Postgraduate study

Korean Studies MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Korean Studies

Why study Korea?

The Korean peninsula lies at the centre of landmark geopolitical developments in the early 21st century.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and tensions between the two Koreas serve as stark reminders of the fragility of regional and global orders.

South Korea has become a major global economic player and an important actor in development assistance.

Additionally, Korean culture (including pop culture) has surged to global popularity over the past decade and exported across the globe.

Understanding Korean culture, history, current political and economic developments and international relations is therefore crucial to make sense of key processes in global security, economics and politics in Asia and beyond.

About our programme

The MSc in Korean Studies is designed to equip you with the knowledge and skills to critically engage with these developments through recognised Masters-level training in both Korean Studies and East Asian Studies with a focus on:

  • history
  • society
  • the economy
  • urban studies
  • public policy
  • politics and international relations

The unique combination of Korean, East Asian and disciplinary expertise will enable you to acquire both in-depth knowledge about the Korean peninsula and the analytical skills to make connections between the Korean experience and other countries in the East Asian region and beyond.

Over the duration of the programme, you will complete courses and activities worth 180 credits.

You will gain your first 120 credits through a combination of core courses and optional courses, each worth 20 credits.

Your core courses will cover Korean Politics and International Relations, and Research Skills and Methods for Asian Studies, which will help prepare you for your dissertation.

The optional courses you can choose from are likely to include:

  • Political Economy of Korea’s Development: Globalisation and Inequality
  • Unwritten Korea: Understanding Korean society and culture through contemporary arts and films
  • Korean History, Culture and Society
  • Global Cities: Seoul in Comparative Perspective
  • Korean Language Beginner 1
  • Korean Language Beginner 2

Towards the end of the programme, you will complete a 60-credit MSc dissertation in Korean Studies.

Teaching and assessment

Assignments on the MSc in Korean Studies will draw on your interests and talents and help develop your workplace skills.

Over the course of the programme, you may be asked to complete:

  • video-essays
  • podcasts
  • blogs and Wikipedia entries
  • policy briefs
  • review articles and editorials

We will talk you through the assignments and their requirements in seminars and workshops.

We encourage the active participation of learners and teachers, not only in the traditional classroom format, but also online through collective lecture note taking and in a group forum on Learn.

You will achieve the following skills:

  • academic skills to understand and explain contemporary social issues in Korea and East Asia, drawing from broader comparative perspectives across the world
  • a strong understanding of theoretical and conceptual tools in Social and Political Science and International Relations, Urban Policies and History
  • ability to conduct research on the specific issues and analyse the global issues critically
  • knowledge of history and historical contexts
  • linguistic competences from Korean, Japanese and Chinese
  • sound knowledge of the East Asian region and its international role
  • regional knowledge, especially regarding funding bodies on research in South Korea and the neighbouring countries
  • familiarity with digital techniques and experience making podcasts, video essays and blogs
  • social skills necessary to work together with peer students and academics

You will acquire an interdisciplinary understanding of key issues in Korean society, politics and international relations, history and economics and will be able to relate those to broader social, political, and economic trends in the East Asian region and globally.

You will be able to engage various disciplinary and theoretical perspectives and apply concepts to empirical cases.

You will also gain the necessary knowledge and skills to analyse, compare and assess competing claims and make informed judgements about them.

You will gain transferable skills, including:

  • analysis presentation
  • communication
  • the use of new technologies in an innovative learning environment
  • team work

Such knowledge and skills will be valuable assets on the job market.

This qualification could lead to a career in:

  • national and international institutions
  • government and the private sector
  • diplomacy
  • media
  • research institutions

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, in a relevant discipline.

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 6.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 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 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 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:

Tuition fees

Featured funding

For entry in September 2023, we have scholarships for up to four students covering up to £3,000 of tuition fees in the first year of study – home and international/EU rates.

These scholarships have been made possible by the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS).

You do not need to apply for a scholarship – all eligible candidates who apply for the programme will be considered for them and contacted if successful.

We will also make prospective applicants and enrolled students aware of other available funding opportunities as they arise.

Typically, these include scholarship options from the Korea Foundation, SK Foundation, Asan Foundation and the Samsung Foundation.

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:

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH

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

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH