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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


MSc Placement-Based Dissertations

(Basic Overview)

Current students interested in undertaking a placement should visit the Information for Students page

Graduate students on selected MSc programmes are eligible to apply to an 8-10 week placement with an external organisation. During this placement, students will undertake a specific, short-term research assignment, which will then inform their MSc dissertation.

Putting Learning into Practice

Placement-based dissertations provide excellent opportunities for students to think through theoretical ideas in real world contexts and to gain transferable skills through applied, practical experience with host organisations.  

Students can either:

  • Choose from projects that have been organised by the University of Edinburgh


  • Propose and organise their own placement - following consultation with their Programme Director and the Student Development Office (

Previous work project assignments have seen students produce briefing papers, literature reviews, project progress reports, field monitoring reports, grant proposals, annual reports, policy documents, and field-based research outputs.

Global Projects

In 2016/17 the Student Development Office offered over 100 placements with organisations based in Asia, Africa, Europe and the United Kingdom.


  • September-December - Sourcing placements
  • December - Majority of placements advertised
  • January - Any further placements advertised
  • Late-January - Applications due
  • February & March - Placement selection panel meets and placement interviews arranged, successful candidates notified
  • March/April - Preparatory reading and communication with host organisation
  • May-June - On placement
  • July-August - Working on dissertation

Students on relevant programmes may choose to set up their own placement.  Any students wishing to do this should consult with the Student Development Office.