Postgraduate study

International Development PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: International Development

The University of Edinburgh is host to a thriving and cosmopolitan community of researchers working on global development issues.

Research topics

We are home to internationally recognised academics working at the intersection of:

  • international development policy and health
  • science/technology
  • culture
  • religion
  • migration
  • environment
  • energy
  • urbanisation
  • infrastructure
  • mining
  • human rights

We have regional centres of expertise in:

  • Africa
  • South Asia
  • Latin America

Research community

Doctoral students in International Development become part of a vibrant, interdisciplinary research community, and members of the Global Development Academy, which coordinates research and teaching on international development across the University.

We also welcome students who are keen to develop doctoral research projects in collaboration with third parties, for example:

  • NGOs
  • multilateral and bilateral agencies
  • campaign groups
  • media organisations

You will enjoy special opportunities to meet development policy-makers, practitioners, diplomats, and internationally renowned academics visiting the Global Development Academy.

Research seminars and events

In addition, you will be invited to join research workshops hosted by the Global Development Academy and regular open research seminars held by subject areas across the School of Social & Political Science.

As a postgraduate in our International Development group, you will receive regular one-to-one thesis supervision from two supervisors with expertise in your regional and/or specific research areas.

Focused supervision in the International Development group is drawn from faculty associated to:

  • Centre of African Studies
  • Sociology
  • Social Anthropology
  • Social Policy
  • Politics and History

These were all ranked among the UK’s top six subject groups by the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.

In addition, staff from across the University provide enriching expertise and training for our research students.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent, and a UK masters degree with an overall mark of 65% or its international equivalent.

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

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 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.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Featured funding

For specialised guidance on submitting a competitive scholarship application, we strongly recommend you contact the Postgraduate Advisor for your Subject Area:

You should advise which scholarships you intend to apply for and send your draft research proposal. The Postgraduate Advisor will then contact you with guidance.

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 residency status.

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

*(Revised 19 November 2020 with changes to links and advice for funding.)

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

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.

We encourage PhD applicants in particular to contact potential supervisors before applying to discuss their research proposal so we can ensure there is adequate supervision.

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