Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) is an attractive home for development studies, not just because of its experience and expertise in international studies, but also because of its location in Brussels, the site of various development institutions and agencies at the core of the field.
The programme improves your critical understanding of contemporary issues in development and provides practical tools for a future engagement. It considers theoretical, practical and ethical issues by interrogating development discourses, objectives and effects, and by seeking to understand forms of inclusion/exclusion and intervention in societies.
Issues covered include economic development, poverty eradication, legal empowerment, public-private partnerships, social entrepreneurship, trade and privatisation, informal economies and finance, and technological initiatives. It also provides you with an interdisciplinary approach to development and to allow you to specialise in your field of interest, such as development economics, development and migration, development and conflict, or human rights.
BSIS attracts an exceptionally diverse and active student body that shares an enthusiasm for engagement in global affairs. Our students come from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas; many have spent extended periods abroad and/or worked for development institutions. An important forum is the International Development Group, which meets regularly to discuss personal experiences, debate issues in development, invite guest speakers, attend conferences and workshops, and also organise conferences.
The programme is suitable for students seeking to understand the field of international development as well as for practitioners who have substantive experience. It provides conceptual tools and practical skills for a variety of careers in international affairs.
After their studies at BSIS, our students engage in careers in international affairs, including international organisations, NGOs, international business and research institutions across the globe.
Staff and students share their insights and experiences of the International Development Master's.
We are committed to offering flexible study options at BSIS and enable you to tailor your degree to meet your needs. This programme is available with start dates in September and January; full- and part-time study options; split-site options, and students can combine two fields of study leading to a degree that reflects both disciplines.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- key empirical and theoretical issues in different approaches to international development
- the various actors and institutions involved in the formation and implementation of development policy, including an appreciation of how they operate and interact both internationally and on the ground
- the various theoretical, historical and ideological perspectives that underlie academic debates in the field of development
- the interplay of economic, political and legal institutions, structures, and policies in development policy
- the changing role of development issues in the context of the wider study and practice of international affairs, with reference, for example, to trade, energy policy, capital market regulation, migration, security, conflict, human rights, and environmental concerns
- how to apply general theoretical and conceptual frameworks to the analysis of specific issues in international development.
- how to design and write a substantial scholarly paper, demonstrating familiarity with academic and professional conventions.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- gathering relevant information and accessing key sources by electronic or other means
- evaluating issues according to their context, relevance and importance
- formulating arguments on central issues and areas of controversy, and the ability to present a reasoned opinion based upon relevant materials
- recognising potential alternative arguments, and contrary evidence, to your own opinion and presenting a reasoned justification for preference
- demonstrating an independence of mind and the ability to offer critical challenge to received understanding on particular issues
- reflecting constructively on your learning progression
- designing and writing a substantial scholarly paper demonstrating familiarity with academic and professional conventions.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- a systematic understanding and critical awareness of the nature and significance of international development
- the ability to appreciate and evaluate the main theoretical perspectives that underlie international development policy and the controversies surrounding it.
- a critical understanding of the tools and techniques used to frame and measure the effectiveness and success of development projects
- the ability to reflect critically on your own aspirations and ambitions in the intellectual and cultural context of development policy
- the ability to critically understand the place and role of international development in the context of wider international politics, including issues of international political economy, security, migration, human rights, and the environment
- an awareness of the limitations of present knowledge in the field and of the matters needing to be resolved by further research.
You gain the following transferable skills:
- communication: the ability to communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing (including, where appropriate, the use of IT), organise information clearly and coherently, use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information, including, where appropriate, statistical or numerical information
- information technology: produce written documents, undertake online research, communicate using email
- working with others: work co-operatively on group tasks, collaborate with others and contribute effectively to the achievement of common goals
- improving your own learning: explore your strengths and weaknesses, time-management skills, review your working environment (especially the student-staff relationship), develop autonomy in learning, work independently, demonstrate initiative and self-organisation
- important research management skills include the setting of appropriate timescales for different stages of the research, with clear starting and finishing dates (through a dissertation), presentation of a clear statement of the purposes and expected results of the research, and developing appropriate means of estimating and monitoring resources and use of time
- problem-solving: identify and define problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them.
The programme aims to:
- provide a postgraduate qualification of value to those intending to pursue a career in the field of international development
- provide a detailed knowledge and a high level of understanding of a range of specialised subject areas
- provide access to a range of disciplinary perspectives on international development, in the framework of an interdisciplinary graduate school with cognate programmes in international relations, conflict analysis, international law, and migration studies
- provide a sound knowledge and systematic understanding of the institutional structures and policy fields of international development
- provide a degree of specialisation in areas of international development of individual interest from among the range of options that are available and which require you to engage with academic work that is at the frontiers of scholarship
- encourage you to develop a critical awareness of the discourses and practices associated with the field of international development, particularly in contexts which are perceived to be controversial or in a state of evolution
- provide you with a research-active learning environment which gives you a good grounding in the study of the contending approaches and issues in international development, and allows you to place the subject in its proper context within the broader field of international studies
- encourage you to develop critical, analytical, communicative and problem-solving skills which can be applied to a wide range of contexts (transferable skills).
- develop skills in the written presentation of arguments in a manner which meets relevant academic conventions
- contribute to widening participation in higher education by taking account of past experience of applicants in determining admissions whilst ensuring that all students that are admitted possess the potential to complete the programme successfully
- develop your general research skills and personal skills (transferable skills), in particular through a substantial dissertation.