Global Development Challenges, Postgrad.Cert.

  • Application Deadline
  • 12 months
  • Tuition
    Tuition (Full programme)
    Tuition (Full programme)
  • English (take IELTS)
The University of Edinburgh Online
The courses in the programme offer innovative opportunities for thinking globally and locally while examining institutional debates that highlight complexities of policy, governance and social interaction at multiple levels of society, in both wealthier and poorer countries.
  • Overview
  • Programme outline
  • Key facts
  • Admission requirements
  • Fees and funding


The PG Certificate is delivered part time via distance learning through a mix of online modes, including video lectures that draw upon expertise from across the University, study guides, self directed and guided reading, and a range of interactive online reflection and discussion activities. Assessments include written essays, reports, case study activities and presentations. The PG Certificate adopts an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on expertise from across and beyond the University. It offers a flexible approach to personal and professional development and can be studied around your other commitments, including full time work, from anywhere in the world with internet access.

The programme can be taken as a standalone Postgraduate Certificate or as part of the MSc in Global Challenges. (If you wish to complete the MSc, the entry is by means of the Postgraduate Certificate.) The programme can be taken on a part-time basis.

Global governance, social marginalisation, human rights, regional conflict and security, livelihoods, health and human migration, national economic reform, donor aid strategy, international project evaluation, public-private sector partnerships for development and sustainable development policies are examples of some of the major themes explored in this Certificate, situating global development challenges in a range of contexts.

The PG Certificate comprises three courses, each worth 20 credits. Students must satisfactorily complete all three prescribed courses in order to complete the 60-credit Certificate. This Certificate can be taken as Continuing Professional Development (CPD) or as one of the three Certificates for the MSc Degree in Global Challenges.

Career Opportunities


This programme offers flexible study via distance learning and can be taken alongside a full-time job. It attracts students around the world with diverse interests, including those interested in working with - or already working with - governments, NGOs, international development and aid organisations, international health organisations, international environmental organisations, United Nations agencies, the private sector, charities, universities and other research institutions. The diverse group makes it an exciting network!

Skill Set

The Certificate will provide you with:

  • The analytical and conceptual skills to enable critical evaluation and investigation of global development issues
  • Training in comparative and development policy analysis
  • In-depth knowledge of the drivers, processes and contexts that shape global development

Programme Structure


Global Development Challenges

  • Globalisation, rapid technological change and constantly changing political and economic systems are linking the world together in hitherto unimagined ways. These new connections are both symptomatic of and drivers of emerging global challenges. Environmental change, climatic change, new health challenges, clashing beliefs and concurrent economic overconsumption and stagnation all point to the need for new ways of thinking about governance, priority setting and meaningful ways to affect change.
  • This course examines these global challenges and their implications for institutional decision-making and for society. Students in the course build skills analysing complex development issues in context and gain familiarity with concepts while debating policy options and constraints in global governance processes. Some of the key themes include inequality and poverty, conflict and social vulnerability, globalisation, human rights and national and global governance. Case studies in the course draw upon experiences in Africa, Asia and South America. The interdisciplinary nature of this course enables students to engage critically with the complex social, institutional and economic contexts in which governance takes place as well as apply that understanding to thinking about key global issues that face us today and in the future.

Politics and Theories of International Development

  • This course examines the politics and theories of international development by analysing the dominant and alternative social theories that seek to explain development outcomes and the actors and institutions involved. Students in this course gain familiarity with the major cultural, economic and political theories of overdevelopment and underdevelopment and the debates about these concepts internationally as well as related theories on modernisation and dependency.
  • Much of the focus in this course is on Africa but the examples have wider resonance throughout the developing world. The course enables students to analyse development from multiple points of view, promoting an understanding of the diversity and complexity of interactions amongst political, economic and social factors. By the end of the course, students are able to demonstrate knowledge of transformation in development policy paradigms over the course of recent decades and assess the local impacts of particular macro approaches to development in recent years.

Analysing Development

  • Development aid has played and continues to play a significant role in addressing humanitarian emergencies, funding social services, stimulating economic change and supporting the work of non-governmental actors. Yet it can have perverse effects, putting recipient states in a situation of dependency vis-à-vis their international sponsors, undermining public services while seeking to strengthen them, and even fuelling economic crises and political turmoil. This course provides a practical overview of international development assistance, and equips students with the knowledge and tools to critically assess the social and political effects of aid and the way aid policy is made and executed. Students reflect on a variety of case studies that are discussed in the lectures and the readings, and students also have the opportunity to bring in particular case studies that they wish to add and examine.
  • By the end of the course students will have gained familiarity with the major trends in development aid and the rationales behind aid. Students also will have learned how to engage critically with the complex social, political and economic contexts in which aid programmes are designed and delivered, and draw insights from experiences of local organisations working on the ground. Through a series of case studies that highlight debates concerning NGOs, aid agencies, governments, the private sector, United Nations organisations and other institutions internationally, students gain experience in the analysis of aid policy documents and strategies.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Full-time duration 12 months
  • Credits
    60 alternative credits


  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
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Test Scores

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UK Bachelor Honours degree with upper second class results (2.1), no references required.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your spoken and written English.

IELTS minimum score

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)

Other accepted tests and scores

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CPE: Grade B; CAE: Grade A

Tuition Fee Per Full Programme

  • GBP 4335 International
  • GBP 4335 EU/EEA


StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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