Postgraduate study

International Relations MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: International Relations

This programme studies international relations and the pressing problems humanity faces in the international realm.

By joining this fascinating programme, you’ll become part of a community that is passionate about international relations.

We explore topics such as war, terrorism, power, diplomacy, climate change, trade, poverty, migration and international cooperation; not just their study, but also ways to meet the associated challenges.

Our approach combines innovative research with creative and inspirational teaching, provided by staff who combine intricate knowledge of the major international institutions with a deep appreciation of historical change and the most important ideas in international thought.

You’ll be inspired to explore a world of possibilities, from evolutionary psychology and the sociology of the financial crisis to state survival in the Middle East and the social construction of security.

The programme will be delivered through lectures, seminars, group work and guided independent study.

You will complete two compulsory courses and four option courses, followed by work towards an independently researched dissertation.

With the agreement of the Programme Director, you may select option courses from elsewhere within the University.

By the end of the programme you will:

  • know and understand core explanatory theories, concepts, institutions and issues in the study of international relations
  • have specialist in-depth knowledge of specific areas and issues in international relations
  • know key contemporary debates in existing academic literatures in journals and books on international relations
  • be able to analyse and evaluate competing theoretical paradigms in the explanation and judgment of international relations
  • be able to apply explanatory models to analyse and understand specific developments within international relations
  • be able to draw on a variety of disciplinary paradigms in the understanding of international relations

This qualification could lead to a career in a wide range of institutions and roles, such as regional, national and international government institutions, party political support, development organisations, educational, research and think-tank organisations, banking, media, lobbying, and commercial organisations. You may also choose to continue to further study.

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

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in politics, international relations, or the social sciences.

We may also consider your application if you have a different background but have taken courses relevant to the programme.

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: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: 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

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, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, 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.

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.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

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.

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, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Director, Dr Shaina Western
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 1578
  • Contact: swestern@ed.ac.uk
  • 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 offers to the most outstanding candidates at the end of each round, with other competitive applicants being placed on a waiting list. The deadlines and response dates are as follows:

Round Deadline Response By
1 1st November 2018 15th November 2018
2 1st December 2018 15th December 2018
3 15th January 2019 1st February 2019
4 15th February 2019 1st March 2019
5 15th March 2019 1st April 2019
6 15th April 2019 1st May 2019
7 15th May 2019 1st June 2019
8 15th June 2019 1st July 2019

Successful applicants must accept their offer within 28 days of the response date in order to secure their place on the programme. As this programme is highly competitive, any applicants who have not responded within this time will lose their offer, and offers will be made to applicants on the waiting list as places become available.

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

  • Programme Director, Dr Shaina Western
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 1578
  • Contact: swestern@ed.ac.uk
  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD