Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

International Development (Online Learning) MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Part-time

Online learning

Funding opportunities

The MSc in International Development programme offers you an unparalleled opportunity to deepen your 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?

How will I learn?

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 is multidisciplinary in nature and it aims to provide you with a rigorous grounding in major debates, theories and critical concepts as well as proficiency in applying these to investigate contemporary development challenges, policy processes, and initiatives.

Online community

Our students are part of a vibrant and growing online 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, you will forge meaningful relationships with your peers and a range of academic colleagues linking you to other relevant online programmes, such as:

  • MSc Global Challenges

    You will also engage with related programmes such as:

  • MSc in Social Justice and Community Organising, in Moray House School of Education and Sport

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
  • a range of interactive online reflection and discussion activities

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

Studying online at Edinburgh

Find out more about the benefits and practicalities of studying for an online degree:

The MSc International Development is a part-time online learning programme which can be pursued over two or three years.

All courses are taught through a combination of:

  • independent study
  • online group activities

This will allow you to continue your life and career uninterrupted whilst returning to university study.

Core courses

There are four core courses:

  • Politics and Theories of International Development
  • Analysing Development
  • Global Development Challenges
  • Researching International Development

The first three core courses will equip you with a solid grasp of the key theories, issues, and actors of International Development, providing an optimum balance between policy and academic approaches.

Option courses

You will then further your interests in specific areas of international development. Option courses change year-on-year and may be chosen from across the University, drawing on the expertise of a wide range of faculty members in other Schools.

Courses may cover issues of:

  • migration and displacement
  • global health
  • key tools and methods for applied development
  • dynamics of development in Africa
  • many more topics

Research training

Research training is provided via a core course:

  • Researching International Development

This introduces you to relevant research skills whilst preparing your for your dissertation – be it a research or applied project.


In your final year, you will complete a standard research dissertation or either a placement-based project. This will be under the supervision of an academic member of staff.

Placements 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.

Online learning

Read more about the benefits of studying online on our online learning web page.

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 organisations
  • government ministries
  • private sector
  • research institutions (including further study)
  • journalism

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

Entrance to this programme is strongly competitive. You can increase your chances of a successful application by exceeding the minimum programme requirements. Please review the important points to note on the programme website:

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

English language tests

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

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

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, Trinity ISE or PTE, 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 (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Mastercard Foundation Postgraduate Scholarships

Scholarships are available for the International Development online taught programme. The postgraduate study scholarships for the 2024/25 academic year will accept applications from 23rd October 2023 at 10:00 AM until 7th December 2023 at 5:00 PM (UK Time). Applicants must be residents and citizens or hold refugee status in a Sub-Saharan African country.

For more information and how to apply, visit the website:

Please note: If the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is the only scholarship you are interested in applying for at the University of Edinburgh, please apply for the Mastercard Foundation scholarship only first. If you receive a scholarship offer from the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, then you can apply for the academic programme.

(Revised 19 October 2023 to include information about the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program)

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
  • your residency status.

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD

If you are also applying for funding then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

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

Further information

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD