Postgraduate study

International Relations MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: International Relations

This programme studies international relations and the pressing problems humanity faces in the international realm.

By joining this fascinating programme, you will become part of a community that is passionate about international relations.

We explore topics such as:

  • war
  • terrorism
  • power
  • diplomacy
  • climate change
  • trade
  • poverty
  • migration
  • international cooperation

We engage in not just their study, but also ways to meet the associated challenges.

How will I learn?

Our approach combines innovative research with creative and inspirational teaching, provided by staff who combine intricate knowledge of the major international institutions with a deep appreciation of historical change and the most important ideas in international thought.

You will be inspired to explore a world of possibilities, from evolutionary psychology and the sociology of the financial crisis to state survival in the Middle East and the social construction of security.

The programme will be delivered through:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • group work
  • guided independent study

You will complete:

  • two compulsory courses *four option courses

This is followed by work towards an independently researched dissertation.

With the agreement of the Programme Director, you may select option courses from elsewhere within the University.

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 you will:

  • know and understand core explanatory theories, concepts, institutions and issues in the study of international relations
  • have specialist in-depth knowledge of specific areas and issues in international relations
  • know key contemporary debates in existing academic literatures in journals and books on international relations
  • be able to analyse and evaluate competing theoretical paradigms in the explanation and judgment of international relations
  • be able to apply explanatory models to analyse and understand specific developments within international relations
  • be able to draw on a variety of disciplinary paradigms in the understanding of international relations

This qualification could lead to a career in a wide range of institutions and roles, such as:

  • regional, national and international government institutions
  • party political support
  • development organisations
  • educational, research and think-tank organisations
  • banking
  • media
  • lobbying
  • commercial organisations

You may also choose to continue to further study.

The transferable skills you gain in areas such as communication and research will give you an edge in the employment market, whatever your eventual career.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in politics, international relations, or the social sciences.

We may also consider your application if you have a different background but have taken courses relevant to the programme.

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

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

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 residency status.

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

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Director, Dr Shaina Western
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 1578
  • Contact: swestern@ed.ac.uk
  • 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, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants 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 2nd November 2020 20th November 2020*
2 23rd November 2020 11th December 2020
3 11th January 2021 12th February 2021
4 15th February 2021 12th March 2021
5 15th March 2021 9th April 2021
6 19th April 2021 7th May 2021
7 17th May 2021 4th June 2021
8 14th June 2021 9th July 2021

*(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.

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

Further information

  • Programme Director, Dr Shaina Western
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 1578
  • Contact: swestern@ed.ac.uk
  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD