Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Global Environment, Politics and Society MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

The Global Environment, Politics and Society (GEPS) programme offers interdisciplinary exploration and immersion in social scientific inquiry used to understand and address environmental issues. Students have a great amount of latitude to design their own course of interest, and can take many methodological, disciplinary, and integrative approaches. The core coursework combines the following:

  • environmental politics
  • environmental sociology
  • normative philosophy

But many students engage with a range of other social science disciplines as well. Students take coursework from fields across the University.

Understanding issues such as climate change, sustainable development and biodiversity requires knowledge about the political, moral and societal dimensions of environmental problems and solutions. The Global Environment, Politics and Society degree provides a social science-based, practice-oriented exploration of these global environmental challenges and solutions. Prospective applicants should note that whilst we broadly focus on social sciences, and this can stretch beyond the disciplines listed above, our particular programme does not focus on economics, business, or finance. There are other strong programmes in these areas at the University of Edinburgh.

In the GEPS programme, students will develop the knowledge and analytical tools to address questions such as:

  • Are meaningful environmental agreements possible in a system of sovereign states?
  • Is the environment more than an economic resource for human exploitation?
  • What drives groups, individuals or institutions to take action on environmental issues?
  • What is the effect of such mobilisation?
  • What does environmental justice look like and to what extent is it achievable, and how?

Students on this programme can also take advantage of the many climate and sustainability activities offered by the University's Social Responsibility and Sustainability Department and new Earth Initiative.

We offer the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society as a one-year full-time or two-year part-time programme.

Teaching methods will include:

  • seminars
  • group work
  • lectures
  • presentations
  • guided independent study

You will be assessed through:

  • coursework
  • seminar assessment
  • presentations

You will complete six courses over two semesters from September to April. This will include:

  • the core course ‘Global Environment: Key Issues’ in the first semester
  • your selection of one (or more) of four additional core offerings in the second semester
  • four other courses of your choice to complete coursework in a way that meets your goals for tailored study


From mid-April through August you will complete either a work-based project or a standard research dissertation.

The dissertation represents a chance to get to grips with a topic of the student's own choosing, supervised by an appropriate member of academic staff.

Placement-based 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, which could be with an NGO, government department, political party or business, subject to the approval of the Programme Director.

You will:

  • develop a critical understanding of the key concepts, actors and dynamics characterising global environmental problems and solutions
  • engage critically with different disciplinary and theoretical perspectives on environmental issues
  • assess competing claims and make informed judgements about current global environmental problems
  • develop your ability to present, in written and verbal form, coherent, balanced arguments
  • use a range of research skills to plan and execute a significant project of research on a major global environmental challenge

You will acquire an advanced, multidisciplinary understanding of the major contemporary environmental challenges facing the world, and the different disciplinary and theoretical perspectives (from politics, international relations, ethics and sociology) used to explain them.

You will graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary to assess competing claims and make informed judgements about current global environmental problems and possible solutions.

Such knowledge and skills are sought after by a wide range of public and private employers in the fields of environmental policy, consultancy and advocacy. Alumni of our MSc programme have gone on to further (PhD) study or to work for a range of employers in the following sectors:

  • local, national, and international government organisations
  • environmental NGOs
  • independent research organisations
  • universities
  • private industries
  • consultancy groups

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent in social science, humanities or environmental science, or relevant work experience in the environmental field.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

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. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition 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

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.

Please be aware that applications must be submitted and be complete, i.e. all required documents uploaded, by the relevant application deadline in order to be considered in that round. Your application will still be considered if you have not yet met the English language requirement for the programme.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2024/25:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 01 November 2023 21 December 2023
2 04 January 2024 07 March 2024
3 11 March 2024 09 May 2024
4 03 June 2024 31 July 2024

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