Postgraduate study

Global Challenges (Online Learning) MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Part-time, Part-time Intermittent Study

Online learning

Funding opportunities

With almost 8 billion people on earth, and rising, how can we all live well without compromising the life support systems of our planet?

This unique and cutting-edge programme will enable you to tackle global problems in a multidisciplinary way. It will equip you to address causes, consider preventative approaches, and implement suitable responses.

Addressing complex global issues We live in an increasingly complex, often contradictory, fast-changing world:

  • we have experienced unprecedented economic growth but inequality grows between and within nations
  • we know more than ever about the natural environment, yet we may be on the cusp of irreversible changes caused by human activity
  • more people than ever before are living longer, healthier lives, while billions suffer from hunger, malnutrition and disease

Climate change, natural disasters, political instability, conflict and wars, mixed in with overpopulation, poverty and underinvestment in low-income countries are leading to a range of challenges on a scale and at a frequency not experienced before.

Challenges of migrating and vulnerable populations, emerging and re-emerging diseases, humanitarian crises and unprecedented urban development need a multidisciplinary approach with sustainability at the heart of it.

This programme is unique. It is made up of three postgraduate certificates which you can study in any order. Together they give you a lens on the drivers and causes of the different global crises we are facing, and strategies and tools to implement solutions and work in partnership with those who are leading change. The MSc comprises three Postgraduate Certificates:

  • PgCert Global Environment Challenges
  • PgCert Global Health Challenges
  • PgCert Global Development Challenges

You can study any one of the above individual Certificates as a standalone programme. You can also choose to study all three. Successful completion of all three of these Certificates leads to the award of the MSc in Global Challenges.

Three components that make up the MSc

The three stages of Postgraduate Certificate that make up the MSc are:

PgCert Global Development Challenges

Global Development Challenges considers the increasing economic, social and political inequalities in many parts of the world, and the need for new ways of thinking about and addressing development from a global perspective. The programme is offered by the School of Social and Political Science.

PgCert Global Environment Challenges

Global Environment Challenges considers how human activity is changing the natural environment at an unprecedented rate and the impact of this on human wellbeing and development. The programme is offered by the School of Geosciences.

PgCert Global Health Challenges

Global Health Challenges considers the connections between local and global health challenges, and our changing understanding of health and wellness in the context of the health of the planet. The programme is offered by the Usher Institute within the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

Due to the highly flexible nature of this programme, it is an excellent way for those with professional or family commitments to gain a further qualification with minimum interruption or to introduce students to a virtual learning environment.

Our award-winning online learning technology is fully interactive, enabling you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.

You will learn through a mix of online methods, including video lectures, study guides, self-directed and guided reading, and a range of interactive online reflection and discussion activities. You will be part of a vibrant and supportive virtual community.

Our online students not only have access to Edinburgh’s excellent resources, but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

Studying online at Edinburgh

Find out more about the benefits and practicalities of studying for an online degree:

Our MSc in Global Challenges allows you to study flexibly at a pace that suits you. You can complete the three components in any order you wish.

There is no dissertation element: each Postgraduate Certificate provides opportunities for you, in discussion with academic staff, to develop innovative projects as part of your assessment.

The MSc in Global Challenges is normally completed over three to six academic years and is awarded by the School of Social and Political Science.

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
MScGlobal Challenges3 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2022/23
MScGlobal ChallengesUp to 6 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2022/23

This programme will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed for work with:

  • governments
  • non-government organisations (NGOs)
  • international aid organisations
  • United Nations agencies
  • the private sector
  • universities
  • other research institutions

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

These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023.

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

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.

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 (non-MESC).

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 Challenges3 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MScGlobal ChallengesUp to 6 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees

The University of Edinburgh offers a small number of scholarships to outstanding candidates. These are very competitive. Data on the success rate for scholarship applications can be seen on our website:

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
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD
Programme start date Application deadline
11 September 2023 7 August 2023

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.

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
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD