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The University of Edinburgh: Global Challenges (Online Learning)

Institution The University of Edinburgh View institution profile
Department School of Social and Political Science
Study type Taught


With almost 8 billion people on earth, and rising, how can we all live well without compromising the life support systems of our planet?

This unique and cutting-edge programme will enable you to tackle global problems in a multidisciplinary way. It will equip you to address causes, consider preventative approaches, and implement suitable responses.

Addressing complex global issues We live in an increasingly complex, often contradictory, fast-changing world:

  • we have experienced unprecedented economic growth but inequality grows between and within nations

  • we know more than ever about the natural environment, yet we may be on the cusp of irreversible changes caused by human activity

  • more people than ever before are living longer, healthier lives, while billions suffer from hunger, malnutrition and disease

Climate change, natural disasters, political instability, conflict and wars, mixed in with overpopulation, poverty and underinvestment in low-income countries are leading to a range of challenges on a scale and at a frequency not experienced before.

Challenges of migrating and vulnerable populations, emerging and re-emerging diseases, humanitarian crises and unprecedented urban development need a multidisciplinary approach with sustainability at the heart of it.

This programme is unique. It is made up of three postgraduate certificates which you can study in any order. Together they give you a lens on the drivers and causes of the different global crises we are facing, and strategies and tools to implement solutions and work in partnership with those who are leading change. The MSc comprises three Postgraduate Certificates:

  • PgCert Global Environment Challenges

  • PgCert Global Health Challenges

  • PgCert Global Development Challenges

You can study any one of the above individual Certificates as a standalone programme. You can also choose to study all three. Successful completion of all three of these Certificates leads to the award of the MSc in Global Challenges.

Three components that make up the MSc

The three stages of Postgraduate Certificate that make up the MSc are:

  • PgCert Global Development Challenges: Global Development Challenges considers the increasing economic, social and political inequalities in many parts of the world, and the need for new ways of thinking about and addressing development from a global perspective. The programme is offered by the School of Social and Political Science.

  • PgCert Global Environment Challenges: Global Environment Challenges considers how human activity is changing the natural environment at an unprecedented rate and the impact of this on human wellbeing and development. The programme is offered by the School of Geosciences.

  • PgCert Global Health Challenges: Global Health Challenges considers the connections between local and global health challenges, and our changing understanding of health and wellness in the context of the health of the planet. The programme is offered by the Usher Institute within the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.


Edinburgh. Extraordinary futures await.

The University of Edinburgh is one of the world's top universities, consistently ranked in the world top 50, and placed 22nd in the 2024 QS World University Rankings.

Our position as one of Britain’s leading research universities was reaffirmed by the results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, ranked 4th in the UK for research power (Times Higher Education, Overall Ranking of Institutions), with 90% of our research activity classified as world leading or internationally excellent in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

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