Connecting research and learning

The University of St Andrews is renowned for the quality and impact of both its research and teaching.

Across the University, interdisciplinary research focuses on six priority areas:

  • peace, conflict, and security
  • cultural understanding
  • evolution, behaviour, and environment
  • materials for the modern world
  • health, infectious disease, and wellbeing
  • sustainability

The Graduate School for Interdisciplinary Studies' Masters degrees are aligned with these priority research areas and each degree draws on the expertise of researchers working in one or more of these areas. Seminars led by subject experts from different disciplines allow students to connect with researchers and to learn how that research is shaping thinking in their subject.

Module assessments provide training in research and enquiry skills, helping students to develop the capabilities needed for independent research. These assessments culminate in the end of degree project. The project takes the form of a period of supervised research where students explore a topic in depth. Through the project students demonstrate their ability to plan and manage a substantial research project, to apply relevant methodological techniques, and to analyse and present research findings.

All Graduate School Masters degrees include an integrated training programme. The training programme connects students' academic learning with the development of professional competencies, in particular skills in communicating academic concepts and research to different audiences.

Programme coordinators

Programme coordinators draw on their own research experience in developing Graduate School Masters degrees:

Margaret Leighton
MSc International Development Practice, Coordinator

Margaret trained as an economist and her primary areas of research are education economics and development economics. Her work uses data to answer policy-relevant research questions.

In addition to her economics research, Margaret collaborates with interdisciplinary partners in academia and beyond.

She has worked with Save the Children on education projects in Tanzania, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. Margaret has collaborated on research projects looking at genetics, wildlife biology, psychology and population health, among other things. Her research and evaluation work with Save the Children is particularly relevant to the MSc in International Development Practice, while her experience working across disciplines provides a background for synthesising the diversity of insights academic fields and the ways in which this can help us understand international development.

MSc in International Development Practice


Silvia Paracchini, FRSE FRSB
MSc Digital Health, Co-Coordinator

Silvia is interested in how genes and genetic variants contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders, such as dyslexia and language difficulties.

The heterogeneity of the clinical manifestation of these conditions poses a key challenge for genetic studies. Silvia's research group tackle this issue through a multidisciplinary approach. They work with a network of clinical collaborators for detailed clinical assessment and are part of several international projects that allow sharing data and expertise for large scale projects, including genomic screenings. More recently Silvia's group has worked with colleagues in the School of Computer Science to use machine learning methods for the analysis of their data.

The application of data analysis methods to medical questions is directly relevant to the MSc in Digital Health which explores how healthcare is being transformed through data analysis and digital technologies.

MSc in Digital Health