Master in Human Geography/Sustainable Development


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

This programme is aimed at those who have secured a PhD research place in Human Geography or Sustainable Development at St Andrews and who desire or require a year of research training before progressing to their PhD.

Applicants must apply to the School of Geography and Sustainable Development to secure a PhD place in the first instance.

Those who have not secured a PhD research place may be interested in the taught MSc in Sustainable Development programme instead.

The MRes in Human Geography/Sustainable Development is a one-year, full-time taught postgraduate programme run by the School of Geography and Sustainable Development.

The programme is aimed at those looking to progress to PhD research in Sustainable Development or Human Geography within the School. The fixed programme offers a broad grounding in research design, theoretical approaches, and quantitative and qualitative research methods. Students also receive bespoke training in professional skills and research design specifically tailored to their own research interests.


  • This MRes course is approved by the ESRC and the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science.
  • Students are taught generic research skills by experts from social science disciplines across the University.
  • You will receive one-to-one training with prospective PhD supervisors.

Teaching format

During the taught portion of the programme, students take six compulsory modules, four of which are taught via lectures, tutorials, seminar presentations, and practical exercises, and two via one-to-one tutorials. Modules are assessed through written examinations and coursework including class tests, presentations and essays.

Over the course of the programme, but with a particular focus during the summer month, students will research and write a 15,000-word dissertation.


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment.


  • Advanced Social Science Research Training 1: Reviewing, Conceptualising, Framing: deepens your understanding of your field of special interest and develops your ability to review the work of others and conceptualise and frame your own.
  • Advanced Social Science Research Training 2: Designing Planning, Implementing: deepens your understanding of methodology specific to your special interest and develops your ability to design, plan and implement a research project.
  • Being a Social Scientist: explores the fundamental skills required by all social scientists and prepares you for the research dissertation and professional development.
  • Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences: introduces the basic theoretical approaches in the social sciences, encouraging you to make connections between the methodological and epistemological issues involved in conducting social scientific research.
  • Qualitative Methods in Social Research: offers both a theoretical and practical introduction to the collection, analysis and writing of qualitative social science research.
  • Quantitative Research in Social Science: a user-friendly introduction to the fundamental concepts of quantitative analysis.


The dissertation offers the opportunity for students to complete a 15,000-word research project that acts as a pilot for their PhD research (in terms of one or more of topic, site, methods, questions etc). Advised by a member of academic staff, you will work across the summer months on your individual dissertation.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2019 entry.


Graduates from the Human Geography/Sustainable Development MRes pursue many different professional careers including:

  • sustainability in business management, engineering, planning, transport, waste, energy or environmental management.
  • sustainability research and policy consultancy.
  • international development.
  • sustainability advisers to supra-national bodies such as the United Nations, World Bank, European Union, and the OECD.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Entry requirements

  • A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree in a subject-related area and the offer of a PhD place within the School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
  • If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.
  • English language proficiency.

The qualifications listed are indicative of minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

Applicants should first secure the offer of a PhD place within the School of Geography and Sustainable Development by emailing the PhD postgraduate secretary, Helen Olaez, at with the following:

  • CV.
  • at least 500 words of original, referenced writing, detailing a specific project proposal and identifying a potential supervisor (see School staff pages).
  • identified source of funding – see scholarships for research postgraduates.


Recent Graduate Discount

The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.

Last updated Apr 2020

About the School

As a 600-year-old institution, it's no surprise that the University of St Andrews is known across the globe as a world leader in education. We are Scotland’s best university ranked by the Complete Uni ... Read More

As a 600-year-old institution, it's no surprise that the University of St Andrews is known across the globe as a world leader in education. We are Scotland’s best university ranked by the Complete University Guide 2019, and 2nd overall in the UK (Guardian Good University Guide 2019). Read less
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