MSc Environmental Change and 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.

The Science of Environmental Change (15 credits)

This module gives students a critical understanding of recent historical and contemporary environmental change in the Global South. The module draws on an interdisciplinary approach, informed by political ecology, to explore the human dimensions of global environmental change from a range of different perspectives. Students are encouraged to think critically about disciplinary perspectives that inform particular viewpoints and the ways in which they impact upon development practice.

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.

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.

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.

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: 12 November 2020

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