the natural environment, yet we may be on the cusp of irreversible changes caused by human activity
  • more people than ever before are living longer, healthier lives, while billions suffer from hunger, malnutrition and disease

Climate change, natural disasters, political instability, conflict and wars, mixed in with overpopulation, poverty and underinvestment in low-income countries are leading to a range of challenges on a scale and at a frequency not experienced before. Challenges of migrating and vulnerable populations, emerging and re-emerging diseases, humanitarian crises and unprecedented urban development need a multidisciplinary approach with sustainability at the heart of it. With 7 billion people on earth, and rising, how can we all live well without compromising the life support systems of our planet?

Our programme is a collaboration between the University's Global Academies - global networks of experts from over 25 academic disciplines developing innovative solutions for the world's most challenging problems. The Global Development Academy, the Global Environment and Society Academy and the Global Health Academy supported by the Global Justice Academy provide a step change in the way the University is able to build multi-disciplinary responses to these complex global issues. This programme is part of the University's commitment to offer world leading interdisciplinary postgraduate degrees that equip future leaders to tackle global challenges and contribute to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Why should you apply?

This unique and cutting edge programme will enable you to tackle these global problems in a multidisciplinary way and equip you to address causes, consider preventative approaches, and implement suitable responses.

Taught entirely online, this part-time programme is specifically designed so you can study while you work. Whether you’re already working in a related field and looking to broaden your expertise, or seeking to move into a new area of work, we provide opportunities to not only bring your experience into your studies, but also to apply your new insights and skills to your work while you study.

Hear more from our previous Programme Director and students of the MSc Global Challenges, and one of its component programmes the PGCert Global Environment Challenges, in our YouTube video:

"It was a real eye opener to learn about the ways the multidisciplinary approach is being used to tackle these big issues."

"The programme really helped me look at my NGO work from a more historical perspective, and made me question why we were needed in the area we work in in the first place."

What skills and knowledge will you gain?

group of people in a meeting

Our expertise in research, policy and practice across a wide range of disciplines will help you to develop the broad perspective, in-depth knowledge, and professional skills needed to enhance your career as you work for a more equitable and just world.

You will gain crucial understanding at global, national and local levels of how development, health and environmental issues are connected. This in turn will help your career developing enduring solutions while minimising unintended consequences.

"The programme helped me towards program design and civic engagement for the Civil Society Organisation coalition I support in the emerging State of South Sudan."

"I really enjoyed the courses. It's so interesting to practice development during the day at my job and then read about it in the mornings and evenings for school. It's exactly the balance I was looking for."

Who should apply?

woman talking

This programme is designed for those interested in following a career in international development, environmental and/or global or national health work in government and non-governmental organisations and also for those who intend undertaking research in these disciplines. It will provide a broad background for local, country or international level careers in policy, planning and management.

What career opportunities are there?

Using their skills and knowledge acquired through the MSc Global Challenges, graduates will be able to pursue careers in:

  • Consultancy
  • NGOs and charities
  • International development
  • Corporate managerial positions in environmental and social governance
  • Ministry of health policy, strategy and managerial positions
people at conference

Graduates from this programme will be uniquely equipped to advise and guide on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The goals emphasise the need for a coherent connection across many challenges and this programme will give you the language, and knowledge to understand the complexity of the challenges and to look at innovative solutions and approaches.

See the flexibility in our programme structure and what subjects you’ll be studying

Related Links

Read more about the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals

Further information on the University of Edinburgh's Global Academies