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About the Islands and Small States Institute (ISSI):

Founded over 30 years ago, the Islands and Small States Institute (ISSI) of the University of Malta offers a wide range of internationally distinguished island development  focused courses. These are of significant benefit for individuals who are intent on helping to shape sustainable island communities of the future, especially those from Small Island Developing States (SIDS). 

There are a variety of factors that attract students to attending ISSI, including being able to study a multidisciplinary programme that looks at the economic, social, and environmental aspects of SIDS, the excellent standard of teaching staff, the focus on the geographic aspects of island states, the flexibility of learning, the diversity of students taking the courses, the holistic approach to studying islands, and the ability to utilise distance learning. 

Malta itself is also another compelling reason for students to choose to attend ISSI. It is a cosmopolitan island nation with an incredible history, diverse culture and warm, sunny climate, and as noted by many of the university’s students, can provide important lessons to small island states across the world. 

The University of Malta is a highly prestigious educational institution which was founded over 250 years ago, adding an even greater appeal to studying at ISSI. The impressive body of research conducted at ISSI since it was founded, has placed the University of Malta as one of the few world-class teaching and research institutions of topics relating to islands and small states. It is also the only university in the world offering doctoral degrees in this subject. 

Courses at the Islands and Small States Institute:

As of October 2022, ISSI will be offering the following study options, fully online or blended:

Master of Arts (Research on Islands and Small States) – full-time

The programme is designed to enhance your knowledge on islands and small states matters. The course is intended to be inter-disciplinary and will relate to economic, social, environmental and political issues associated with islands and small states. The different study units offered by the programme are designed to strengthen your capacities to understand and identify the advantages and constraints associated with small country size and insularity. 

Click here to learn more and apply.

Master of Arts (Research on Islands and Small States) – part-time

Click here to learn more and apply.  

Doctor in Philosophy (PhD) – full-time & part-time

Research-based doctoral studies at UM provide students with the opportunity to pursue substantial independent research on their own under the guidance of their supervisors, who are experts in their field of research. Successful doctoral theses must, among other things, display evidence of substantial and original research, lucid and scholarly presentation, and a sound knowledge of the general field within which the thesis falls. 

Click here to learn more and apply. 

Find out further information about studying at ISSI by clicking here

It is important to highlight that both the Master of Arts (Research on Islands and Small States) (full-time or part-time), and PhD programme can be studied fully online or in blended form (in-person and online). This new way of learning, driven by both technology and the global pandemic, presents an excellent opportunity for potential students living in SIDS, as it means they no longer need to leave their island to be able to study at the ISSI. 

Island Innovation founder, James Ellsmoor, completed his own Master’s in Island Studies via distance learning and after graduating went on to co-found a non-profit organisation and later start Island Innovation. Since its inception, Island Innovation has grown an international online community of thousands of islanders, reaching them through large-scale virtual events which are designed to bring about positive change through education. This is a testament to the importance of online learning and to the power it can have in helping to shape the future.

The courses offered by the Islands and Small States Institute present a superb opportunity to develop talent and leadership within SIDS communities. These individuals will be able to use their new knowledge to put in place policies that will truly benefit the places that they have grown up in and help these communities to gain agency over their own future development.

Scholarships at the Islands and Small States Institute:

We are excited to share the news that the Maltese Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs (MFEA), in collaboration with the ISSI, is providing scholarships for students who are nationals of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) eligible for Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Citizens of the following countries are eligible: Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Cabo Verde, Comoros, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Federated States of Micronesia, Montserrat, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, São Tomé and Principe, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

For the Academic Year 2022/23, the MFEA will be offering two scholarships for students reading for a full-time Master of Arts (Research on Islands and Small States). Selection criteria, among others, include past academic achievement and quality in the research proposal. 

Furthermore, the University of Malta is also offering scholarships for the waiving of tuition fees, including for Doctor in Philosophy (PhD) students: access this link for full details. Browse through this website to learn more about entry level requirements.

Stefano Moncada, Director of the ISSI, stated that “these scholarships are part of a recent collaboration agreement between the University of Malta and the Maltese Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs. It allows students from Small Island Developing States to engage in our postgraduate research and study in a centre of excellence specialising in Islands and Small States Studies. This will not only contribute to their individual academic and professional development but, we hope, also to the broader sustainable development of their respective countries. We believe this is a brilliant opportunity for the Maltese Government and for the University of Malta to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and the promotion of development cooperation scenarios which are a win-win for all.”

How to apply and deadlines 

Interested candidates are encouraged to contact the ISSI’s team on islands@um.edu.mt at their very earliest, in order to discuss admission requirements, scholarship eligibility and their research proposal. Deadlines to submit expression of interest is 29 April 2022, for the application is 31 May 2022.

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