Postgraduate study

Korean Studies PhD, MScR

Awards: PhD, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Placements/internships

Programme website: Korean Studies

The Korean peninsula lies at the centre of landmark geopolitical developments in the early 21st century. North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and tensions between the two Koreas serve as stark reminders of the fragility of regional and global orders. South Korea has become a major global economic player and an important actor in development assistance. Additionally, Korean culture (including pop culture) has surged to global popularity over the past decade and exported across the globe. Understanding Korean culture, history, current political and economic developments, and international relations is therefore crucial to make sense of key processes in global security, economics, and politics in Asia and beyond.

The MSc by Research in Korean Studies is designed to equip you with the knowledge and skills to critically engage with these developments through recognised Masters-level training in both Korean Studies and East Asian Studies with a focus on history, society, the economy, urban studies, public policy, political science, and international relations. Additionally, the programme equips you with the methodological skills required to carry out independent research.

You will receive introductory training in both quantitative and qualitative methods, with the opportunity to receive additional, more advanced training. This methodological focus, combined with strong country and regional expertise and a multi-disciplinary training will be of particular interest to you if you are considering this postgraduate degree as a pathway to further research degrees.

The unique combination of Korean, East Asian and disciplinary expertise will enable you to acquire both in-depth knowledge about the Korean peninsula and the analytical skills to make connections between the Korean experience and other countries in the East Asian region and beyond.

The MSc by Research programme will introduce a variety of innovative assignments to draw on your interests and talents. The various assignments include video-essays, podcasts, blogs, Wikipedia entries, policy briefs and reviewing articles or editorials.

During the induction week, you will have various seminar and workshops where you will be familiarised with new assignments and their requirements. Active participation among students and between students and instructors will be encouraged not only in the traditional classroom format but also online through collective lecture note taking and in group forum on Learn.

For the MSc by Research programme, students will complete the following courses:

  • Research Skills and Methods for Asian Studies 1 (20 credits)
  • Research Skills and Methods for Asian Studies 2 (20 credits)
  • Supervised Research in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures 1 (40 credits)
  • Supervised Research in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures 2 (40 credits)
  • MSc by Research in Korean Studies Dissertation (60 credits)

PhD Students:* Although not mandatory, you will be encouraged to take on an internship in either the UK or South Korea. Potential partners ma include the East Asia Institute, Asan Institute for Policy Studies, Seoul National University Asia Centre and the Yun Posun Democracy institute in South Korea.

*(Revised 29 May 2019 to clarify section only applies to PhD students.)

You will acquire an interdisciplinary understanding of the major issues in Korean society, politics, culture, economy and international relations, and history and will be able to relate those to broader social, political and economic trends in the East Asian region and globally. Drawing on different analytical and methodological tools, you will be able to engage various disciplinary and theoretical perspectives and apply concepts to empirical cases.

You will gain the necessary knowledge and skills to analyse, compare and assess competing claims and make informed judgements about them. You will additionally gain transferable skills, including analysis presentation, communication, the use of new technologies in a learning environment, and team work. Such knowledge and skills will be valuable assets on the job market.

Having acquired the tools to analyse and understand the complexities of the two Koreas and East Asian relations in a global context, you could progress to a doctoral degree (2nd Year) or apply your skills in professional areas, such as diplomacy, national and international organisations, and research institutions. If you choose to pursue a career in an alternative field, you will find the skills you gain in research, communication, presentation and analysis will give you an edge in the competitive employment marketplace.

MScR: A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a related subject.

PhD: A UK 2:1 honours degree and a masters degree, or their international equivalents, in a related subject. We may also consider your application if you have equivalent qualifications or experience; please check with your potential supervisor before you apply.*

(*Revised 3 July 2019 to correct an error in the published requirements for PhD applicants.)

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Featured funding

We will make prospective applicants and enrolled students aware of funding opportunities that are available for this programme. At present these include scholarship options from the Korea Foundation, the Academy of Korean Studies, SK Foundation, Asian Foundation and the Samsung Foundation.

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH