Postgraduate study

International Development MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: International Development

This programme engages critically with international development thinking and practice, and more broadly with processes of social, political and economic transformation throughout the global south.

This programme is designed to suit the needs of both recent graduates of various disciplines, and professionals with two to five, or more, years’ experience who want to shift careers, upgrade their academic qualifications, or take a year out to reflect critically on their work.

Although most students will move on after one year to development-related jobs, some may use the programme as a pathway into our PhD in International Development:

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Development Academy.

You will complete a total of six courses over two semesters stretching from September to April.

Two are compulsory, one on the historical evolution and paradigm shifts in politics and theories of development, the other on contemporary issues and institutions of relevance to development policy and practice.

The other four courses are options. These may be chosen from across the University, drawing on the expertise of faculty members within political and social science and beyond, including business, law and geosciences.

From May to August students complete either a work-based project or a standard research dissertation.

Work-based project

We realise the importance of offering practical experiences to complement our critical and historical approaches in the classroom. An integral part of the programme – and one of our advantages compared to other masters programmes in international development – are work-based projects.

These 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.

Research dissertation

Alternatively, you may wish to explore an academic issue or theme in greater depth by choosing to complete a research dissertation based on fieldwork and/or print and library sources.

By the end of the programme students will be able to:

  • critically evaluate the factors shaping particular development processes and their outcomes
  • appropriately apply theories and insights from scholarly research to practical issues and problems of development policy and practice
  • choose and apply the most appropriate research methods to a particular development policy problem or case
  • analyse policy documents and reports

This programme provides multidisciplinary training and perspectives on development theory, policy and practice that is aimed to equip graduates for careers in public sector and non-governmental development agencies, consultancy and private business.

The opportunity to apply your academic training to real-world problems and acquire hands-on work experience through the work-based projects will give you an edge in the employment market whatever your eventual career.

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

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 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 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:

Application fee

A non-refundable application fee of £50 must be paid after you submit your application. Your application will not be processed until we have received your application fee.

Tuition fees

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:

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make offers to the most outstanding candidates at the end of each round, with other competitive applicants being placed on a waiting list. The deadlines and response dates are as follows:

Round Deadline Response By
1 1st November 2018 15th November 2018
2 1st December 2018 15th December 2018
3 15th January 2019 1st February 2019
4 15th February 2019 1st March 2019
5 15th March 2019 1st April 2019
6 15th April 2019 1st May 2019
7 15th May 2019 1st June 2019
8 15th June 2019 1st July 2019

Successful applicants must accept their offer within 28 days of the response date in order to secure their place on the programme. As this programme is highly competitive, any applicants who have not responded within this time will lose their offer, and offers will be made to applicants on the waiting list as places become available.

Application fee

A non-refundable application fee of £50 must be paid after you submit your application. Your application will not be processed until we have received your application fee.

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

Further information

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD