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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


MSc Placement-Based Dissertations

MSc Placement-Based Dissertations

Students on selected MSc programmes are eligible to apply to complete an 8-10 week research project with an external organisation. During this placement, students will undertake a specific, short-term research assignment, which will then inform their MSc dissertation.  For the academic year 2020/21 research projects with UK and international partners will take place on an online basis only in the first instance.  It may be possible for projects to have an element of on-site research, however, this will be dependent on University guidance regarding placements and covid-19 for Semester 2 and if the organisation wishes to offer on-site provision. 

Students should assume that placement-based dissertations, either sourced by SWAY or student-led will take place remotely.  Current University guidance (as of November 2020) may allow students to travel overseas for on-site placement-based dissertation projects with organisations providing students meet several approval criteria.  Similarly, based on current University guidance a student residing outside of the UK may be able to conduct a field-based placement, either sourced by SWAY or student-led in their country of residence.  Permission to do so must be sought from the Work Placement Advisor two months prior to the start of the placement.   

Eligible programmes:

  • Africa and International Development
  • Comparative Public Policy
  • Global Environment, Politics and Society
  • Global Health Policy
  • Global Mental Health and Society
  • Health Policy
  • International and European Politics (student-led placements only)
  • International Development (on-campus & online)
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Public Policy
  • Science and Technology in Society
  • Social Research
  • Sociology and Global Change

The Work Placement Advisor based in the Study and Work Away service (SWAY) in Edinburgh Global coordinates this activity and works closely with members of staff in the School of Social and Political Science including the Student Development Office (SDO).  The Work Placement Advisor, Rachel Parks, can be contacted by email

Putting Learning in to 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 (advertised-placements)


  • Propose and arrange their placement - following consultation with their Programme Director and the Work Placement Advisor (student-led placements) 

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