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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


About The Programme

International Relations and European Politics in one programme

With the MSc International and European Politics, students get the best of both worlds: they can specialise in European studies and at the same time make full use of the range of course offerings in International Relations.  Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh is uniquely placed to deliver such an interdisciplinary programme. We offer excellence and research expertise in European Studies, Territorial Politics, Comparative Politics, Public Policy, International Political Economy, Security Studies, Gender and Global Ethics. Check out our staff profiles for an overview of various specialisms present in the department.

The MSc International and European Politics (IEP) Programme Handbook contains information about the aims and the scope of the programme, key contacts and the time line for the academic year.  Please contact the Programme Director if you have any queries.

European Politics in a Global Context

The study of European Politics in an international context is more topical than ever: the refugee crisis, the fate of the Schengen system of borderless travel, and ongoing debates about redistribution and burden sharing between old and new member states are but some of the major challenges facing Europe today. Not to mention the 2016 referendum on EU membership that took place in the UK which saw their debate on EU membership result in a vote to leave the EU.

The Global Financial Crisis has had a detrimental impact on European economies, particularly in the South. The ensuing Eurozone crisis also dealt a great blow to public trust in European institutions and policies, which has led some to argue that the 'European project' is in steady decline. Despite these perceptions, the EU/EEA is still the largest, and – arguably – the most powerful trading bloc in the world. The policy making responsibilities of the organization have indeed continued to grow in the face of these challenges. 

European integration serves as a powerful example of how, in a globalised world, cooperation has become less of an option than an imperative. On their own, states frequently lack adequate instruments to tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our time: trade, capital, ideas, people, technology, information, disease and crime all flow more freely, leading to problems that are transnational in nature. They transcend national borders, and thus, necessitate multilateral solutions.

70-80% of legislation in any EU member state is influenced by decisions and legal provisions at the European level. Legislation and policies agreed by the EU member states in turn have global significance in virtually all areas of International Relations. European and the global dimensions intersect vividly in many current policy debates, including the regulation of the global financial system, UN reform, new sources of conflict such as resource scarcity, climate change and migration, global inequality, poverty, energy security, transnational terrorism and religious extremism.

To understand these challenges and to be able to address them, we must first comprehend how the EU works and what it does, what the role of the Member States is and how other cooperative arrangements come into play. We must explore the history of European integration and international relations, and how they have been studied and theorised over time. This programme will enable you to achieve these goals while also helping you to further develop your research, writing, critical thinking, analytical and communication skills.

European Practitioner Pathway

Launched in 2015, we offer the option for students to embark on the 'European Practitioner Pathway' within the programme that allows them to do a practical work placement as part of their degree and write a work-based report and project diary in the place of a more traditional academic dissertation. The pathway can provide valuable experience in subject-specific professional workplaces, and offer opportunities to explore more policy-focused perspectives. 

Eligibility for this option as well as the schedule and organisation of the work-based projects are explained in the MSc International and European Politics Programme Handbook (see main programme page). Please note that the University of Edinburgh does not set up placements for students but will instead assist students in securing their own arrangements with a host organisation.

Annual Study Trip to Brussels

One of the fundamental components of the programme is our annual study trip to Brussels. Travel and accommodation costs are part-subsidised by the European Parliament (NOTE: for  the 2018-19 intake, these subsidies can no longer be guaranteed, due to Brexit taking effect in March 2019). The trip features bespoke visits to the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU, European External Action Service, NATO's operational or political headquarters as well as visits to non-governmental organisations, lobbying or consultancy firms or think tanks based in Brussels.

The trip also includes a unique opportunity to meet former graduates of the University of Edinburgh, many of whom have graduated from this programme and since settled into a variety of related careers in Brussels. Having built successful careers in Europe’s capital, they are expertly placed to advise on challenges and opportunities of pursuing a career in an international context like in Brussels. This Networking Event ties in with the career building support we offer throughout the year as part of the programme (see Student Development) and the career advice services available at the university.

Programme Structure

  • Two 10-11 week terms of lectures and seminars (September to December and January to March-April), followed by a four month period of dissertation research.
  • Three courses each term.
  • Two compulsory courses on the Institutions and Policies of the European Union and Analysing European Governance and Public Policy. 
  • Four optional courses: normally one in term 1 and three in term 2.
  • A 15,000 word dissertation or work-based placement report, prepared under the guidance of an academic member of staff. 
  • Credit weighting: Each course counts for 20 credits and the dissertation counts for 60 credits, with a total of 180 credits.

Bologna Compatibility

Like all University of Edinburgh Masters programmes, the degree is fully Bologna compatible, and is recognised across Europe and beyond under the principles of the Bologna framework. The programme comprises 180 Edinburgh credits, which are equivalent to 90 ECTS credits.

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