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 around the world, with a specific focus on the low- and middle-income countries.

Who this programme is for

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.

Three courses are compulsory and three are optional. Options 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.

We also run a compulsory non-credit course that aims to sharpen research and analytical skills needed for postgraduate students in international development to embark on their summer dissertation research projects.

From May to August , you will 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.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2020/21
MSc2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2020/21

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

  • critically evaluate the factors shaping 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

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 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.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Application fee

This programme requires a non-refundable application fee.

  • £50

Your application will not be processed until we have received your application fee.

Living costs

You will be responsible for covering living costs for the duration of your studies.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MSc2 YearsPart-timeTuition 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
  • your tuition fee 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
Programme start date Application deadline
13 September 2021 14 June 2021

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines.

We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis.

However, we will hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants.

Applicants are selected through a competitive process. Please ensure that you have submitted all supporting documentation and paid the application fee before the deadline for the round you wish to be considered in.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2021-2022:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 2 November 2020 20 November 2020*
2 23 November 2020 11 December 2020
3 11 January 2021 12 February 2021
4 15 February 2021 12 March 2021
5 15 March 2021 9 April 2021
6 19 April 2021 7 May 2021
7 17 May 2021 4 June 2021
8 14 June 2021 9 July 2021

Supporting documents

Please ensure that you have submitted all supporting documentation before applying.

Application fee

You must have paid the application fee before the deadline for the round you wish to be considered in.

*(Revised 8 October 2020 to change first 'places awarded by' date from 13 November to 20 November.)

References are not usually required for applications to this programme.

Application fee

This programme requires a non-refundable application fee.

  • £50

This 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