Postgraduate study

International Political Theory MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: International Political Theory

Covid-19 update

As part of the University-wide response to the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have reluctantly decided that we will be unable to offer this programme for entry in 2021*. Applications for the next intake usually open in October.

*(Revised 30 November 2020 to add information on programme suspension for 2021.)

Programme aims

This programme aims to equip you with key intellectual skills to analyse contemporary domestic and international affairs from a philosophically informed perspective, with a particular focus on their ethical and critical dimensions.

In our interconnected world, pressing political issues such as migration, accelerating climate change, entrenched racism, global poverty, and political violence challenge our existing institutions as well as traditional ways of doing and thinking about politics. Since such issues cannot be contained within the boundaries of the nation state, they need to be examined in light of increasing global integration.

How will I learn?

This political theory programme tackles these international challenges ethically and critically, with a view to providing a complex perspective on the rights and wrongs of international affairs and their global political and economic consequences.

As well as delving into the history of global political thought, you will be trained in contemporary traditions of political theory, with a view to developing a sophisticated, theoretically informed view of the current political horizon. You will also develop key transferable skills related to:

  • logical argumentation
  • writing
  • research
  • presentational practice

Political theory hub

Edinburgh features a large and methodologically diverse group of political theorists, whose internationally recognised work informs their teaching and mentoring practice. Moreover, the Centre for Ethics and Critical Thought at the University of Edinburgh constitutes a vibrant hub for political theory, and all MSc students are encouraged to participate in its rich programme of events and activities.

Teaching will be by:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • group work
  • guided independent study

You will complete:

  • two compulsory courses
  • four option courses

You will then work towards an independently researched dissertation.

With the agreement of the Programme Director, it may be possible to select option courses from elsewhere within the University.

You will be able to:

  • extend and further develop your understanding of the main concepts and methods of political theory
  • understand how concepts such as justice, rights and democracy apply in global contexts
  • assess critically how existing transnational institutions meet, or fail to meet, appropriate normative standards
  • apply analytical, critical and philosophical methods to the study of empirical problems in the field of international politics

This programme will give you the theoretical foundation for further study and a career in academic teaching and research.

Alternatively, you may apply your learning to a career relating to:

  • international governance and policy
  • journalism
  • public administration

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.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

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:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

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:

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

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.

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