School of Social and Political Science

Postgraduate study at SPS



The Graduate School at SPS

The School of Social and Political Science (SPS) was established to promote interdisciplinary collaboration across its various subject areas and research centres.

SPS has around 1700 undergraduate students, over 800 postgraduate taught (online and on-campus students) and around 230 research postgraduate students. The meeting place for cultures and experiences that the School provides is a valuable part of the educational experience that we offer.

The Graduate School of Social and Political Science is an interdisciplinary hub providing advanced postgraduate education and training in the social sciences. It forms the postgraduate division of the School of Social and Political Science.

Research excellence

SPS is one of Europe’s leading centres of research in the social sciences. In the 2014 Research Assessment Exercise, well over 70% of the School's research was rated as world leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*), and each of the four units we submitted came top of its field in Scotland.

Our interdisciplinary structure fosters vibrant research that cut across traditional social scientific boundaries to bring together experts from across the School and the University. The School has a long tradition of sharing knowledge and engaging in public policy debates within Scotland, Europe and beyond.

With numerous faculty members coming from across the world, and many dynamic international research collaborations, the School’s connections span the globe.

Our research has attracted around £20 million in external grant funding over the past four years, including large grants from the Economic and Social Research Council, EU Framework Programmes and the Leverhulme Trust.

Career opportunities

Graduates of MSc and PhD degrees in Social and Political Science have gone on to pursue an enormous range of careers, in governmental, non-governmental, educational and commercial institutions across the globe.

While many become academics, others work as policy advisers or social researchers to European, African, Asian and North American governmental and inter-governmental bodies.

Significant numbers work in human rights campaigning roles, become journalists, join commercial professions such as law or finance, or become politicians or civil servants.

SPS Postgraduate Opportunities brochure

Find out more about postgraduate study at the School of Social and Political Science in the 2021 postgraduate brochure:

School of Social and Political Science Postgraduate Opportunities brochure – 2021

Our global community

The University of Edinburgh has a strong international reputation, and the Graduate School of Social and Political Science continues to attract a very diverse international body of students.

In the academic year 2020/21 we have over 800 postgraduate taught students. Approximately 75% of these students came from outside the UK, from around 75 different countries.

We've asked some of these international students about their experience:


Edinburgh Global

Edinburgh Global provides a dedicated resource to help all new and continuing students who come to Edinburgh from outside the UK.

Details of the services they offer can be found on the Edinburgh Global webpages.

Life in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a city for life: a city you'll love to live in and a city you'll love to return to. Studying here means you will always be at home in Edinburgh.


The city centre is beautiful, safe and compact, with almost everything within walking distance - making it the perfect place for a vibrant student community.

There’s something for everyone here. Sporting and cultural activities including theatre, film, dance, comedy, football, rugby, and Edinburgh’s world famous festivals. Numerous bars, clubs, cinemas, theatres and music venues give you a choice of places to meet up with friends.

If you want to take a break, the city is full of parks and green spaces for you to sit back and relax in.

The city centre is surrounded by a dramatic landscape, including the famous Edinburgh Castle; and its Georgian and Victorian architecture and winding medieval streets make it easy to see why Edinburgh has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

t has the largest collection of historic buildings, museums, art galleries and theatres of any city in Scotland, and is home to the Scottish Parliament.

Find out more about Living in Edinburgh.


Information relating to accommodation for postgraduates can be found on the University Accommodation website.

Social events

The Graduate School typically organises a number of social and fundraising events throughout the year.  In past years this has included events such as those listed below.

Welcome Ceilidh

In the first few weeks we hold a Ceilidh to get everyone, students and staff, together. You can find out more about exactly what this involves over at Ceilidhs on Wikipedia

Christmas Party

Held in the Chrystal Macmillian Building, the Christmas party features a buffet, singing of traditional Christmas songs from our SPS Choir (new singers welcome) and a chance to talk, mingle, network, drink and be merry with your fellow students as well as staff.

Burns Supper

Every January we host a Burns Supper. A Burns Supper is a traditional Scottish celebration in honour of the poet Robert Burns. We eat, drink listen to speeches and have a good time.


Accepting your Offer

Offers are accepted (or declined via) the Applicant Hub.

Accepted offers can be declined at a later stage if your circumstances change, but you must email as soon as possible so that they can action this for you.

Meeting the conditions of your offer

We strongly recommend you provide all the required information and documents to make your offer unconditional as soon as you can after obtaining them.

Many other deadlines or critically important things are affected by offer status - such as visas, applying for accommodation, flights, and funding - so the earlier an offer can be made unconditional, the easier the processes will be.

Please note that the deadlines for providing all the required information and documents to make the offer unconditional for entry in September 2021 are:

  • Campus-based Programmes: 1 August 2021
  • Online Distance Learning Programmes: 15 August 2021

Document upload

You should upload your documents directly to your Applicant Hub.

Please note that you can only upload files of 2MB or less. If your file is larger than 2MB please reduce the file size appropriately and then reupload the file.

English language requirements

If you are holding an offer that is conditional on English language, please note we are not able to accept any scores below our minimum entry requirements, even if it is just in one section.

The scores stated are the absolute minimum, and we cannot accept anything below this. These scores must have been achieved in the same sitting, and we are not able to combine scores from different tests.

Immigration/CAS letter/Tier 4 Visa

For information on CAS please see:  Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies

For all questions about visas and CAS please contact the University's Student Immigration Service

Tuition fees

All queries relating to tuition fees must be directed to the University Fees Team.


If you wish to apply for accommodation you must hold an unconditional offer.

The deadline to apply for guaranteed accommodation is 31 July. You may still apply after this date but accommodation cannot be guaranteed.

To find out more visit the Accommodation website, call +44 (0)131 651 2042 or email

Welcome Week

Further details will be sent to you about this during August.

Programme information

You will receive further details about preparing to join us and your programme leading up to September. Please check your email regularly for updates from us.

Postgraduate Information Sessions

Don't worry if you weren't able to join us for our virtual information sessions, they were recorded and are now available for you to watch at your leisure. Simply click on the links below.

Sessions took a range of formats, from interactive presentations to taster sessions and live question-and-answer sessions.

See below for recordings of each session on:

  • an overview of the Graduate School
  • an introduction to the support available from the Student Development Office
  • specific programme sessions led by Programme Directors

Session recordings

Overview of Postgraduate Study in Social and Political Science (video)

Discover more about our taught masters programmes across areas including: Global Health, International Development, International Relations, Politics, Policy Studies, Science & Technology, Social Anthropology and Social Welfare.

Student panel session

Wondering what it's really like to be a student at Edinburgh? Don't miss our Student Panel. Our students will give you an insight into their experience.

Our students, the best-placed people to tell you what it's like to study here, took centre stage in a panel-based session where you can hear all about their student experience in Edinburgh.

Student Panel (video)

Introducing the Bioeconomy and Science and Technology in Society session

An overview of the topics covered by the masters degrees MSc Science and Technology in Society and MSc Management of Bioeconomy, Innovation and Governance.

Introducing the Bioeconomy and Science and Technology in Society (video)

Studying with the Global Health Policy Unit session

The Global Health Policy Unit (GHPU) is a cross-disciplinary team of academics who are committed to addressing contemporary major global health policy challenges.

This session introduces you to our MSc programmes. These programmes offer an interdisciplinary approach to the study of public health problems with a distinctive focus on policy.

Studying with the Global Health Policy Unit (video)​

MSc Global Mental Health and Society - Interdisciplinary perspectives session

Our interdisciplinary MSc Global Mental Health and Society offers students 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.

MSc Global Mental Health and Society - Interdisciplinary perspectives (video)

MSW - Master of Social Work - exploring a dynamic course and profession

This session will provide an overview of the two-year Master of Social Work at the University of Edinburgh.

You will learn about approaches to learning and teaching on the course, hear about innovative links with our practice partners and find out more about graduate destinations.

MSW - Master of Social Work - exploring a dynamic course and profession (video)

Introducing MSc Medical Anthropology session

This session gives an overview of the core and optional courses available to MSc Medical Anthropology students, indicating major questions and debates engaged within these courses.

It discusses dissertations as an important part of this MSc and the opportunities for students to benefit from a pool of highly acclaimed medical anthropologists in the Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology (EdCMA).

Introducing MSc Medical Anthropology (video)

Introducing MSc Social Anthropology 

This session provides an idea of what the MSc Social Anthropology covers, who it might be for and why you might want to take it.

Introducing MSc Social Anthropology (video)

MSc Africa and International Development and MSc International Development
MSc Africa and International Development (AID)

International Development is concerned with the idea of 'good change' - but who decides what constitutes good change? How should such change happen? What unintended consequences might the pursuit of change create?

Our MSc in Africa and International Development encourages you to critically explore these questions, in the context of Africa.

MSc International Development (ID)

The MSc International Development On-Campus engages critically with international development thinking and practice and more broadly with processes of social, political and economic transformation throughout the global south.

MSc Africa and International Development and MSc International Development (video)

MSc Public Policy and MSc Comparative Public Policy programmes

This session provides information on the Public Policy & Comparative Public Policy MSc programmes.

The Programme Directors provide a brief introduction to the main purposes of the programmes and their structure in terms of courses, followed by a Q&A session.

MSc Public Policy and MSc Comparative Public Policy programmes (video)

MSc Social Research - Programme Information Session

Programme Director Sophie Haines provides an insight into the MSc Social Research (including MSc Social Research with Quantitative Methods Pathway), followed by a Q&A.

MSc Social Research - Programme Information Session (video)

Digital Social Sciences at The University of Edinburgh

This session will introduce you to the MSc in Digital Society, a one-year taught MSc that enables you to investigate the increasing prevalence of digital technology, digital infrastructure and data production, capture and analysis in everyday life.

Digital Social Sciences at The University of Edinburgh (video)

MSc in International Relations 

The most pressing issues the world faces, from Covid-19 to climate change, are global in nature and need international responses.

This session highlights both the theoretical and empirical aspects of international relations taught in this MSc, and how these provide insights on international politics.

MSc in International Relations (video)

Introducing MSc Global Environment, Politics and Society (MSc GEPS)

This session provides an overview of our programme's aims and content. It will give you an idea of the course structure and core courses.

It will also highlight key features, including the programme’s work-based placement scheme and the extracurricular activities available. It will also provide an overview of the career paths and destinations of our alumni.

Introducing MSc Global Environment, Politics and Society (MSc GEPS) (video)