School of Social and Political Science

MSc Global Challenges (Online Learning)

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The deadline to apply for September 2024 entry is Monday 15 July 2024.

Almost eight billion people on one planet

The challenge of how almost eight billion people can live well on one planet can only be understood and tackled effectively by taking multiple perspectives and drawing on a range of disciplines.

Our MSc Global Challenges is a multi-level online programme that offers distinct qualifications following successful completion of each of the three stages.

Each stage, a postgraduate certificate in its own right, takes a multidisciplinary approach to global challenges from its own distinct perspective.


Studying all three stages gives you a comprehensive insight into the global challenges and develops and broadens your skills and knowledge to tackle them effectively. As you progress through the programme you will integrate your learning from each certificate you study, adding depth and richness to your experience.


Our MSc in Global Challenges allows you to study flexibly at a pace that suits you. You can complete the three stages in any order you wish.

There is no dissertation element: each postgraduate certificate provides opportunities for you, in discussion with academic staff, to develop innovative projects as part of your assessment.

The MSc in Global Challenges is normally completed over three to five academic years and is awarded by the School of Social and Political Science.

Career opportunities

This programme will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed for work with:

  • governments
  • non-government organisations (NGOs)
  • international aid organisations
  • United Nations agencies
  • the private sector
  • universities
  • other research institutions

The transferable skills you gain in areas such as communication and research will give you an edge in the employment market, whatever your career.

Online learning

Due to the highly flexible nature of this programme, it is an excellent way for those with professional or family commitments to gain a further qualification with minimum interruption or to introduce students to a virtual learning environment.

Our award-winning online learning technology is fully interactive, enabling you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.

You will learn through a mix of online methods, including video lectures, study guides, self-directed and guided reading, and a range of interactive online reflection and discussion activities. You will be part of a vibrant and supportive virtual community.

Our online students not only have access to Edinburgh’s excellent resources, but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

Studying online at Edinburgh

More information on postgraduate online learning

Reading recommendations

If you're looking to get started on some provisional reading before your course begins, we recommend the following: 


  • Agarwal, B. (2014). Food sovereignty, food security and democratic choice: Critical contradictions, difficult conciliations. Journal of Peasant Studies, 41(6), 1247-1268.
  • Banerjee, S. B. (2008). Corporate social responsibility: The good, the bad and the ugly. Critical sociology, 34(1), 51-79.
  • Moyo, S. (2007). Land in the political economy of African development: alternative strategies for reform. Africa Development, 32(4).
  • Ouma, S. (2014). Situating global finance in the land rush debate: A critical review. Geoforum, 57, 162-166.
  • Sen, G. (2019). Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment: Feminist Mobilization for the SDGs. Global Policy, 10, 28-38.
  • Wilson, K. (2017). Re-centring ‘race’ in development: Population policies and global capital accumulation in the era of the SDGs. Globalizations, 14(3), 432-449.


How to apply

Apply here

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode 
MSc 3 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MSc Up to 6 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees

Student testimonials

Hear why our online MSc Global Challenges student Christina Samson decided to study online with the University of Edinburgh. Learn how she has struck her ideal work-study balance. 


Hear more from our students and graduates about studying with us:

MSc Global Challenges (Online Learning) testimonials