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MSc by Research in Politics (including International Relations)

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The application deadline for this programme is 13th July 2018

Welcome to our web pages on the MSc by Research degree in Politics & International Relations. We are delighted that you are interested in postgraduate research in our programme.

The MSc/Diploma by Research (Politics) provides a structured programme of research training to equip students with the skills required to undertake doctoral level research in politics or a research related career. As well as core political research skills, the MSc by Research offers postgraduate students the opportunity to develop their own interests within the framework of its workshops and courses and also the dissertation that forms part of the degree.

The Master's by Research degree is for students who do not have a Master's degree that provided research training skills. Most Master's by Research students intend to follow this degree with a PhD degree (the '1+3' route). Click here for further information on the PhD programme.

What's special about doing the Master's by Research degree in Politics & International Relations at the University of Edinburgh?

Our Staff

The 40 members of our academic staff enjoy international reputations for their research and have won numerous teaching, research and advising awards. Their scholarship covers a diverse range of research areas on Scotland, Europe, and the world and is published in highly-rated journals and books. The department has a strong tradition of advising, informing and debating policy with key decision-makers at Scottish, UK, European and international levels. Edinburgh Politics & International Relations is one of the leading centres of research excellence in the UK, ranked well into the top 10 in the 2014 Research Assessment Exercise (the most recent). We were one of only 3 Departments to achieve 100% 4* (the top ranking) for 'research environment'.  Our department placed 6th in the UK in the 2015 QS World University Ranking.

Our Stimulating Intellectual Community

We have a large, vibrant, diverse, and international community of postgraduate students. We direct active research institutes, including the Europa Institute, the Academy of GovernmentSKAPECeSeR and the Just World Institute.  Politics & International Relations at Edinburgh is located in the Graduate School of Social & Political Science.  The School benefits from the broader University of Edinburgh community of world-class researchers. A flourishing programme of events, seminars, and research groups complements our postgraduate courses and doctoral supervision.

Our Dedication to Students 

We are deeply committed to our students at all levels and offer individualized supervision, mentoring, and support. Many post-graduate students work closely with staff on research and themselves publish independent papers. The department warmly welcomes the participation by our post-graduate community in our research, our working groups and centres, and in the daily life of the department. Our students are further supported by a range of courses, workshops, and professional development opportunities sponsored by the Graduate School of Social & Political Science and the Institute for Academic Development.


For general queries about admission procedures and requirements, please contact our Postgraduate Admissions Team.

For substantive queries (for example if you wish to send a short - 2/3 pages - draft research proposal) please contact Dr Shaun Bevan (, Director of Postgraduate Admissions (Research).

For further information about the programme, please contact Dr Shaun Bevan, Director of Postgraduate Research Admissions for Politics & IR. Or Dr Ewan Stein Postgraduate Adviser for Politics & IR.

How to Apply

Detailed information on the application procedure, including entry requirements is available online. Applicants must provide a research statement describing the area of research that they intend to specialise in - not simply 'politics' but, more specifically:

which sub-field of politics;
which issues/questions they propose to address;
what the relevant literature is;
the methodology;
why your academic and/or professional background makes you particularly equipped to carry out this research, etc.

We do not expect a proposal equivalent to that of doctoral applications. Nevertheless, as this degree is preparation for doctoral research, we do need to know whether your research interests, however broad they might be at this stage, will align with those of our staff members.

We recommend that you send an initial outline proposal to Dr Shaun Bevan, who will locate a member of staff who has the appropriate expertise to supervise you. Alternatively, you can contact staff directly by looking through the staff research interests.