Postgraduate study

Science and Technology Studies PhD, MScR

Awards: PhD, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Science and Technology Studies

The University of Edinburgh has an international reputation as a leading centre of research in Science and Technology Studies (STS).

STIS hosts the Innogen Institute and the Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation, which bring together scholars and specialist groups from across the University.

Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at SPS

Access to perhaps the largest and most interdisciplinary array of academic expertise in science and technology studies in the world allows us to provide training and specialized supervision for research students across a wide range of research topics. Lists of ongoing research projects in the subject group and of our academic staff and their interests can be found on the STIS website:

Edinburgh scholars work around the globe on the social and historical aspects of developments in science and technology.

Particular strengths in research include:

  • the history and philosophy of science
  • the social shaping of technology
  • the sociology of knowledge
  • social studies of biology and medicine
  • the history of medicine
  • the politics of controversies and public engagement with science and technology
  • science, technology and gender
  • the sociology of financial markets
  • innovation in life sciences (agriculture, food and health)
  • social studies of information and communication technologies
  • measuring and modelling the state of the environment and its sustainability
  • energy transitions
  • research policy, research metrics and research cultures
  • science and technology in low and middle income countries

The MSc by Research in Science and Technology Studies is for students who are looking to gain research skills in the social sciences, with a specific focus on Science and Technology Studies.

Most students who are considering a PhD in Science and Technology Studies are strongly advised to first complete this MSc by Research. It serves as an introductory year to expand their STS knowledge, develop research skills and hone the doctoral research proposal.

Students take a programme of coursework combining training in social science research methods with specialist courses that are specific to their interests and needs. The dissertation at the end of the MSc(R) normally takes one of two forms:

  • A research proposal including a small pilot study as a standalone piece of work
  • A research proposal that can form the basis of the board paper if the student continues on with a doctoral study

A normal programme involves successful completion of research training courses in the Graduate School at SPS and a selection of courses from those offered by the STIS subject group appropriate to the student's topic, background and needs.

Usually undertaken full-time over three years, or part-time over six years, the PhD in Science and Technology Studies is a research degree in which you will make an original contribution to our knowledge by pursuing an extended and focused piece of research on a topic of interest to them.

PhD students will usually follow our MSc by Research in STS for their first year.

This comprises specialist courses, as well as training in research methods. By the end of this year, you will have completed a full research proposal.

You will join the lively research community and participate in regular seminars and workshops, and, if a PhD student, an annual PhD student day and a retreat.

Frequent seminars and lectures by visiting scholars provide opportunities for contacts beyond the University.

Research library and archive facilities in Edinburgh are outstanding.

All research students are members of the Graduate School of Social & Political Science, with full access to the Graduate School’s facilities in the Chrystal Macmillan Building.

Other library and archive facilities include the:

  • University’s Main Library
  • National Library of Scotland
  • Scottish Records Office

Proximity to the Scottish Parliament and other institutions of national government provides further research opportunities.

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent, and a UK masters degree with an overall mark of 65% 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 Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 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 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 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.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

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:

Featured funding

For specialised guidance on submitting a competitive scholarship application, we strongly recommend you contact the Postgraduate Advisor for your subject area.

You should advise which scholarships you intend to apply for and send your draft research proposal. The Postgraduate Advisor will then contact you with guidance.

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

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.

We encourage PhD applicants in particular to contact potential You must submit a research proposal demonstrating your knowledge of your field of research, which will be closely scrutinised as part of the decision-making process. We request that PhD research proposals are no more than four A4 typed pages in Times New Roman, 12pt font. This includes charts and figures but does not include references or a bibliography.

We require PhD applicants in particular to contact potential supervisors before applying to discuss their research proposal so we can ensure there is adequate supervision.

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