2024 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA Interdisciplinary Futures

UCAS code: FIA1

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Edinburgh Futures Institute

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Interdisciplinary Futures

Edinburgh Futures Institute’s undergraduate degree programme places interdisciplinary learning and complex challenges at the centre of the learning experience.

Our approach begins with profound questions about the world we live in – questions about sustainability, inequality, global health, and conflict.

A sustainable, ethical and equitable future for society and the planet cannot be addressed within a single discipline or be superficially ‘solved’ or ‘fixed’.

An approach that brings together people with diverse skills, experiences, interests and worldviews will help us create better futures and address personal, local and global challenges together.

Our approach equips you with the teamwork, critical and creative skills most valued by employers. You will:

  • Develop the confidence, knowledge, and skills to work, live, and make a difference in a rapidly changing world.
  • Gain key employability skills and collaborative experiences with different communities and partners – preparing you for a career of your choice.
  • Access leading research and award-winning teaching from a wide range of disciplines and subjects at the University of Edinburgh.
  • Benefit from a choice of courses across subject areas, dedicated student support, and opportunities for personal development.

We feature a high level of support and guidance that is a core part of teaching and learning while ensuring that you will benefit from a self-directed approach.

This programme is a launching pad for developing confidence, taking risks, exploring uncertainty and challenges and applying critical thinking.

Reputation, relevance and employability

Learn to apply your knowledge to complex problems, and your skills and insight toward building better futures.

This degree programme, from the University of Edinburgh’s new Futures Institute, is designed so you can connect with the communities, businesses, employers and environments you will find in the professional world.

This means you are able to develop applied and practical skills that are valued by employers and an incredible network of support that will help you on your journey.

Our MA Interdisciplinary Futures moves from foundational to advanced levels of knowledge and research while giving you the skills required for interdisciplinary, team-based learning that is critical to modern workplaces and lives.

Edinburgh Futures Institute

The Edinburgh Futures Institute is a key investment in our future. It is an integral part of our commitment to the local communities in which we operate and our place in the world. Recognising that the biggest challenges facing society are complex and multi-layered, and that insight and innovation often come from bringing together expertise across different disciplines, EFI is creating a new environment for learning, teaching, research and engagement. It is doing so side-by-side with communities, business, industry and government.

  • Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Edinburgh

At Edinburgh Futures Institute you will develop the skills, knowledge and confidence you need to play a vital role in a more equitable and sustainable future.

You will discover and use a range of different methods and tools to reflect and make connections between the different elements of your degree, and different disciplinary areas.

Studying at the University of Edinburgh’s Futures Institute, you will:

  • become part of a diverse and international academic community in one of the top-ranked universities in the world
  • access a world of knowledge and experience with our world-leading research and industry networks, entrepreneurial and start-up support, and cutting-edge data-driven innovation programmes
  • learn from experts and practitioners at the forefront of their fields, completing meaningful research in a wide range of disciplines
  • benefit from the University of Edinburgh’s world-class facilities and award-winning support services
  • experience student life in a vibrant and historic capital city – with world-famous cultural festivals and the mountains and beaches of Scotland on your doorstep
  • work and learn in the beautiful, historic site of the Old Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, a newly restored, state-of-the-art centre for teaching, research and digital innovation

At the core of the MA (Hons) Interdisciplinary Futures sits a suite of courses that run throughout the programme in increasing levels of complexity across your four years of study.

You will develop skills in different academic methods of:

  • data collection and analysis
  • cultural analysis
  • creative practice

You will apply the methods you are learning to complex problems and have an opportunity to use your learning in response to challenges that are co-developed with a partner organisation or business.

Across all years, you will work together with other students in interdisciplinary teams.

In addition to this core, we offer flexibility and choice across the breadth and depth of the University of Edinburgh’s research and teaching expertise. Developing the interdisciplinary skill sets needed to thrive in our global society.

Core courses in Years 1 and 2 lay the foundation for interdisciplinary learning and research and support the development of work in Years 3 and 4.

Programme structure

You can find out more about the required and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study in this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Year 1

Core courses

Researching Global Challenges

This course introduces a range of methods in response to a diverse selection of complex problems and challenges. You will develop new skills in interdisciplinary research to help build better futures.

Students as Change Agents

This course lays the foundation for the interdisciplinary work that you will do. You will respond to a complex challenge question that has been set by an external organisation or business, working in small teams with students from across the university.

Reflections on Interdisciplinary Practice

This course supports your transition into university and the new ways of learning you will encounter. You will learn to set goals and reflect on your journey towards them.

Optional courses

Over all four years of the programme, you will be able to select several courses each year from a wide range of optional courses.

From interdisciplinary courses offered by the Edinburgh Futures Institute to courses in a particular subject or discipline such as a foreign language (depending on your academic background and interests, and subject to demand.)

You will be guided in your course selection when you arrive at the University by a dedicated Student Adviser, who will help you to make the right course choices for you.

Year 2

Core courses

Future Change Agents

You will apply the methods and skills learned in ‘Researching Global Challenges’ to a new challenge identified by a local organisation or external partner.

Researching Global Challenges

You will develop and expand your research skills, working in teams to apply a range of advanced methods in response to challenges. You will develop specialist skills and knowledge in interdisciplinary research.

Reflections on Interdisciplinary Practice

You will build confidence as you learn further theories and methods of reflection, team dynamics and resilience.

You will explore how different knowledge systems are constructed and benefit from an introduction to peer mentoring techniques and frameworks for measuring success. This will help prepare you for your honours years.

Optional courses

You will again be able to select courses from a wide range of options and disciplines. A dedicated Student Adviser will guide you in your course selection.

Year 3

Core courses

Interdisciplinary Research

You will conceive, plan and deliver a collaborative research project with a multi-method approach. You will apply the skills and knowledge developed in pre-honours core courses to create a new research project in response to a selected global challenge, working in a small research team with the support of a supervisor.

Reflections on Interdisciplinary Practice

You will focus on comparing and critiquing more advanced theories and methods of interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary practice.

Adopting an enterprising mindset, you will investigate design thinking approaches to problem-solving and utilise your knowledge and experience in supporting others.

Optional courses

You will again be able to select courses from a wide range of options and disciplines. A dedicated Student Adviser will guide you in your course selection.

Year 4

Core courses

Reflections on Interdisciplinary Practice

You will receive ongoing support and preparation for life after graduation by producing compelling narratives about the experiences you have gained and how you can use them for your current and future goals.

Capstone Project

Your final project will see you synthesise the learning, methods, skills and experience you have gained across the degree.

You will use a mixed methods approach to challenges, explore your personal passion or respond to issues raised by our community, business, industry or third sector partners.

You will be supported by a supervisor and have a high degree of flexibility in shaping your final submission which may be an individual or group project.

Optional courses

You will again be able to select courses from a wide range of options and disciplines. A dedicated Student Adviser will guide you in your course selection.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2023/24)

Our facilities

From your first year, you will be based in the newly renovated, category-A listed, Edinburgh Futures Institute in the heart of Edinburgh and the central campus.

A large investment by the University has created the architect-designed Edinburgh Futures Institute building, complete with state-of-the-art teaching and working, lecture and event spaces.

The institute boasts 21,300 m² of space, 6,000 of which is new construction. It offers a unique, central location on a large park (Edinburgh’s beautiful Meadows) and is only a few steps from the University’s George Square campus and central area.

You will study and learn alongside our community of students, researchers, partner organisations and businesses.

Lectures, tutorials, and classes held in our purpose-designed spaces are tailored for both individual and group study and dedicated project work.

You will have access to an on-site cafe, performance space, digital maker labs, group and collaborative workspaces and a vibrant community of partners, businesses and organisations who are part of the Futures Institute space.

You will also have access to University computer laboratories and quality software support as well as the University of Edinburgh Library system.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look and explore all University of Edinburgh facilities and campus on the University's virtual visit site.

Discover our city's landmarks, our campuses, accommodation and get video tours - all in one place.

Student life

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs and promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

From making friends to exploring new interests to campaigning on global issues, these student-led groups offer lots of ways to engage.

Our Student Support Team is based within the Edinburgh Futures Institute.

Edinburgh is your ideal base

Edinburgh is an internationally-leading festival city filled with culture, cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections.

From the winding streets of the medieval Old Town to the Georgian squares and terraces of the New Town, it is also a dynamic centre for digital and data-driven innovation, entrepreneurship and world-leading policy on climate and sustainability.

Study abroad

In Year 3 you may have the option to study abroad through the University's international exchange programme.

How will I learn?

This degree programme combines a diverse range of learning and teaching methods and delivery.

Collaboration and working in interdisciplinary groups are core elements of the learning experience. Teaching is delivered through a combination of formats which may include:

  • lectures
  • tutorials and seminars
  • workshops
  • practical and skill-based classes
  • events, debates, and plenaries
  • team and individual-based project work
  • coaching, mentoring and peer support

In later years, you will spend more time working on projects that may involve:

  • linking the UN Sustainable Development Goals to your study areas and project work
  • developing your own interdisciplinary research project (Capstone Project)
  • working on theoretical topics with guidance from your supervisor

How will I be assessed?

There are multiple opportunities on the programme to practice skills and receive feedback on performance and progression from both peers and staff.

We use innovative and authentic assessment which focuses on process as well as on output.

In the first two years of the programme (pre-honours), we do not use marks on Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) core courses; rather they are assessed on a pass/fail basis.

We encourage students to take risks and learn from both failure and success.

This approach stresses essential learning motivation and experimentation instead of ‘grade chasing’, where the final grade is perceived as more important than the discoveries and productive missteps along the way.

Assessment methods on the EFI core courses might include:

  • a variety of written outputs (group or individual), including academic papers, reports, policy proposals, slide decks and presentations, educational resources, reflective writings
  • video, podcasts, web content, social media content (group or individual)
  • your portfolio of learning from across the programme

A range of creative, artistic, and experimental modes of assessment are also available, which allow students to shape their own learning experience and use their existing and developing skills.

There are no exams for Edinburgh Futures Institute core courses but some of the optional courses offered by other areas of the University may use exams.

The University of Edinburgh is ranked in the top 10 in the UK for the employability of our graduates (Times Higher Education, Global Employability University Ranking 2020).

With this degree programme, you will gain key transferable skills that employers are looking for and the knowledge and confidence to become an active, questioning citizen of the world.

In today’s increasingly complex and global environment, the skills that are most valued by employers include:

  • team working
  • problem-solving
  • coping with uncertainty
  • creative work
  • making connections
  • understanding and responding to complexity and change

The MA (Hons) Interdisciplinary Futures degree responds to increased demand from employers for graduates with multi-disciplinary experience who are able to respond to complex environments and challenges.

You will develop core transferable skills such as teamwork, self-assessment, resilience and collaboration that are key to professional and career development.

You will be able to:

  • compile and critically evaluate large amounts of complex and conflicting evidence
  • formulate and present your views coherently and cogently, both orally and in writing
  • present and pitch ideas and creative responses to challenges
  • apply practical, hands-on experience of the methods and skills you learn
  • work with small teams and groups as well as wider networks and professionals

The research and analytical skills our students develop can be used in various research-based careers or in further academic postgraduate study and research.

Where do our graduates find employment?

Graduates will be well equipped for roles as leaders and innovators in new and emerging industries.

You will be able to apply your learning and skills in a wide range of career opportunities in different areas such as:

  • international and community development
  • non-governmental organisations
  • design
  • consulting
  • development
  • policy and governance
  • financial services
  • arts, culture and heritage
  • charity and social enterprise
  • health and social care
  • environment and sustainability
  • law

Potential types of roles with relevant skills and qualifications may include:

  • advocacy / social activist
  • finance and business roles
  • international development officer
  • management consultant
  • policy officer/adviser
  • programme development roles – in arts, cultural and creative industries
  • project manager
  • researcher
  • social entrepreneur
  • sustainability/climate change adviser

Careers Service

Our award-winning Careers Service can help you realise your career ambitions, and offer practical advice about how to progress your career goals.

The service offers advice, guidance and careers information for all students and our recent graduates.

Careers Service staff can also help you to work while you study or advise you on volunteering opportunities.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: No specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

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.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 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 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Interdisciplinary Futures

Additional costs

You will bear the costs of printing some of your work.

You may also have to buy books, depending on your choice of optional courses.

On some courses, you may be encouraged to purchase additional learning materials.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding