Postgraduate study

Global Mental Health and Society MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities


Mental health and well-being are crucial global health and social welfare policy concerns with significant resources and research devoted to this area. This inter-disciplinary post-graduate programme offers you opportunities to develop critical perspectives on global mental health policy, practice and research, space for creating transformative possibilities and tools for conceptual and practice innovation.

Global mental health is emerging as a hybrid academic discipline with academic training programmes, journals, textbooks and research consortiums – primarily in the UK and the USA, but also in Canada and Europe. Much of this activity has been situated in psychiatry and public health disciplines – with a growing body of scholarly work from other professional and social science disciplines including medical anthropology, social work, international development, and clinical psychology.

The role of the social sciences in global mental health is crucial to:

  1. further critical understandings of how conceptions of ‘distress’ and ‘mental health’ are socially, culturally and politically constructed in different contexts;
  2. theorising the intersections between social and economic development and mental health;
  3. developing effective inter-disciplinary approaches to addressing the mental health-development interface.

However, there are as yet no social science led post-graduate global mental health programmes in the UK.

There is increasing global and local policy emphasis on ‘standardised’ and ‘evidence-based’ approaches to mental health care, which in doing so, potentially neglect three important dimensions, namely the diversity of understandings of what constitutes ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’, the complex social, cultural and political dynamics that shape psychological distress and the transformative value of inter- and trans-disciplinary ways of thinking about and engaging with mental health. This proposed programme will engage you in these current debates and dilemmas. It will focus on the culturally, politically, and socially situated conceptualisations of mental health and address the implications of these multiple understandings for effective policy and practice in the global south and north.

The programme is aimed at both professionals with backgrounds in social work, international development, public health, psychology, nursing and medicine as well as graduates in health studies, psychology, social anthropology, international development and other relevant disciplines.

You will complete six courses over two semesters from September to April. Three of which are compulsory core courses.

The first core course will enable you to theorize and problematize key concepts such as ‘mental health’, ‘mental illness’, ‘emotion’, western diagnostic categories, ‘healing’ and examine their cross-cultural application in practice. This course will draw primarily on literature from medical anthropology, psychological anthropology, transcultural psychiatry and cross-cultural psychology.

The second core course will enable you to critically engage with key policy and practice debates in global mental health including: the framing of global mental health as a policy problem; social, psycho-social, and biomedical interventions; marginality and intersectionality including gender and social inequalities; the role of communities in global mental health; impact of war and disaster; and poverty and development. This course will draw on inter-disciplinary global mental health literature including public health, medical anthropology, social work, psychology, international development, Mad studies and transcultural psychiatry.

The third core course will focus on the application of inter-disciplinary approaches to practice, policy and research. You will develop skills in cross and inter-disciplinary dialogues and gain a clearer understanding of different research paradigms in global mental health.

The other three courses are options. These may be selected from across the University, drawing on the expertise of faculty members within social and political sciences, clinical psychology, health in social sciences, and public health amongst other disciplines.

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

The programme will be taught by world-leading experts from Edinburgh's Global Mental Health Research Network, drawing together multiple disciplines including: medical anthropology, social work, psychology, and trans-cultural psychiatry. You will also engage with key overseas collaborators of the Network through video, case studies and guest lectures.

Practical experiences can complement teaching in the classroom. An integral part of this programme are work-based projects.

These consist of eight weeks of 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 global mental health partners include local and global NGOs and research organisations.

Graduating from this programme will enable you to:

  1. Critically engage with key conceptual and policy debates in global mental health, applying contextually appropriate perspectives.
  2. Apply concepts, theories and methods from a diversity of disciplines (e.g. social work, medical anthropology, clinical psychology, psychiatry and development studies).
  3. Independently apply, integrate and critically reflect upon different disciplinary approaches to global mental health.
  4. Critically assess complex societal issues from an open-minded, reflexive and reasoned perspective.
  5. Communicate effectively with a variety of audiences.
  6. Critically apply the knowledge acquired to inform future global mental health programmes, practice, policies and research.

This qualification will be help prepare you for careers in global mental health policy, implementation, and research. You would also be qualified to undertake similar careers with the UK health sector.

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.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScGlobal Mental Health and Society1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScGlobal Mental Health and Society2 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, 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
Programme start date Application deadline
14 September 2020 6 July 2020

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa 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
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD