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Human Geography/Sustainable Development (MRes) 2020 entry

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.

Course type

Postgraduate, leading to a Master of Research (MRes)

Course dates

  • Start date: 7 September 2020
  • End date: 30 September 2021

Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Course duration

One year full time

Entry requirements

The qualifications listed are indicative 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.

Tuition fees

UK and EU: £9,450
Overseas: £19,400


Application deadline

Wednesday 12 August 2020. Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

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:

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

Course information

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 particular focus during the summer months, students will research and write a 15,000-word dissertation.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2019–2020 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2020 entry.

  • 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: focuses on how to design and produce a research dissertation and addresses issues of professional development (e.g. ethics, careers, grant writing).
  • Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences: introduces students to the basic theoretical approaches in the social sciences, covering 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: an 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 2020 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

Visit St Andrews

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at a visiting day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.

Find out more

Virtual events

Join our Admissions team for one of our upcoming virtual events. During these events, you can find out more about studying at St Andrews and what it will do for your future.


Conferences and events

The School of Geography and Sustainable Development's vibrant research culture is reflected in an extensive programme of events including seminars and conferences, in addition to the regular meetings organised by the research clusters and centres


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. 

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships. 

After the MRes

Research degrees

After the successful completion of your MRes you will progress to enrolling in a PhD programme at St Andrews.

PhD funding opportunities are available from the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science.

PhD in Geography and Sustainable Development


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.


School of Geography and Sustainable Development
University of St Andrews
Irvine Building
North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2894

Geography and Sustainable Development website


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online (PDF, 84 KB).

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