MA International Development - module descriptions

Autumn semester

Ideas and Practice in International Development (15 credits)

This module provides students with a robust understanding of the continuing evolution of theories of international development and their translation into development policy and practice. Through a comprehensive review of changing development theories and agendas since 1945, this module critically explores how current development paradigms and aid modalities inform the everyday realities of development policies and interventions.

Research Design and Methods for Development (15 credits)

This module provides students with a detailed understanding of the complexities of completing robust and reliable research for development. Starting from a critical grounding in methodological approaches and theories, the module develops insights and understandings of the particularities and practicalities of ‘doing’ development research, including strategies for working across cultural, language and other differences.

Spring semester

International Development Fieldclass (15 credits)

The fieldclass module provides all students with practical experience of development research during a 10-day fieldclass. Destinations for this module vary but have included Kenya, Tanzania, the Galapagos Islands, India and Nepal. Building on the research skills developed during the Research Design and Methods module, the fieldclass allows students to design and conduct a small-scale research project with support and mentoring from experienced field-researchers. The cost of the fieldclass is included in the course fee.

 Academic year

Professional Skills for Development (15 credits)

This module is co-delivered with external development practitioners and other partners to provide students with a core set of skills for employment within the development sector. This innovative module supports students in identifying areas of professional skills development – from technical to language to experiential – and provides a tailored programme of activities to support this.


Dissertation with Placement (60 credits)

All students undertake a placement-based dissertation. Working with a host organisation and academic supervisor, you design and conduct a significant research project during a 6-8 week placement with the organisation. This module provides both in-depth, hands-on research experience as well as practical experience of working within the development sector.

 Autumn semester

Data, Visualisation and GIS (15 credits)

This module shows students how to deal with spatial data which they will need to use in order to visualise, identify, and understand patterns of social and spatial inequalities. The module covers the major sources of data used to study inequalities and the variety of ways in which they can be displayed to aid understanding and analysis.

Theory and Debates in Food Security and Food Justice (15 credits)

Food Security and Food Justice are areas of increasing importance at local, national, transnational and global scales. While various political and non-political agents at various scales have recognised that Global Hunger and Food Security (of which Food Justice is a primary component) is a key challenge requiring urgent interdisciplinary investigation and problem solving, there remains limited agreement as to how best to approach these issues and at what scale.

The Science of Environmental Change Key (15 credits)

This module gives students a critical understanding of the science behind historical and recent environmental change in the Global South. The course covers the core debates in environmental change, the science behind these changes, methods for detecting environmental change, and the impacts of these changes.

Issues in Global Public Health (15 credits)

This module introduces contemporary and historical public health discourses, policies and practices. The module also explores the role and actions of key global health players and discusses the social determinants of health, as well as introducing major public health challenges in the contemporary world.

Urban Development in the Global South (15 credits)

In this module students will explore in detail particular challenges to urban planning and development in the global South: how are conflicting imperatives of ecological sustainability, social inclusion and economic competitiveness being balanced by practitioners, and what implications does this have for those living there?

 Spring semester

Key Issues in Environment and Development (15 credits)

This module engages critically with the key theoretical debates that shape the environment, society and international development. By looking at current questions in development theory and their relationship to development practice in the context of environmental change, it encourages students to think critically about the ways in which interdisciplinary approaches define issues and problems, and the theoretical viewpoints that inform their actions.

Managing Climate Change (15 credits)

This module aims to engender a detailed understanding of the development of ideas and theories of climate change, integrating the core science behind our understandings of climate change with a critical analysis of how this is interpreted and communicated. This understanding is then applied to consider the challenge of living with climate change in the Global South.

Using Policy to Strengthen Health Systems (15 credits)

This module develops critical understandings of health policy and particular health systems, and to develop ideas and proposals about how these health systems can be strengthened - and who might or might not benefit.

Cities of Diversity (15 credits)

This module focuses on diversity in the form of differing social identities (such as race and gender) but also diversity in terms of interpretations of planning and city building, some of which may appear irrational to mainstream planning frameworks. The module will focus on cities in both the developing and developed world.

Planning for Informality (15 credits)

The module aims to develop a critical understanding of informality in the cities of the Global South. Through a mixture of seminars and group work it explores the patterns and causes of informal settlement and working practices, introducing and critiquing a range of theoretical approaches, and examines the responses of planners to informality.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Information last updated: 31 July 2020

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