Applications are now closed for September 2021 entry. Applications for the next intake usually open in October.
Passionate about the pressing problems humanity faces in the international realm
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 MSc International Relations programme offers intensive training in the theory and practice of international relations, and preparation for a diverse range of international careers or further research.
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.
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
The MSc Programme is taken over twelve months of full-time study (part-time candidates normally fulfil the requirements of the degree in 24 months). 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.
The dissertation is an extended piece of scholarship of a maximum 15,000 words in which students have the opportunity to pursue a topic largely of their choosing. Academically it is the most advanced element of the degree. It is also the point where students progress from structured study in courses to independent study.
All students are assigned a supervisor for their dissertation. Students are expected to demonstrate the ability to engage critically and analytically with the literature, building upon relevant concepts and theory covered in the taught element of the degree. The dissertation is normally made up of a balance of empirical and theoretical work. However, students are not required to conduct primary field research.
Past dissertation topics
Examples of dissertation topics in previous years in related programmes include:
- International Security
- Comparative Regionalism
- Modern Peacekeeping
- Middle Eastern Politics
- African Foreign Policy
- EU Environmental Politics
- Humanitarian Intervention
- International Terrorism
- Gender Politics
- American Foreign Policy
- International Trade
- European Security and Defence Policy
- Enlargement of the European Union
- Turkish membership of the EU
- Career opportunities
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
- 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.
- How to apply
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.
Please ensure that you have submitted all supporting documentation and paid the application fee before the deadline for the round in which you wish to be considered.
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.
If you have received an offer but are no longer able to take up your place, please decline your offer via your Applicant Hub portal, or contact PGAdmissions.firstname.lastname@example.org so that your place may be offered to another applicant.
Award Title Duration Study mode MSc 1 Year Full-time Tuition fees MSc 2 Years Part-time Tuition fees
- Additional information
Edinburgh and the University
Both the city and University of Edinburgh are dynamic, cosmopolitan centres of international political engagement, culture and learning. They combine centuries of political, economic, military and intellectual history, including the legacy of the Scottish Enlightenment, with the modern institutions of a forward thinking capital city.
Edinburgh itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the University is currently ranked 20th in the world in the QS World University Rankings.
Students from our programmes in International Relations (IR) and International and European Politics (IEP) have found work in:
- NATO Crisis Management Policy Division
- United Nations Development Programme, Disaster Risk Reduction
- United Nations, Elections Officer
- United Nations Industrial Development Organization
- United Nations Mine Action Service
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
- United Nations Security Council
European Union Institutions
- European Commission (stages in DGs Agriculture, Competition, Enlargement, Trade)
- European Commission Delegation in Washington
- European Parliament—stage
Council of the Baltic Sea States
National Government and Administrative Institutions
- Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Irish Civil Service
- Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
- Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Norwegian Agricultural Authority
- Scottish Executive
- Scottish Parliament
- UK Civil Service
- UK Foreign Office
- UK Electoral Commission
- UK House of Commons
- UK Ministry of Defence
- United States House of Representatives
- American Chamber of Commerce, EU Committee in Brussels
Party Political Support
- European Parliament—European Free Alliance Group
- Office of Member of European Parliament
- Office of Member of Parliament
- Office of Member of Scottish Parliament
- Scottish National Party
- Africa Educational Trust
- International Committee of the Red Cross
- Just World
- Refugees International
- Sudan Volunteer Program
Educational, Research and Think Tank Organisations
- European Policy Centre
- Foreign Policy Centre
- Institute of European Affairs
- Mount San Jacinto College
- Policy Research Institute
- School of Peace and Culture (Autonoma University of Barcelona)
- Scottish Council Foundation
- Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
Advocacy and Lobby Organisations
- Conservation International
- Environmental Law and Policy Center
- Global Witness
- Kurdish Human Rights Project
- Scottish Civic Forum
Banking and Financial Institutions
- Bank of America
- Ernst and Young
- European Central Bank
- Price Waterhouse Coopers
Media and PR Organisations
- Bloomberg Media
- European Agenda (news magazine)
- Financial Times
- Hill & Knowlton
- Media Corporation of Singapore
- New York Times Website
- Press Data Bureau
- Glaxo SmithKline
- Olympic Airways
The School of Social and Political Science sits within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. All enquiries and applications relating to undergraduate admissions to the School are handled by our College. Please contact:
CAHSS Undergraduate Admissions
University of Edinburgh
57 George Square
Edinburgh, EH8 9JX