School of Social and Political Science

MSc Global Environment, Politics and Society


Sandra Dorning


Sandra graduated in 2020, and was the winner of the 2020 Best Overall Performance in MSc Global Environment, Politics and Society (MSc GEPS). She writes about her decision to choose the MSc GEPS because of its focus on environmental politics at a global scale and her experience of studying it. 

MSc Global Environment, Politics and Society


Studying at the School of Social and Political Science

What made you choose to study at the University of Edinburgh?

I chose to study at the University of Edinburgh because I felt that the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society (GEPS) was unique among environmental politics programmes in the UK and that the courses it offered were particularly suited to my career interests.

I am specifically interested in international environmental politics, so the fact that Edinburgh offered a programme with a focus on environmental politics at the global scale was incredibly appealing.

I also expected Edinburgh would be a great city in which to live and study!

How have you enjoyed your programme?

I greatly enjoyed the GEPS programme, for a number of reasons:

The diversity of academic disciplines in which I have been taught to study environmental issues, the friendly and supportive instructors in this degree programme and in the School of Social and Political Science more broadly, the opportunity for students to conduct dissertation research following their interests within the field of environmental politics.

I found this programme has critically expanded my understanding of environmental issues and environmental politics.

Aims for after University?

After my degree I am interested in working at the intersection of marine science and policy to study and manage international marine environmental issues.

The GEPS programme at the University of Edinburgh has helped me both pursue and develop that ambition, serving as my second of two years of postgraduate study in the UK as a Marshall Scholar.

The GEPS programme has complemented my previous postgraduate studies in marine environmental management by allowing me to develop valuable social science research skills and to examine environmental politics at the global scale and in an international setting.

I have been able to study marine environmental issues from the perspectives of sociology, science and technology studies, political science, environmental governance, and law.

It has both prepared me for, and reaffirmed my interest in, working on international marine environmental issues as an interdisciplinary scholar.

For my GEPS dissertation research I studied an international environmental agreement of great interest to me: a new UN agreement addressing conservation and use of biodiversity in the high seas.

Conducting research on the negotiations of this agreement was an amazing opportunity for me to work on a very timely and relevant marine policy issue, and it allowed me to develop a strong foundation of expertise on this agreement which I hope I can apply to further work on this particular area of marine policy in the future.

If you recommend ONE thing to do in the first semester what would it be?

Once health and safety permits, I would highly recommend that students new to Scotland attend a ceilidh. I had so much fun attending two of these events during Welcome Week last year (one of which was hosted by SSPS), as they are a great way to meet new people and experience Scottish culture.

Don’t worry if you are a complete beginner on the dance floor – the ceilidhs I attended were friendly and supportive environments for newcomers to learn the dances!


The City of Edinburgh

What are your favourite things to do in Edinburgh at the weekend?

Perhaps my favourite thing to do in Edinburgh at the weekend was to explore new parts of the city! From walking to Craigmillar Castle, to exploring Leith and its cafes and outdoor market, there is so much to see and do both in the city centre of Edinburgh and beyond.

I also particularly loved walking in the beautiful Holyrood Park and taking in the spectacular views of the city and the Firth of Forth.