Postgraduate study

International Development

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: International Development

This programme engages critically with international development thinking and practice, and more broadly with processes of social, political and economic transformation throughout the global south.

This programme is designed to suit the needs of both recent graduates of various disciplines, and professionals with two to five, or more, years’ experience who want to shift careers, upgrade their academic qualifications, or take a year out to reflect critically on their work.

Although most students will move on after one year to development-related jobs, some may use the programme as a pathway into our PhD in International Development:

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Development Academy.

You will complete a total of six courses over two semesters stretching from September to April.

Two are compulsory, one on the historical evolution and paradigm shifts in politics and theories of development, the other on contemporary issues and institutions of relevance to development policy and practice.

The other four courses are options. These may be chosen from across the University, drawing on the expertise of faculty members within political and social science and beyond, including business, law and geosciences.

From May to August students complete either a work-based project or a standard research dissertation.

Work-based project

We realise the importance of offering practical experiences to complement our critical and historical approaches in the classroom. An integral part of the programme – and one of our advantages compared to other masters programmes in international development – are work-based projects.

These consist of eight weeks of on-location 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 partners includes NGOs, charities, social enterprise, think-tanks and government bodies.

Research dissertation

Alternatively, you may wish to explore an academic issue or theme in greater depth by choosing to complete a research dissertation based on fieldwork and/or print and library sources.

By the end of the programme students will be able to:

  • critically evaluate the factors shaping particular development processes and their outcomes
  • appropriately apply theories and insights from scholarly research to practical issues and problems of development policy and practice
  • choose and apply the most appropriate research methods to a particular development policy problem or case
  • analyse policy documents and reports

This programme provides multidisciplinary training and perspectives on development theory, policy and practice that is aimed to equip graduates for careers in public sector and non-governmental development agencies, consultancy and private business.

The opportunity to apply your academic training to real-world problems and acquire hands-on work experience through the work-based projects will give you an edge in the employment market whatever your eventual career.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

A non-refundable application fee of £50 must be paid after you submit your application. Your application will not be processed until we have received your application fee.

Find out more about tuition fees and studying costs:

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD
Programme start date Application deadline
10 September 2018 13 July 2018

We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.

References are not usually required for applications to this programme.

Application fee

A non-refundable application fee of £50 must be paid after you submit your application. Your application will not be processed until we have received your application fee.

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