Programme Structure

The MSc in Latin American Studeis equips students to pursue further study in one or more of the many areas: in the Humanities Literary and Visual Studies and/or in the Social Sciences Anthropology, Politics and International Relations adopting Latin America as case study. There are four tracks within the programme depending on the selection of courses: 1. Anthropology 2. Literature and Thought 3. Politics and International Relations  4. Visual Culture Students can take this programme as a diploma, a stand-alone one-year full-time or two year part-time Master's degree (but immigration regulations prevent overseas students from studying part-time), or as a first step towards an M.Phil. or Ph.D. (subject to admission to a Ph.D. programme either at Aberdeen or elsewhere).

Students are expected to study over two semesters. In semester one, one compulsory module provides an introduction to key themes in Latin American Studies. In the second semester, students on the MSc will take two options from a series of courses to run simultaneously, as well as one /or/ two core courses on the connections between culture and society and politics and International Relations in Latin America. Students for the PgDip will take three options. Each student will take courses worth 60 credits in each semester. Assessment methods vary from course to course but will include essays, reports, presentations and written examinations. MSc students are required to write a dissertation of 12-15,000 words in English. Students who do not wish to write a dissertation will graduate with a diploma.

The subject is likely to appeal to those who wish to create a solid foundation on which to build a Ph.D. research proposal in any one of the constituent disciplines or in an area that overlaps two or more of them, and to those who wish to continue to work in the field in their subsequent careers, either in academia or to enter employment as researchers in fields outside the academy, such as branches of the media, or organisations concerned with aspects of human welfare and development, where the knowledge and skills cultivated by the programme are in demand.


Themes in Latin American Studies

Course co-ordinator: Dr Andrea Oelsner ( )

This core course illustrates the inter-disciplinary nature of the MSc in Latin American Studies, and it also performs a number of key functions in the degree programme. Firstly, the course introduces students to a variety of disciplinary approaches to Latin American Studies, including those of anthropology, history, literary and cultural studies, and politics and international relations. This serves to illuminate a wide range of aspects of Latin American life. Secondly, it enables students to make an informed choice for an elective course for the second semester of their MSc, laying the groundwork for those elective courses as well as for the Dissertation that will subsequently be written. In order to do this, the course is divided into two parts (1) an overview of politics and international relations in Latin America and (2) an overview of cultural and social issues in Latin America.


Culture and Society in Latin America

Course co-ordinator: Dr Maggie Bolton (

This course builds on and provides a greater in-depth coverage of issues of culture and society in Latin America than the MSc core course ‘Themes in Latin American Studies’. This course will cover a wide range of topics from the anthropology of indigenous and non-indigenous societies to colonial and modern history and contemporary literature and film. This diverse range of topics will also introduce students to a wide range of disciplinary approaches to Latin American Studies, especially those of anthropology, of history, and of literary and cultural studies. Students can choose to take either this course or ‘Politics and International Relations of Latin America’, or they can also take both courses.


Latin America: Security Conditions and Challenges

Course co-ordinators: Dr Andrea Oelsner ( and Dr Mervyn Bain (

The course will study international, domestic, cultural and ideological factors in contemporary Latin America, and pose analytical, empirical and ethical questions relevant to the region. The course aims to introduce students to the nuances and complexities involved in studying security issues in contemporary Latin America, but also politics and international relations in the region. Its main themes will include narco-terrorism, ‘failed’ and ‘rogue states,’ dependency theory, liberation theology, revolutions, populism and neopopulism, democratisation, debt and globalisation, regional integration, the region’s international relations, and the study of the Latin American subregions.


Dissertation (MSc in Latin American Studies)

Course co-ordinator: Dr Mervyn Bain (

Students who meet the necessary requirements proceed to the 12-15,000-word dissertation, which is a compulsory part of the MSc in Latin American Studies. The dissertation enables students to gain experience in formulating, designing and pursuing independent research on a topic of the culture, society, politics or international relations of Latin America, subject to approval of the teaching staff. Students will be prepared for their dissertation by the core and elective courses of the MSc programme, by a dissertation-writing seminar, and by individual supervision throughout their dissertation.

Course Documentation

Current postgraduate student profiles

Testimonials from previous students who successfully completed the MSc in Latin American Studies now the MSc

HILARY FRANCIS: After studying history at the University of Edinburgh, I worked on the East Asia team at Amnesty International, and as a human rights accompanier with CAIG Guatemala. More recently I was Programme Officer for the Democracy Network of the e-Parliament, an organisation which brings parliamentarians together to work on issues of global interest. I have just returned from a year in Nicaragua and am particularly interested in Nicaraguan and Central American politics.

EWAN ROBERTSON: I graduated at the University of Aberdeen in July 2009 with an M.A. History - International Relations degree with first class honours. I was also awarded the Caithness Prize for History for achieving the highest mark for history honours for my graduation year. In addition, after receiving the highest acheivable grade, my history dissertation has been submitted by the university to the Royal Historical Society/History Today UK Undergraduate Dissertation competition.This year I hope to pursue my academic interests in U.S. foreign policy, democracy, development and human rights in Latin America, while using the interdisciplinary aspects of the MSc to their full potential. My aspirations in the longer term are to pursue PhD research on U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and the wider world.

IAN ROSS:  I was awarded a College studentship to undertake my studies in the MSc Latin American Studies having completed my MA in Hispanic Studies (University of Aberdeen, 2009). My interests include literature and Visual Culture. Due to my previous life as an engineer I also have an interest in the effects of technology on society and how this is reflected in art and culture.

SYLWIA SZYMANSKA: I studied in Poland at the Faculty of International Relations which directed my interests towards political and social affairs in the area of Latin America. I was an active participant in the academic forum and I wrote the dissertation on the topic of The Relations of European Union with Joint Market of the South (Mercosur/Mercosul). I am especially interested in the problem of the efficiency of development aid in the area of Latin America. Therefore by deciding to undertake Postgraduate Programme at the University of Aberdeen, I expect from my course to extend my knowledge in the area. I hope that the experience gained at the university would create a fundamental step in my future career.

PhD students working in the field of Latin American Studies

FRANCISCA SANCHEZ is currently completing her PhD on the XIXC writer Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton in the contect of recovery projects of Chicano writer in USA, she is supervised by Dr Nerea Arruti.

HILARY FRANCIS is currently completing her PhD on Nicaragua in the 1980s, she is supervised by Dr Mervyn Bain.


Dr Mervyn Bain
Politics & International Relations
School of Social Science
University of Aberdeen · King's College · Aberdeen AB24 3QY
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