Postgraduate study

Korean Studies MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Korean Studies

Why study Korea?

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.

Take a Korean Studies pathway through East Asian Studies

We are replacing our individual Master's programme in Korean Studies with a new MSc in East Asian Studies.

The new programme has been structured to give you the freedom to design your own postgraduate coursework and research. It is possible to choose courses focusing solely on Korea and Korean Studies and graduate with an:

  • MSc in East Asian Studies with Korean Studies

Alternatively, you may wish to use this opportunity to start learning about another country in East Asia, either on its own or in comparison. Our thriving Asian Studies department also has expertise in Japanese and Chinese Studies.

You can indicate when you apply which pathway suits you best and we will confirm your choice when you have joined the programme and selected your courses.

Our new MSc in East Asian Studies is coming soon. It will be available for 2024 entry.

We are replacing our individual Master's programme in Korean Studies with a new MSc in East Asian Studies. This new MSc is coming soon. It will be available for 2024 entry.

You can take the MSc in East Asian Studies over one year, full-time, or two years, part-time.

By the end of the programme, you will have completed courses totalling 180 credits.

All students take our course on ‘Doing Research on East Asia: Key Concepts, Approaches and Issues’. This is worth 20 credits.

You will then choose four optional courses, each worth 20 credits. You will select these from a wide range of courses relating to specialised regional and disciplinary knowledge.

Typical Korean Studies courses include:

  • Global Cities: Seoul in Comparative Perspective
  • Korean History, Culture and Society
  • Korean Politics and International Relations
  • Political Economy of Korea's Development: Globalisation and Inequality
  • Unwritten Korea: Understanding Korean society and culture through contemporary arts and films

The final element of the programme is your dissertation. This is a piece of independent research - 15,000 words (worth 60 credits) - written with the advice and support of a designated supervisor.

We are replacing our individual masters programme in Korean Studies with a new MSc in East Asian Studies. This new MSc is coming soon. It will be available for 2024 entry.

On completion of our new programme, you will have gained the skills to:

  • articulate and describe major events, actors, and issues impacting East Asia and/or individual countries in the region
  • critically discuss and utilise theoretical and conceptual tools for understanding the region, individual countries, and/or issues relevant to both
  • explain and critique the scholarship in your chosen subject area
  • select and utilise appropriate sources to support your arguments and research
  • apply knowledge and skills to conduct independent research

East Asia is widely perceived to be the focus of future global politics, with tensions between North Korea and the US, for example, dominating headlines worldwide.

Giving you a thorough grasp of historical and contemporary factors, our new programme is designed to equip you with the knowledge to critically engage with these developments, either as they relate to one particular country or in comparison.

You will acquire the tools to analyse, understand and articulate the complexities of East Asia and its constituent countries in a global context, and in career-ready ways.

Your skills will give you an advantage in a range of careers across the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, including in:

  • diplomacy, negotiation and international relations
  • politics, policy work, civil service and law
  • journalism, broadcasting and media
  • business, finance and commerce
  • communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
  • education, outreach, advocacy and training
  • leisure, tourism and travel
  • publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
  • research and development

The enhanced research skills you will develop through training, coursework and your dissertation are a valuable asset if you wish to continue on to PhD study.

We typically offer both a Masters by Research and a PhD in Korean Studies.

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, in a relevant discipline.

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 6.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 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 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 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 three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Featured funding

For entry in September 2024, we have scholarships for up to four students covering up to £3,000 of tuition fees in the first year of study – home and international/EU rates.

These scholarships have been made possible by the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS).

You do not need to apply for a scholarship – all eligible candidates who apply for the Korean Studies pathway of our new MSc in East Asian Studies will be considered and contacted if successful. This new MSc is coming soon. It will be available for 2024 entry.

We will also make prospective applicants and enrolled students aware of other available funding opportunities as they arise.

Typically, these include scholarship options from the Korea Foundation, SK Foundation, Asan 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
  • your tuition fee 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

If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

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