MA Intercultural Communication and International Development (MAICID)

International development practitioners with a critical understanding of the role of culture and communication in international development are better placed to make a real difference in contributing to solving some of the world’s most pressing human problems.

Postgraduate Cameron Fay, Intercultural Communication and International Development

Why Sheffield?

  • Reflective Practice: Ethnography. Essential research skills;
  • Gives you an intercultural lens on world’s pressing problems;
  • Development research projects in the Global South;
  • IC in Practice. Hands-on intercultural problem-solving; finding creative solutions to problems; mediation in conflict situations;
  • Take an intercultural perspective on your personal and professional interests – solve problems which others don’t know how to

The world has moved a long way since the days of ‘aid’. This interdisciplinary course provides students with the opportunity to develop their expertise in both intercultural communication and international development. It responds to a recognised need for international developers with a high level of intercultural communication knowledge and skills, as well as professional interculturalists who can advise international developers in their work.

The MA in Intercultural Communication and International Development is one of our MA programmes in Translation and Intercultural Communication Studies. This programme is jointly taught between the School of Languages and Cultures and the Department of Geography.

It is designed for those who wish to become highly effective intercultural communicators in international and social development, it covers the main theories and concepts of intercultural communication as well as the changing theory, policy and practice of international development, considering their combined practical application to real-life international development contexts. You will develop essential skills in ethnographic research, which allow you to develop systematic approaches to understanding others’ perspectives. The importance of this in the international development field cannot be underestimated. At the same time, you can shape the course to suit your personal career needs and interests, choosing between various language, development and other subject options.

Shaza studied the MA Intercultural Communication and International Development programme. Shaza went to Sierra Leone on her research placement and after graduating got a job working for the Catholic Mission in the country. She now writes and manages grants for the University of Makeni and Caritas for community development projects.

Cameron is working as an economics education campaign manager 


By the end of the course, you will be able to:

Analyse and critically evaluate the main theories in intercultural communication and international development; Relate these theories to real-life intercultural development contexts; Evaluate, monitor and improve communication and/or development systems; Develop independent research skills.

Examples of the core and optional modules are listed below:

Module Credits

Concepts and Approaches in Intercultural Communication

This module aims to develop an understanding of the main concepts and approaches to the study of intercultural communication and develop the ability to analyse and evaluate their relative significance.  You will consider the concept of culture from a variety of perspectives (including applied linguistics, ethnography, essentialist and non-essentialist approaches), and will study topics such as stereotyping and prejudice, identity, culture shock, and the role of language in intercultural communication. A wide range of real-world examples will be examined, such as media reports, international communications, multicultural situations, and intercultural problems raised by students.


Reflective Practice: Ethnography

You will develop your knowledge and research skills through undertaking an ethnographic project involving participant observation through becoming a member of a club, group or society. This unit will also provide a basis for those who wish to undertake a work-based ethnographic/reflective dissertation. This module aims to prepare you to become a lifelong reflective practitioners, help familiarise you with ethnographic approaches and enable you to undertake an ethnography project. Particular emphasis will be placed upon aspects related to language and intercultural communication.


Intercultural Communication in Practice

This module is designed to develop your intercultural competence with a view to becoming an intercultural mediator and effective communicator in an international/multicultural workplace. It requires participants to combine their knowledge of approaches to intercultural communication with real-time situations, thus enhancing their awareness of the values by which they and others operate. Emphasis will also be placed on the centrality of language in the intercultural communication process. You will take an active role in seminars; these are designed to develop intercultural learning through consideration of critical incidents, materials analysis and multilingual discussion. You will: understand the value and limitation of cross-cultural analysis; function with increased awareness and effectiveness in intercultural encounters of direct relevance to the workplace; evaluate existing resources available for developing intercultural competence; and propose, select and/or create activities/courses/materials for intercultural interventions.


International Development Field Class

All students undertake a 10-day overseas field class. The field class provides an invaluable opportunity to develop your research skills while learning about everyday development challenges and the outcomes of development interventions. We offer a range of field class destinations each year. In recent years, our students have undertaken research in Kenya, Tanzania, India, Nepal and the Galapagos Islands. Through the field class you develop practical experience of designing and carrying out research, negotiating ethics in development studies, as well as skills in intercultural communication and cultural empathy.


Ideas and Practice in International Development

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.


Dissertation with Placement

The dissertation with placement module is a unique feature of our International Development Masters programmes: we are the only course of this type in the country which guarantees all of our students the opportunity to undertake a placement-based dissertation. It provides you with valuable experience of working in a development organisation and engaging with development issues and challenges at first hand.

You will spend six to eight weeks in June-July based in a host organisation, where you undertake a research project identified by the organisation and approved by the university. The projects therefore have clear practical relevance, and also generate findings that form the basis of your Masters dissertation. Students on placement also spend some time working directly on the organisation’s core activities.

Please note: placement costs are not included in the course fee.


Research Methods in Modern Languages and Cultures

This module will introduce and explore a range of methodological approaches and techniques that are relevant to students of Modern Languages and Cultures. It will enable students to consider the philosophical underpinnings of research and its design, identify, assess, exploit and create sources and data, and adhere to data protection, intellectual property and ethics requirements. Students will engage with different theoretical models and debates, and a range of tools for accessing information. Students will be required to attend generic research methods sessions as well as those which are of greatest relevance to their research topic(s).


Study and Dissertation Support

The aim of this module is to give students of the MAs in Translation and Intercultural Communication Studies programmes the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to complete successfully the requirements of their postgraduate programme, including writing an essay at MA level and undertaking a dissertation in the field (to be agreed with the dissertation supervisor). Students will be introduced to library skills, academic requirements of writing an essay at MA level, referencing conventions, plagiarism issues and autonomous learning. Students will be introduced to the requirements of a dissertation at Sheffield, and follow appropriate support lectures supporting the student in identification of the research area; reading to be undertaken, adopting appropriate methodologies and the development of original ideas and insights.

Teaching and learning

MA Intercultural Communication and International Development consists of a variety of teaching and learning methods, including staff- and student-led seminars, small group work, and one-on-one consultations with staff. Independent learning and assessment methods include essay writing, project work and oral presentations. All of these provide you with valuable skills for future employment. For details of learning and assessment, visit our Prospectus page.

We are also part of the Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID) which unites expertise and input from a range of subjects spanning politics and public health to music and sociological studies, and experience with working with a range of NGOs, public organisations and companies. You will learn invaluable research skills of participant observation which you can apply in your dissertation and future career.

Visit us to find out more about the course from the Programme Leader, see our facilities and study spaces, and much more.

Field Class

Students are required to take part in a compulsory field class to places such as Tanzania, Galapagos or Nepal (this will be arranged during the first semester).  These field class costs are included in the tuition fees. Details on the fieldwork class can be found on the Department of Geography website.

One of the unique features of this programme is the compulsory placement with dissertation. Our students are placed with some of the world's leading international agencies. Please note that the majority of our placements are in the global south. We have some in the UK, and even a few in Sheffield, but unless you have overriding reasons (such as caring responsibilities) you should expect to do your placement outside the UK.  Costs vary depending on the location of the placement – whether overseas or in the UK. You will need to think about the cost of flights, accommodation, food and transport, which can add up to around £1,500 in addition to your tuition fees.


Our MA in Intercultural Communication and International Development opens up a wide range of career paths in a multitude of industries.

Graduates have entered careers as:

  • Intercultural trainers
  • Advisors to NGOs (non-governmental organisations)
  • International partnerships officers
  • Policy officers
  • Project managers
  • Research Officers

Companies and organisations our graduates have gone on to include:

  • Re-thinking Economics: Economics Campaign Manager
  • the private sector (consultancy)
  • civil society (non-governmental organisations, e.g. Oxfam)
  • the public sector (government department or practitioner organisation, e.g. United Nations HABITAT organisation)

Some of our graduates have also set up their own companies, or continued onto postgraduate research degrees.

Read more, including information about applying, by visiting the postgraduate taught prospectus:

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: 11 January 2021

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