Postgraduate study

Global Mental Health and Society MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities


Global Mental Health - interdisciplinary approaches at Edinburgh

  • Do you want to examine how mental health is understood and addressed cross-culturally across the world?
  • Are you interested in the social drivers of poor mental health and ways to address these?
  • Do you want to play a role in transforming mental health care globally?

Mental health and well-being are crucial global health and social welfare policy concerns with significant resources and research devoted to this area.

This interdisciplinary postgraduate programme offers you opportunities to develop:

  • critical perspectives on global mental health policy
  • practice and research
  • space for creating transformative possibilities
  • tools for conceptual and practice innovation

A hybrid academic discipline

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:

  • further critical understandings of how conceptions of ‘distress’ and ‘mental health’ are socially, culturally and politically constructed in different contexts
  • theorising the intersections between social and economic development and mental health
  • developing effective interdisciplinary approaches to addressing the mental health-development interface

Debates in mental health care

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
  • the transformative value of inter- and transdisciplinary ways of thinking about and engaging with mental health

This programme will engage you in these current debates and dilemmas.

It will:

  • focus on the culturally, politically and socially situated conceptualisations of mental health
  • address the implications of these multiple understandings for effective policy and practice in the global south and north

Who this programme is for

The programme is aimed at both professionals with backgrounds in:

  • social work
  • international development
  • public health
  • psychology
  • nursing
  • medicine

It is also aimed at graduates in:

  • health studies
  • psychology
  • social anthropology
  • international development
  • other social science disciplines

We welcome applications from people with lived experience.

The MSc in Global Mental Health and Society is offered as one-year full-time or two-year part-time programme.

The programme consists of 180 credits, comprised of:

  • 3 x 20-credit required core courses
  • 3 x 20-credit optional courses
  • a 60-credit dissertation course

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


Culture and Mental Health

The first core course, Culture and Mental Health, engages you in theorising and problematising key concepts such as:

  • ‘mental health’
  • ‘mental illness'
  • ‘emotion’
  • ‘trauma’
  • western diagnostic categories
  • ‘healing’

This course also gets you to examine their cross-cultural application in practice.

This course will draw primarily on literature from:

  • medical anthropology
  • psychological anthropology
  • transcultural psychiatry
  • cross-cultural psychology

Critical Approaches to Global Mental Health and Social Change

The second core course, Critical Approaches to Global Mental Health and Social Change, enables students 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
  • poverty and development

This course will draw on interdisciplinary global mental health literature including from:

  • public health
  • medical anthropology
  • social work
  • psychology
  • international development
  • Mad studies
  • transcultural psychiatry

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Mental Health: Practice, Policy and Research

The third core course, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Mental Health: Practice, Policy and Research, focuses 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.

Option courses

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
  • public health
  • other disciplines

Project or dissertation

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

The aim of the placement-based dissertation is to provide students with the opportunity to work on their dissertation within the context of a workplace of their choosing. This could be within a public sector, a voluntary, a charitable or a private organisation, subject to the approval of the Programme Director.

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.

Award Duration Study mode Structure
MSc 2 Years Part-time study Programme structure 2022/23
MSc 1 Year Full-time study Programme structure 2022/23

Global Mental Health Research Network

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
  • trans-cultural psychiatry

You will also engage with key overseas collaborators of the Network through video, case studies and guest lectures.

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 Mental Health and Society1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2023/24
MScGlobal Mental Health and Society2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2023/24

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 non-government organisations (NGOs) and research organisations.

Graduating from this programme will enable you to:

  • critically engage with key conceptual and policy debates in global mental health, applying contextually appropriate perspectives
  • apply concepts, theories and methods from a diversity of disciplines (for example, social work, medical anthropology, clinical psychology, psychiatry and development studies)
  • independently apply, integrate and critically reflect upon different disciplinary approaches to global mental health
  • critically assess complex societal issues from an open-minded, reflexive and reasoned perspective
  • communicate effectively with a variety of audiences
  • critically apply the knowledge acquired to inform future global mental health programmes, practice, policies and research

Global mental health is a growing field with significant recent and ongoing investment from multilateral development agencies and governments, in both research and implementation.

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.

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:

Tuition fees

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
  • 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
Programme start date Application deadline
11 September 2023 30 June 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.

References are not usually required for applications to this programme.

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