Data, Inequality and Society MSc, PgDip, PgCert (Online Learning) The University of Edinburgh
What makes societies inclusive? How do data practices describe, amplify or confront problems of marginalisation and inequality?
This new MSc programme from the Edinburgh Futures Institute brings advanced, cross-disciplinary knowledge together with sectors and experts who are committed to building inclusive and equitable global societies.
Inequality and exclusion lie at the heart of the ‘wicked problems’ that societies face today. You will learn to identify and address them through a collaborative approach that offers a critical and empirical exploration of the causes and consequences of inequalities in societies around the world.
The programme offers you flexibility and choice in the way you study, supporting you to develop advanced knowledge of the ways in which data practices can exacerbate inequalities but also support projects and policies of inclusion.
You will develop your own understanding and ability to lead in building future inclusive societies by:
- working with leading-edge knowledge
- applying insights to a project you care about
- developing essential creative and practical skills to support your work
You will have access to sector experts and leading researchers addressing how we build and sustain more equitable societies. By supporting you to engage critically, this programme will help you develop your ability to lead positive change.
Postgraduate Study at the Edinburgh Futures Institute
This programme is part of an interconnected portfolio of postgraduate study at the Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI). EFI supports interdisciplinary teaching, learning and research that is focused on complex global and social challenges.
Our programmes are all taught by academic experts from many different subject areas. As an EFI student, you will develop creative, critical and data-informed thinking that cuts across traditional disciplinary boundaries. You will have the space to think deeply about questions linked to your own passions and professional goals, and will develop a project based on an issue that you care about.
As well as knowledge specific to your area of study, studying at EFI will give you the skills and understanding you need to become a creative, confident and critical citizen in a fast-changing world. These will include:
- core data skills
- data ethics
- the ability to interrogate issues of global scope
- the creative and analytic approaches to knowledge that are vital for building better futures
You can join us regardless of whether you already have skills in the use and application of digital data.
The EFI model (which we call ‘fusion’ teaching) allows students to study on a fully online basis, or to combine online with on-campus study.
Since online and on-campus students study together, and we want to provide flexibility to move from on-campus to online study, we charge the same tuition fee levels for online study as for on-campus study.
The University of Edinburgh is currently ranked 15th in the World in the QS World University Rankings 2023.
On successful completion of this programme, you will be able to:
- characterise and analyse the extent and dimensions of social inclusion in any given institutional and human situation
- design creative solutions for improving the inclusiveness of programmes, projects and policies, across sectors
- draw on and combine different disciplines/viewpoints when analysing the inclusiveness of societies and designing solutions
- work efficiently on complex projects of inclusion, together with teams that are diverse and values-driven
- draw fully on data in all above endeavours, maintaining a critical stance on data production and usage
All students will develop a solid understanding of data-driven decision-making in international and local development. They will possess the analytic, research, and creative skills to approach challenges in new, robust, and data-informed ways.
Recent graduates will be well placed to enter the job market as ‘translators’ between data scientists and people operating at strategic or operational levels – likely roles include private, public, and third-sector project, programme, and policy advisers, analysts, and coordinators.
For students with prior professional experience, the programme will support career development (and transition) as leaders in new or existing projects with a strong data and/or inclusion aspect.
The core elements of the programme address the data and higher-order skills we know are important for the future of work, confident and critical citizenship, and a thriving, just society.
Students on the programme study the following:
- A portfolio of EFI ‘shared core’ courses (40 credits) which teach the essential critical and hands-on data skills, enquiry methods, and ethical and creative capacities needed to underpin your programme-based studies.
- Core courses (20 credits) specific to your programme.
- A project (taking the form of a 20-credit ‘integration and project planning’ course, and a 40-credit final project).
- A wide choice of short 10-credit optional courses (60 credits), at least two of which must be on topics related to your programme, with scope to study across the entire EFI portfolio.
You will take the following 10 credit core courses for your programme:
- Exclusion and Inequality. The course engages with interdisciplinary social science theories to explore how exclusions and inequalities are created and sustained and what effects they have on diverse societies.
- Inclusive Society. The course explores, through the analysis of different types of data, concrete examples of inclusive projects initiated by the government, private sector, and civil society.
You will also take the following 10 credit shared core courses, which are compulsory for EFI students on all programmes:
- Interdisciplinary Futures
- Insights Through Data or Text Remix (choose one)
- Ethical Data Futures
- Representing Data or Building Near Futures (choose one)
These shared core courses place you in cross-disciplinary teams with students from other programme areas. They will teach you to collect, manage and analyse computational datasets, and to use emerging methodologies for mapping and designing the future. They will also teach the fundamentals of data ethics while supporting you to use your creative skills in the analysis and representation of data-informed and qualitative inquiry.
EFI offers a wide portfolio of about 40-50 optional courses taught by academic staff from across many discipline areas including approximately six to eight courses on topics associated with your programme.
The exact courses will vary from year to year. In 2023-24, the courses associated with your programme may include:
- Data Science for Society
- Power, Data and Inequality in Value Chains
- Work Futures
- Indigenous Futures
- The Coloniality of Data
- Data and Design for a Post-Covid City
- Migration and Forced Displacement in a Digital Age
Optional courses from across the wider portfolio will cover a range of themes and topics, such as:
- critical perspectives on how new technologies are changing society
- data, programming and research skills that advance the skills taught in the EFI shared core
- how new and rapidly changing technologies and data sources are transforming the future of democracy
- what the future of education might look like
- how narratives drive the way we understand the world
- bringing service design and service management together to build change in a data-driven society
- current challenges and futures for the creative industries
In your final project, you will be able to apply your learning in depth to a domain, issue or concern which drives you. It could be:
- based on your own personal or professional interests
- defined by your employer
- sponsored by one of our EFI industry, government or community partners
- aligned to one of the EFI research programmes
You can submit your final project report as a written piece of work, or combine text with other forms as appropriate – video, visualisation, a digital artefact, performance, or code.
You will provisionally identify your project topic relatively early on in the programme, and work on it in parallel with the taught courses. We expect projects to take an interdisciplinary approach which connects with the creative, data and future-oriented nature of the EFI core.
Part-time and full-time options
Full-time students on the programme take these courses in one year.
Part-time students take the same courses as full-time students, over either two or three years:
- For the two-year version, students take 80 credits of courses in year one and 100 credits (including the project) in year two.
- For the three-year versions, students take 120 credits of courses over years one and two (with up to 80 credits per year in each year) and then take the project (60 credits) in year three.
Students can also study towards a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma:
- Students have two years to undertake the Postgraduate Diploma, taking the same taught courses as students on the MSc, but not the project. They will take a total of 120 credits of courses - between 40 and 80 each year.
- Students have one year to undertake the Postgraduate Certificate, taking 60 credits of courses, including between 10 and 40 credits of the EFI ‘shared core’ courses, between 20 and 50 credits of programme-specific courses (either the programme core courses or optional courses), and up to 30 credits from the broader suite of EFI optional courses.