School of Social and Political Science

MSc Global Mental Health and Society

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The deadline to apply for September 2024 entry is Monday 1 July 2024.

What role does social science play in mental health and well-being?

Mental health and well-being are crucial global health and social welfare policy concerns with significant resources and research devoted to this area. This inter-disciplinary postgraduate programme offers you opportunities to develop critical perspectives on global mental health policy, practice and research, space for creating transformative possibilities and tools for conceptual and practice innovation.

Global mental health is emerging as a hybrid academic discipline with academic training programmes, journals, textbooks and research consortiums – primarily in the UK and the USA, but also in Canada and Europe. Much of this activity has been situated in psychiatry and public health disciplines – with a growing body of scholarly work from other professional and social science disciplines including medical anthropology, social work, international development, and clinical psychology.

Social sciences and global mental health

The role of the social sciences in global mental health is crucial to:

  • further critical understandings of how conceptions of ‘distress’ and ‘mental health’ are socially, culturally and politically constructed in different contexts
  • theorising the intersections between social and economic development and mental health
  • developing effective inter-disciplinary approaches to addressing the mental health-development interface

The programme is aimed at both professionals with backgrounds in social work, international development, public health, psychology, nursing and medicine as well as graduates in health studies, psychology, social anthropology, international development and other relevant disciplines.

The following open access article, co-written by Global Mental Health and Society faculty provides a useful introductory reading for students interested in the programme:

Chiumento, A. MacBeth, A. Stenhouse, R. Segal, L. Harper, I. and Jain, S. (2024) : A vision for reinvigorating global mental health. PLOS Global Public Health


There is increasing global and local policy emphasis on ‘standardised’ and ‘evidence-based’ approaches to mental health care, which in doing so, potentially neglect three important dimensions, namely the diversity of understandings of what constitutes ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’, the complex social, cultural and political dynamics that shape psychological distress and the transformative value of inter- and trans-disciplinary ways of thinking about and engaging with mental health.

This programme will engage you in these current debates and dilemmas. It will focus on the culturally, politically, and socially situated conceptualisations of mental health and address the implications of these multiple understandings for effective policy and practice in the global south and north.

Graduating from this programme will enable you to:

  • critically engage with key conceptual and policy debates in global mental health, applying contextually appropriate perspectives
  • apply concepts, theories and methods from a diversity of disciplines (e.g. social work, medical anthropology, clinical psychology, psychiatry and development studies)
  • independently apply, integrate and critically reflect upon different disciplinary approaches to global mental health
  • critically assess complex societal issues from an open-minded, reflexive and reasoned perspective
  • communicate effectively with a variety of audiences
  • critically apply the knowledge acquired to inform future global mental health programmes, practice, policies and research

The programme will be taught by world-leading experts from Edinburgh's Global Mental Health Research Network, drawing together multiple disciplines including: medical anthropology, social work, psychology, and trans-cultural psychiatry.

You will also engage with key overseas collaborators of the Network through video, case studies and guest lectures.

The MSc in Global Mental Health and Society is offered as one-year full-time or two-year part-time programme. The programme consists of 180 credits, comprised of:

  • 3 x 20-credit required core courses
  • 3 x 20-credit optional courses

You will complete six courses over two semesters from September to April. Three of these will be compulsory core courses.

Optional courses

The other three courses are options. These may be selected from across the University, drawing on the expertise of faculty members within social and political sciences, clinical psychology, health in social sciences, and public health amongst other disciplines.


From May to August you will complete either a work-based project or a standard research dissertation.

Work placements

Practical experiences can complement teaching in the classroom. An integral part of this programme are work-based projects.

These consist of eight weeks of research with a host organisation in Africa, South and South East Asia, the Middle East, Latin America as well as in the UK.

Our extensive network of global mental health partners include local and global non-government organisations (NGOs) and research organisations.

Career opportunities

This qualification will be help prepare you for careers in global mental health policy, implementation, and research. You would also be qualified to undertake similar careers with the UK health sector.

How to apply

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode 
MSc 1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MSc 2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees


Undergraduate contact

The School of Social and Political Science sits within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.  All enquiries and applications relating to undergraduate admissions to the School are handled by our College. Please contact:

CAHSS Undergraduate Admissions
University of Edinburgh
57 George Square
Edinburgh, EH8 9JX

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 3565