School of Social and Political Science

MSc Nationalism in Global Perspective

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

Nationalism is one of the most powerful social forces of the modern era. It influences political, economic, and environmental crises; amplifies religious and ethnic conflicts; contributes to the development of democracies and dictatorships; and inspires cultural achievements and demands for recognition. Pressing issues of populism, political polarisation, identity politics, border and sovereignty disputes, are all infused with the logic of nationalism.

The Nationalism in Global Perspective MSc/Diploma is an inter-disciplinary programme designed to give students a theoretically informed and empirically grounded understanding of nationalism as a global phenomenon, while also being tailored to their specific interests within the field.

A unique perspective

At the University of Edinburgh we have a unique perspective on this subject. While we are deeply engaged with the debates on the national question and identity in Scotland and the UK, we nurture a global outlook on the study of nationalism. Our programme is a recognised pioneer in the field of nationalism studies, with a rich legacy that includes graduates who have become prominent nationalism scholars and have contributed to the establishment of the University of Edinburgh as the major centre for the study of nationalism.


Our most basic aim is to provide you with a stimulating and intensive experience of intellectual inquiry into the phenomenon of nationalism in a global perspective.  Along the way we seek to help you further develop your skills involved in posing meaningful questions, articulating viewpoints, exchanging ideas, conducting research, and communicating effectively through various media.

Specifically our programme aims to:

  • give a sense of the inter- and multi-disciplinary nature of nationalism studies.
  • provide a thorough grounding in the central concepts and major theories of nationalism.
  • help develop a comprehensive view of the ideas and key figures in the field.
  • convey the need to understand nationalism in the context of long-term, historical social change.
  • identify key issues and problems in comparative and case study approaches to the study of nationalism.
  • provide explorations of a variety of substantive cases of nationalism in global perspective, helping students to think concretely about the phenomenon.
  • enable students to carry out substantial independent research and write a dissertation on a topic of your interest within the field.

The Programme consists of 180 credits, comprised of:

2 x 20-credit required core courses                                                                                                              4 x 20-credit optional courses                                                                                                                      a 60-credit dissertation course

You will complete six courses over two semesters and a dissertation.

Core courses

Students must take these core courses:

* Theorising Nationalism (PGSP11579) - 20 credits

* Comparing Nationalisms (PGSP11580) – 20 credits

* Dissertation (MSc/Dip Nationalism in Global Perspective) (PGSP11054) - 60 credits

This first course provides a comprehensive introduction to major theories of nationalism. The second course, on the other hand, focuses on how nationalism is studied and draws upon a wide range of global cases. The two core courses provide a coherent shared foundation for dissertations.

The dissertation offers you the chance to choose and explore a topic in-depth, working with the guidance of an academic supervisor. It is an ideal chance to get to grips with an issue that fascinates you, and excellent preparation for further graduate level study.

Course options

Group A: Recommended Electives

Students should select at least 40 credits of the following courses:

* Nations and Nationalism (PGSP11146) - 20 credits

* Ethnopolitical Conflict (SCIL11036) – 20 credits

* Identity and Conflict in Multinational States (PGSP11599) – 20 credits

* Populism, Identity Politics and Democracy (tbc) – 20 credits

These courses are recommended by the Programme Director and will have priority enrolment for students on this programme.


Group B: Additional Electives

Students should select between 0 and 40 credits of the Level 11 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W.

Additional information

Broad expertise

Nationalism in Global Perspective is co-hosted by the Department of Sociology and the Department of Politics and International Relations. Students of the programme benefit from the proximity to high-profile centres specialising in issues relevant to the study of nationalism in the UK and around the world and with close links with the policy and media world (RACE.ED, Centre on Constitutional Change, Centre of Canadian Studies, Centre for South Asian Studies, Centre for Constitutional Law).

A stimulating research environment

This stimulating research environment offers students of nationalism a range of opportunities to engage with leading international scholars and practitioners in the field through a range of seminars, conferences, and workshops.

Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism

Our programme is also closely linked with the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN). Indeed, the University of Edinburgh has hosted the first ‘regional’ branch of the Association and one of our faculty, Professor Jonathan Hearn, is the current President of ASEN.

Reading recommendations

If you're looking to get started on some provisional reading before you arrive in Edinburgh, we recommend the following:

  • Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined Communities: Reflections On The Origin and Spread Of Nationalism. Verso.
  • Balakrishnan, G. (Ed.). (1996). Mapping the Nation. Verso Books.
  • Berger, S., & Storm, E. (Eds.). (2019). Writing the History of Nationalism. Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Breuilly, J. (Ed.). (2013). The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Gellner, E. (1983). Nations and Nationalism. Basil Blackwell.
  • Guibernau, M., & Hutchinson, J. (Eds.). (2001). Understanding Nationalism. Polity.
  • Hearn, J. (2006). Rethinking Nationalism: A Critical Introduction. Palgrave.
  • Hutchinson, J., & Smith, A. D. (Eds.). (1994). Nationalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • McCrone, D. (1998). The Sociology of Nationalism. Routledge.
  • Nairn, T. (1997). Faces of Nationalism. Verso.
  • Özkirimli, U. (2010). Theories of Nationalism: a critical introduction, 2nd edn, Macmillan.
Tuition fees
Tuition fees
AwardTitleDurationStudy mode 
MScNationalism in Global Perspective1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScNationalism in Global Perspective2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
How to apply

We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. 

Everything you need to know about the application process and additional details for this programme is available here:

Application information

Application fee

A non-refundable application fee of £50 must be paid after you submit your application. Your application will not be processed until we have received your application fee.