School of Social and Political Science

MSc Africa and International Development

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The deadline to apply for September 2023 entry is Friday 30 June 2023.

Join Edinburgh's world-class Centre of African Studies

Our masters students have the opportunity to join the inclusive group of world-class scholars that make up Edinburgh's Centre of African Studies (CAS).

The Centre of African Studies is an internationally recognised hub for research and teaching on Africa, within the prestigious School of Social and Political Science.

We are one of the oldest and largest African Studies centres in Europe and we pride ourselves on undertaking a diverse range of cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research.

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Understand global challenges, forge regional expertise

Our course offers you a unique opportunity to acquire a combination of interdisciplinary, regional expertise with a critical knowledge of international development theory and practice.

We pride ourselves on enabling outstanding students to reach their full potential, as we challenge them to critically explore cutting-edge issues and debates in a supportive and inclusive environment.

The training we provide gives students a competitive edge whether they choose to pursue development jobs in the region or continue in research.

Test new skills, gain work experience

At the end of the course, our graduates should have a deep understanding of development dynamics and their implications for diverse societies in Africa, and how international thinking and politics shape various aspects of development policy and research within and outside the region.


The programme is available on a full-time basis over one year or on a part-time basis over two years. Our programme is incredibly flexible to allow you to pursue the knowledge and skills most relevant to you.

Core courses

Our three carefully designed core courses ensure that you acquire the knowledge foundations and professional skills required to work professionally in the field of international development.

Option courses

To that we add a variety of designated course options to allow students to develop specialised profiles as development professionals.

Independent research

Finally, you will build specialist research and analytical skills through a dissertation length research project. You will work under the supervision of an academic member of staff and will investigate a topic of your choice in depth.

You can either complete your dissertation through independent study, or through a work-based placement. These work-based placements offer some students the opportunity to work in a wide range of development organisations across Africa for eight weeks, enabling you to apply academic training to real-world problems.

Our extensive network of partners in the UK and a large number of African countries (including Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania) includes:

  • NGOs
  • charities
  • social enterprise,
  • think-tanks
  • government bodies

This gives you the chance to acquire key skills and practical, first-hand experience of working in international development in the continent.

Career opportunities

With a multidisciplinary grasp of issues in regional and international development, many of our graduates have in the past secured work as professionals in:

  • international organisations
  • development agencies
  • international consultancy firms
  • governmental departments
  • non-governmental organisations
  • public sector
  • academia

We want to continue to make such opportunities available to you by providing increased access to them.

With a multidisciplinary grasp of issues in regional and international development, many of our graduates have in the past secured work as professionals in:

  • international organisations
  • development agencies
  • international consultancy firms
  • governmental departments
  • non-governmental organisations
  • public sector
  • academia

We want to continue to make such opportunities available to students by providing increased access to them.


International students from Africa are eligible for these scholarships:

The Catto Combined MSc and PhD Scholarships

One (1) full scholarship for suitable female applicants from Africa to study for an MSc in Africa and International Development and subsequent PhD in African Studies or, where more suitable, go directly into a PhD. Read more about The Catto Scholarships.

Nyerere Postgraduate Scholarship

The Nyerere Scholarships provide funding for talented Tanzanian students to follow in Nyerere’s footsteps and study at the University of Edinburgh. Through the generous support provided by a donor, the Centre of African Studies will offer a one-year postgraduate scholarship to a student domiciled in Tanzania to study a Masters-level programme in the Centre of African Studies. Find out more about the Nyerere Scholarship.

Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program

The Scholars Program at the University of Edinburgh will provide postgraduate on-campus scholarships to students from Africa with great academic and leadership potential but few educational opportunities. Read more about the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.

Henry Anumudu (2022 Africa and International Development) has been named winner of the 2023 Being Edinburgh alumni award. Henry is a former Mastercard Foundation scholar at the University. Since graduating, he has shown commitment to creating educational opportunities for children from low-income communities, and established the not-for-profit organisation Sharing Life Africa, supporting thousands of young people to get the most out of their education.  Read more about Henry's experience.

Applying and tuition fees

Application fee

This programme requires non-refundable application fee of:

  • £50

This must be paid after you submit your application. Your application will not be processed until we have received your application fee.

If you are accepted for the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, we will waive the application fees to enable you to apply*. To request a fee waiver, please email:

*(Revised 16 October 2020 to specify you must be accepted for the MasterCard Program before you can request a fee waiver.)

Tuition fees

Award Title Duration Study mode Tuition fee link
MSc Africa and International Development 1 Year Full-time Tuition fees
MSc Africa and International Development 2 Years Part-time Tuition fees


Reading recommendations
  • Fanon, F., Sartre, J.P. and Farrington, C., 1963. The wretched of the earth (Vol. 36). New York: Grove Press.
  • Mkandawire, T., 2001. Thinking about developmental states in Africa. Cambridge journal of economics25(3), pp.289-314.
  • Nugent, P., 2012. Africa since independence. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Sabaratnam, M., 2017. Decolonising Intervention: International Statebuilding in Mozambique. Rowan & Littlefield
  • Shipton, P., 2010. Credit between cultures: farmers, financiers, and misunderstanding in Africa. Yale University Press.
  • West, H., 2005. Kupilikula: governance and the invisible realm in Mozambique. University of Chicago Press.

Here are some broader texts on international development that intersect with the debates above:

  • Cornwall, A. and Whitehead, A., 2007. Feminisms in development: contradictions, contestations and challenges. Zed Books.
  • Jad, I., 2008. The Demobilization of Women's Movements: The Case of Palestine. AWID (Association for Women's rights In Development).
  • Kothari, U. ed., 2016. A radical history of development studies: Individuals, institutions and ideologies. Zed Books.
  • Loomba, A., 2015. Colonialism/postcolonialism. Routledge.
  • Wilson, K., 2013. Race, racism and development: Interrogating history, discourse and practice. Zed Books Ltd..
Additional information

Postgraduate community

The Centre of African Studies plays host to a vibrant community of staff, researchers and postgraduates.

Our PhD researchers are integral to our community; many are affiliated to research projects, regularly present at international conferences and publish in top international journals. Several have also won awards for their research.

Besides academic activities Centre members engage in a wide range of other activities, from football to language training, barbecues (or braais), taking part in reading and cultural groups, field trips and retreats. We provide a challenging, dynamic, supportive and tightly-knit environment for you.

Each of our PhD researchers belong to at least one of the research themes within the Centre of African Studies, and possibly also to other research clusters within the School. We encourage students to participate in our research group activities.

Students at CAS form a dynamic group, all studying different topics and countries but linked by their interest in Africa. You are encouraged to become active members of the Centre, participating in conferences, seminars, research projects and contributing to our publication profile.

Senior research students are often involved in course planning and teaching, which helps in equiping them for future academic careers. Our research graduates are highly employable, many remain in academia, some become researchers in Africa and elsewhere and all develop skills which allow them to work anywhere in the world.


We also participate actively in Africa-focused events in Edinburgh, such as panels highlighting contemporary African authors at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (the world's largest book festival) and the UK's largest African Film Festival, Africa in Motion.

International Development is concerned with the pursuit of 'good change' but who gets to decide what that 'good change' is? Or how it should happen? We explore this whilst deepening your regional expertise on Africa, in all its socio-cultural, political and economic diversity.