In the face of persistent global inequalities, a deepening climate crisis and polarised political debate on the role of overseas aid and investment, the challenges of international development have never been more pressing. Our MA International Development - taught collaboratively by the Departments of Geography, Politics and International Relations, Sociological Studies, and Urban Studies and Planning - provides you with the theoretical and practical knowledge to undertake careers in development research and practice in the public, private and third sectors.
The course is rooted in principles of interdisciplinary learning, decolonising knowledge, connecting theory with policy and practice. You'll also have the flexibility to tailor the course to you own interests.
Through this approach it offers a unique combination of academic excellence, tailored professional skills teaching, an optional field class, and a research-based dissertation (based on placements, research collaborations or independent research).
Core modules will teach you about changing ideas of 'development' since the mid-twentieth century and how these have translated into very different policy approaches and outcomes. You'll will learn about poverty and how it has changed, about how development ideas and processes connect to questions of gender, culture and race, about how processes such as migration, urbanisation and technological evolution intersect with development, and about the global governance of international development.
You'll have the opportunity to build a range of professional skills, and will be trained in core research methods in order to undertake an individual piece of original research. Our placement-based dissertation option also enables you to gain valuable work experience.
Optional modules from across the University are also available. These include subjects as diverse as food security, public health, urban development, and climate change.
An optional international field class in the Global South encourages you to engage with overseas development and community organisations through an intensive week of activities. We also offer a lower cost and more sustainable UK-based 'hybrid' field class as an alternative. International field class locations are subject to variation and subject to the number of students participating, but previous destinations have included Peru, Nepal and South Africa.
The costs of optional field classes modules and placements are not included in your tuition fees. A limited amount of funding, accessed through a competitive process, is available to students to help finance field classes.
An optional international field class in the Global South encourages you to engage with overseas development and community organisations through an intensive week of activities.
We also offer a lower cost and more sustainable UK-based 'hybrid' field class as an alternative.
International field class locations are subject to variation and subject to the number of students participating, but previous destinations have included Peru, Nepal and South Africa.
The costs of optional field classes modules and placements are not included in your tuition fees. A limited amount of funding, accessed through a competitive process, is available to help finance field classes.
Find out more about our past international field classes:
The Nepal field class gave students the chance to work in small groups with a dedicated Nepali team member, taking part in community initiatives in Kathmandu before staying in Sindhupalchok District. Students pursued research projects around themes of gender, health, migration, earthquake disaster recovery, community forestry and climate change. This research had a direct impact through a final dissemination event which in recent years involved national political and media attention as well as regional and local stakeholders.
The field class is an amazing part of the masters programme, which allows you to consolidate the theory and ideas learnt in lectures, in the field. As well as preparing you for the dissertation it is also a great chance to meet and learn from students of different cultures in a new and interesting environment.
The Tanzania field class gave students practical experience of field research. Working with our NGO partner KEDA, students were based in rural communities around Mt Kilimanjaro.
They researched a range of issues that affect local communities such as health, environmental change and poverty alleviation among smallholder farmers. Each year students fed back to district officials and previously had even been interviewed for National TV.
The field class in Tanzania provided the incredible opportunity to bring case studies we had always read about in books and lectures to life through hands-on fieldwork. I was able to learn about issues in water, health and sanitation through the voices of local people. Conducting research in the rich and vibrant culture of Tanzania was an unforgettable experience.
The Ecuador field class gave students the opportunity to work closely with our local partner Intercultural Outreach Initiative, which is based on the Island Isabela in the Galapagos Islands. Our students gained experience in field research by exploring a range of issues that affect the local communities such as food security, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues and ocean plastic pollution. Each year students feed back to district officials and local stakeholders.
You can read a blog from one of our students about a virtual field class.
The virtual field class provided an opportunity to experience the challenges of international fieldwork, and allowed us to develop skills in adapting research to changing circumstances and using video interviews for data collection, which will be useful skills for the future! It was a great way to gain an understanding and insight into the situation around plastics in the Galapagos, despite not being able to visit!
The dissertation with placement gives you valuable practical experience of working in a development organisation and engaging with development issues.
You'll spend six to eight weeks in June or July based in a host organisation, where you'll carry out a research project identified by the organisation and approved by the University. Your project will have clear practical relevance and will generate findings that form the basis of your dissertation. Students may also spend time working directly on the organisation's core activities.
We currently work with over 30 host organisations in the UK and across the globe. Some have a wide remit, others have a specialist focus on issues such as conservation, education or health.
Placements to overseas destinations are subject to the same potential constraints imposed by travel conditions and health risks due to Covid-19.
The costs of the dissertation with placement module are not included in your tuition fees. A limited number of low-cost local placements are also available.
Recent topics for the dissertation with placement
- Exploring the impact of land certification programmes on land tenure security and land conflicts for peasants in Indonesia
- Inclusive education for students with visual, hearing and physical disabilities: Barriers and experiences in Gondar, Northern Ethiopia
- Sustainable livelihoods and the urban poor: The importance of rural-urban connections for second generation rural-urban migrants in Kampala, Uganda
- Shifting and negotiating identities: Shan refugees in Northern Thailand
- Breaking dichotomies and the process of social reproduction: A case study of urban market women in El Alto
- Life histories of giving: Individuals' changing relationships with charities over time
- Governance and livelihoods: The future of aquaculture on Lake Bunot, San Pablo, Philippines
- Exploration of how recognised factors affect public perceptions of climate change within the North of England
- Learning from international emergency responses: a critical assessment of how the British Red Cross learns from its international emergency responses