School of Social and Political Science

MSc Sociology and Global Change

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Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines for this programme. See 'how to apply' below for the application deadlines.

Take your place at one of the leading international centres of excellence for postgraduate study in Sociology

Edinburgh is one of the leading international centres of excellence for postgraduate study in Sociology. This intensive one-year Masters programme gives you the opportunity to study with leading specialists in a range of research areas with a global reach. The research of our faculty covers Europe, the Americas (including Latin America), Africa, the Middle East, and South and East Asia (including India and China).

Our areas of expertise include:

  • migration, refugees and displacement
  • environment and sustainable development
  • the sociology of globalization
  • genocide and ethnic conflict
  • gender, emotions, intimate and family life, and transnational families
  • global financial markets, economic sociology and global capitalism
  • human rights and citizenship
  • social movements and global inequalities
  • cultural sociology and global popular culture
  • digital labour, big data and social networks

The study of sociology is highly relevant to those seeking to effect social change, whether in personal life or on a wider scale as activists, managers, practitioners or policy makers. It also offers a more specialist education to those seeking to pursue social research and routes to PhD programmes.

This programme provides core teaching in the ideas and approaches of sociology as applied to understanding social order and social change globally and internationally. It explores the local impacts of global processes, and the global impacts of local processes.

During this intensive, one-year programme you will explore these processes by developing your own research agenda, both in coursework and in a supervised dissertation project of your own choice.

The programme presents sociology as the study of a dynamic and globalising world, around such areas as:

  • environment and sustainable development
  • migration, refugees and displacement
  • the sociology of globalisation
  • gender, emotions, intimate and family life
  • global financial markets, economic sociology and global capitalism
  • social network analysis
  • social movements and global inequalities
  • human rights and citizenship
  • digital and global popular cultures

You will join an academic community led by international experts working on global topics, in one of the UK’s best departments for research and teaching.

The MSc in Sociology and Global Change programme offers the possibility of undertaking eight-week work-based projects with local, national and international organisations, as part of the dissertation research. Work-based dissertations offer a unique opportunity to partner with organisations worldwide, enabling students to apply academic training to real-world problems. Our extensive network of partners includes NGOs, charities, social enterprise, think-tanks and government bodies.

Edinburgh Sociology is host to a vibrant intellectual and postgraduate student life. There are regular seminars with international scholars, and postgraduates present their work at an annual conference, New Directions in Sociology, in addition to our bi-annual Global Ethnographies showcase of the work of students on the programme. 


You will be introduced to key sociological debates in the context of globalization and global capitalism and you will critically engage with conceptual and research design issues that will allow you to better understand some of the most pressing global issues of our time from a sociological perspective. You will be able to set your own sociological research agenda in relation to global and international issues.

When you complete the degree you will:

have a comprehensive overview of key theories, research themes and approaches to understanding global social change from a sociological perspective;

be able to design, conduct and present a substantial piece of empirical or theoretical research; and

be able to contribute to key debates in the specific areas you have chosen to study through the optional courses and in your dissertation.

This MSc programme also provides a conversion course for those from a variety of academic backgrounds, and we welcome students from all subject areas, and with diverse topics of interest. The degree gives an overview of Sociology, and offers training in the core elements of the discipline, social theory and social research, as well as access to a suite of more specialist courses and an opportunity to conduct your own independent research on a topic of your choosing.



You will take compulsory courses that give you a sociological perspective and prepare you for independent dissertation research.

Your four further option courses can address global topics, social theory and research training, depending on your background, experience in research and interests.


The dissertation, a piece of self-designed research with supervisory support, allows you to put your personal stamp on your studies. It is an ideal chance to get to grips with an issue that fascinates you, and excellent preparation for further graduate level study.

Career opportunities

This programme is extremely relevant if you are seeking employment in consultancy, the public sector, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, the private sector or think-tanks, or as an academic, practitioner or policy maker.

Past students have gone on to undertake roles in:

  • development and international aid
  • the public sector
  • academia/think-tanks
  • migration
  • NGOs
  • environment and conservation law 
  • journalism
How to apply

Please note that we expect applications to evidence:

1. A clear research interest within one or more of the areas covered by the MSc

2. Capacity for independent academic work

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

Application Deadlines

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines.

We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.

Please ensure that you have submitted all supporting documentation and paid the application fee before the deadline for the round you wish to be considered in.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2024-2025:

RoundApplication deadlinePlaces awarded by
11st December 20234th March 2024
219th February 202425th April 2024
322nd April 202427th June 2024
43rd June 202431st July 2024
Reading recommendations

Pre-arrival reading

It's always good to lay groundwork. You might want to read some books from this list to help get ready for the programme:

  • Bronfenbrenner, Kate. 2007. Global Unions. Challenging Transnational Capital Through Cross-Border Campaigns. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  • Cowen, Tyler. 2002. Creative Destruction. How Globalization Is Changing the World’s Cultures. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Harvey, David. 2006. Spaces of Global Capitalism. Toward a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development. London: Verso.
  • Hironaka, Ann. 2008. Neverending War. The International Community, Weak States, and the Perpetuation of Civil War. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Jensen, Nathan. 2006. Nation-States and the Multnational Corporation. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Kreiger, Joel (ed.) 2006. Globalization and State Power: A Reader. New York: Routledge.
  • Livi-Bachi, Massimo. 2006. A Concise History of World Population. Wiley.
  • Mann, Michael. 2012. The Sources of Social Power, Volume 3: Global Empires and Revolution, 1890-1945, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Mann, Michael. 2013. The Sources of Social Power, Volume 4: Globalizations, 1945-2011. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Osterhammel, Juergen and Nils Petersson. 2005. Globalization. A Short History. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Pieterse, Jan Niederveen. 2009. Globalization and Culture. The Global Mélange. Lanham MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Ray, Larry. 2007. Globalization and Everyday Life. Routledge.
  • Ritzer, George. 2011.  Globalization: The Essentials. Wiley-Blackwell. Sassen, Saskia. 2001. The Global City. New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Sassen, Saskia. 2008. Territory, Authority, Rights. From Medieval to Global Assemblages. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Stiglitz, Joseph E. 2003. Globalization and Its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton.
  • Therborn, Goran. 2011. The World: A Beginner's Guide. Polity Press.
  • Wallerstein, Immanuel. 2004. World Systems Analysis. An Introduction. Durham NC: Duke University Press.
  • Waters, Malcolm. 2001. Globalization. Routledge.


Student Testimonials

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