MA
1 year full time, 2 years part time
Starts September 2017

Development Studies

Develop the analytical and practical skills required to address some of today’s most pressing global challenges including inequality, sustainability and security.

Based at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), you’ll learn how to approach development problems with creativity, confidence and the ability to work collaboratively.

You’ll develop an understanding of the main debates in development, and engage in informed and critical ways with professionals from diverse backgrounds.

Key facts

  • Ranked 1st in the world in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017.
  • Rated as one of the top five best university-affiliated think tanks in the world (University of Pennsylvania: Global Go To Think-Tanks Report, 2015).
  • As part of the IDS community you are connected to a global network of over 360 partners, 3,000 alumni and hundreds of current and former staff.

How will I study?

Our course is structured to allow strong coherence and some integration with the other specialised MA courses offered at IDS.

Assessment is through:

  • term papers
  • coursework assignments
  • presentations
  • practical exercises
  • (for some modules) examinations
  • a final 10,000-word dissertation.

Full-time and part-time study

Choose to study this course full time or part time, to fit around your work and family life. Modules for the full-time course are listed below.

For details about the part-time course, contact us at teaching@ids.ac.uk

What will I study?

  • Module list

    Core modules

    Core modules are taken by all students on the course. They give you a solid grounding in your chosen subject and prepare you to explore the topics that interest you most.

    • Professional Skills for Development

      0 credits
      Autumn & Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This course consists of a series of short workshops and training sessions giving you practical and applied skills in introductory economics, project management, negotiating skills, budgets, organisational development, leadership, monitoring and evaluation, the logical framework, quantitative skills, group facilitation, participatory research methods, training skills, reflective practice, gendered approaches to research, research communication, knowledge management, consultancy skills, report writing, career development, interview skills, and other tools and methods.

      You will also partake in sessions focussed upon study skills, including referencing, how to incorporate evidence in written work, and report and essay writing.


    • Research Design

      15 credits
      Spring & Summer Teaching, Year 1

      This module aims to provides you with a practical introduction to reseach methodologies and methods. The module will combine practical exercises with structured sessions that introduce different research paradigms and principles of research design, issues around qualitative and quantitative data collection and management, analysis and intepretation, and key debates around epistemology, methodology and ethics. 

      To support you in developing concrete research skills and obtaining a 360-degree overview of the research cycle the module will focus on semi-structured interviewing and survey design and analysis. The merits and weaknesses of these methods will be discussed against alternatives (for example focus groups interviews, participant observation and participatory statistics) and each session will highlight the ethical and political implications of the various choices that make up a resarch design. You will be encouraged to reflect on the issues and dilemmas highlighted by the module as researchers, evaluators and commissioners of research in relation to the context in which they might do or make use of research.

    • Dissertation Development Studies

      30 credits
      Summer Teaching, Year 1

      Following the submission date for Term-2 coursework, you are required to undertake an individual project based on original research, which culminates in a 10,000-word dissertation.

      Most students will rely on secondary sources.Primary data collection (fieldwork) is not essential, although some students who are able may wish to conduct a short period of fieldwork during the summer. If you wish to undertake primary fieldwork, you will have to take one of three methods modules offered in Term 2.

      You must identify a supervisor and submit a Certificate of Approval for your dissertation by the end of May. Your supervisor will guide you in developing your argument, structuring your dissertation and additional readings.

    Options

    Alongside your core modules, you can choose options to broaden your horizons and tailor your course to your interests.

    • Aid and Poverty: the Political Economy of International Development Assistance

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      International development assistance (aid) has apparently strong theoretical justification, and rich countries are increasing their aidflows to unprecedented levels in pursuit of poverty reduction. But the political economy of aid is becoming more polarised as global security concerns and global trade reform influence the purposes and practice of aid. Critics are many and anthropological, economic and political science analyses the dominant aid paradigm.

      This course provides you with a historically-grounded assessment of international development assistance and its potential to reduce poverty through detailed treatment of the arguments for and against aid. There will be a strong emphasis on the new aid architecture as well as the special circumstances of 'fragile' states and the role of aid.

    • Analysing Poverty, Vulnerability and Inequality

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This course consists of a mixture of lectures and workshops, most computer based. Topics covered on the course include: the theory and practice of poverty analysis; measuring vulnerability; poverty dynamics and economic mobility; life histories and livelihood trajectories; and policy simulation. Each week of the course begins with a lecture, in which the topic is introduced, relevant concepts and terminology are defined, and key theories and tools of analysis will be introduced. At the end of this lecture, an assignment will be handed out, usually involving household survey data, which you are encouraged to work on in pairs or small groups over the next three or four days. The solutions to these assignments will be reviewed in detail during a workshop held toward the end of each week, which will then broaden out into a discussion of recent developments/studies of the topic.

    • Climate Change and Development

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This course provides you with an understanding of the science, politics and developmental implications of climate change and disasters, focusing on the perspectives of poor households, communities and developing countries. You will assess the overlaps between disasters, climate change and poverty, focusing on climate change adaptation and disaster risk-reduction approaches, critically analysing options to reduce negative effects and harness opportunities.  You will also examine the social, political and economic drivers of vulnerability, considering how policy processes at different scales influence risk management activities and local coping strategies.

    • Decentralisation and local government

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      Decentralisation of political, fiscal and administrative systems is one of the key areas of the contemporary governance agenda. Policy advocates from both neo-liberal and radical democratic perspectives argue that decentralisation is an essential element in improving the quality of governance, especially in terms of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery and reducing poverty and increasing democratisation.

      The course addresses these issues through an examination of the record of recent examples of decentralised governance, using case study material from various parts of the world. The course examines five main themes: the politics of decentralisation; decentralisation and democratisation; decentralisation and service delivery; legal and administrative aspects of decentralisation; and fiscal and financial aspects of decentralisation. The course includes field visits to local governments in the Brighton and East Sussex area.

    • Democracy and Public Policy

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module examines the theory and practice of democracy and its role in development. The first part discusses theories of democracy, from classical to modern, mapping their core concepts and establishing clear analytical relations between frameworks of democracy and their historical contexts. The second part relates these theoretical discussions to empirical concerns and case studies around the notion of development and social change, including the relationship between democracy and economic development, the impact of religion and culture, the relationship between formal and informal institutions, citizen participation and democracy promotion. The final session discusses the future of democracy and its dilemmas in contemporary times.

    • Emerging Powers and International Development

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      China's growth has maintained an unprecedented average rate of around nine per cent for over two decades. Both sides of the cost-benefit equation are visible: the benefits for those included, and the inequities and exclusion of those left out. Increasingly, scholars are focused on the implications of China's 'peaceful rise'.

      Key questions considered in this course include: where does China as a developing country fit within the field of development studies? What can we explain and understand by 'development' as it is understood and practiced within China? What are the economic, social and political costs and benefits associated with the various development processes? What is the role of the state, party, and civil society in China's development? Where does China as a growing power, investor, consumer and donor fit within specific regional and global development regimes? This course seeks to develop a sound understanding of the domestic and international development issues central to the rise of China. It explores China's high-speed growth; implications for labour, employment and migration; and evaluates the impact uponsocial development. The course also assesses the impact upon trade and investment and China's emergence as a leading international donor.

    • Global Governance

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This course takes a sympathetic look at the actors, issues and practices that are involved in defining and implementing global public policy relevant to debates about governance and development. These include both state and non-state actors. You will address a range of issue-areas, including Human Rights, peace and security and economic relations.

      Emphasis will be placed on considering not just how international institutions and actors impact upon the developing world, but also how changes in the domestic and international environment in turn shape these institutions and actors. Different analytical and policy approaches to global governance are compared and evaluated.

    • Health and Development

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      Despite 20th-century medical and technological advances, health status is desperately low in many parts of the world and millions of people lack access to basic services. This course examines health systems in the face of the major developmental and organisational challenges of the 21st century. The course takes a fresh approach to the political economy of health care, examining health systems as 'knowledge economies' - ways of organising access to expert knowledge or expertise, embodied in both people and products - and focuses on how health systems could better benefit the poor.

    • Law, Rights and Development

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      Whatever field of development practitioners are involved in, an engagement with Law is both significant and inevitable. This module offers you a conceptualisation of how this relationship might best be appreciated, including an understanding of the mechanisms and effects of the sequesterisation of law as a 'technical' field, and the multiple 'social lives' of law (ie what law is socially, the objects it creates and circulates, its affects and impact on the distribution of resources and power). The module will use particular cases relating to concerns across different MA programs to provide you with an understanding of contemporary issues, the history of the relationship between law and development, key issues in jurisprudence and legal praxis that are useful for development practitioners. These include cases relating to: human rights, international trade law, intellectual property, information communication technologies, gender and sexuality, constitutionalism and democratic participation, indigenous systems of justice and conflict resolution. This module will also provide you with tools necessary to engage with the particular modes of argumentation and logic peculiar to law and legal practitioners.

    • Nutrition

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module is intended to equip you with an understanding of: the causes, extent and distribution of global undernutrition and its consequences; what works in terms of direct and indirect interventions to address undernutrition; and mechanisms designed to raise the political profile, commitment and leadership behind undernutrition reduction.

      The module will be taught by a mixture of lectures and seminars and will be grouped under the following topics: 

      • Introduction to course: the nature of undernutrition - determinants and consequences
      • What works: immediate level interventions
      • What works: underlying indirect interventions
      • Addressing the basic causes - approaches to the politics and economics of undernutrition 
      • The enabling environment: transforming leadership, commitment and resources, the role of metrics, accountability mechanisms and real time surveillance

      You will be encouraged to participate actively and reflect on your learning throughout the module through non-assessed groupwork. To assess individual progress a final assessment will be held at the end of the course.

    • Poverty, Violence and Conflict

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This course will assess conflict shocks and examine their differences relative to other socio-economic shocks. This will draw on both existing literature on conflict and the history of conflict analysis within different social sciences. You will examine the difficulties or research in conflict areas, including measurement, ethical concerns, and security concerns, and assess where we stand in terms of empirical knowledge. You will critically review the latest research on micro-level analysis of conflict, going on to examine the impact of conflict shocks on households and individuals, drawing on insurance and risk theory, and assess the impact of conflict on education, health and poverty. You will then examine preventive policies including the potential role of social protection in preventing conflict and post-conflict situations. The course, finally, will turn to an assessment of the role of international institutions, NGO's and community-driven initiatives in the context of conflict-affected 'fragile' states.

    • Public Financial Management

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      States in developing countries frequently lack the resources, administrative capacity and legitimacy needed to reproduce themselves and pursue their goals and the goals of society. This course explores the behaviour of states through the lens of public finance. How do states manage international capital flows, including FDI, debt, and aid? What domestic sources are available without excessively burdening economic actors or coercing popular sectors? How do states prioritise and allocate their resources in ways that deepen democracy, manage macroeconomic balances, pursue efficiency, and improve distribution?


      We will address these questions by considering the following four broad themes: capital flows (including FDI, debt, and aid); revenues (rents and tax); budgeting; and the political economy of public finance.

    • Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This course gives you a practical introduction to research methods and methodologies. This emphasises the relationship between concepts and theory on the one hand, and measurement and data collection on the other. You will examine these components or research methods accross quantitative, qualitative, and interpretive approaches in the social sciences. In each case a general discussion to concept formation and theory building is followed by an examination of tools for casual analysis and, finally, data collection strategies.

      This course helps you aquire both a familiarity with distinct research methods and the ability to identify which combinations of methods are most suited to explore particular research questions and most suited for specific social contexts.

    • Sexuality and Development: Intimacies, Health and Rights in Global Perspective

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The module will explore sexualities as sites of political contestation, claims to rights and intimate aspirations in context of global socio-economic transformations, international health and development practice. The module will bring together theoretical perspectives on sexual subjectivity and sexual life, worlds with a range of applied concerns relating to health, actvism and development policy, and programming internationally. In particular the module will examine ways in which 'dissident sexual subjects' have been imagined globally, often both included and marginalised in different domains, such as the community, the state and international policy fora.

      Themes and issus addressed by the module will include:

      • Sexual subjectivities, intimate lives and global transformations
      • Heteronormativity in interntional development and health
      • HIV and AIDS: Epidemiology, anthropology and policy - contested engagements with sexual lives and 'key populations'
      • Citizenship, economies and queer abandonment
      • Sexuality, law and the state: Homonational contestations
      • UN agencies and (im)possible sexual subjects
      • Sexualities in transition: trans-subjectivites, trans-bodies and trans-nationalisms
      • Viral and virtual intimacies
      • Intimate economies: Sex work, sex and work
      • Collaborative action: working with NGOs on sexual rights and health
      • Creative engagement: visual ethnographic work on sexual life-worlds - globally
      • Advocacy and exclusions: Global dialogues, sexual rights, well-being and marginalisations 

      Sexual life-worlds are increasingly interpreted in relation to global flows and transitions. One way in which connections between global processes and sexualities are becoming ever-more visible is in relation to new imaginaries of sexual identity and subjectivity, as mediated through transnational media, new communication technologies and the global momentum of neo-liberal capital. International development and heath practices are closely associated with such social processes as they seek to respond to the changing and enduring attributes of sexual lives, practices and risks in the context of wider concerns for well-being. The module will respond to such concerns and seek to equip you with both theoretical and practice based frameworks for engaging with a range of themes and issues related to sexuality and development.

      The module will be interdisciplinary in focus, drawing more widely on literature from anthropology and the social sciences, international development, health, gender and sexuality studies. In particular the module will seek to explore a range of literatures comparatively, bringing theoretical perspectives on sexuality into dialogue with more practice-based literature, such as reports by UN agencies, NGOs and so on. Through class readings, and drawing on the experience of the tutor and your own experiences, the aim will be explore, contest and consider differing modes of engaging with sexualities on a global scale - as academics, health practioners, activists, development professionals and so on. The module will be taught via a combination of seminar-based readings and discussions, analysis of (ethnographic) film, reflexive class exercises and group presentations.

    • Sexuality and Masculinity in Gender and Development

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module will develop your critical understanding of theories of sexuality and masculinity as applied to gender and development.

      The focus of core topics include:

      • Patriarchy and troubling masculinities: develops understanding of men in development work, other than as assumed agents of sexual domination
      • Sexualities, pleasure and discontents: introduces core theories in the social construction of sexuality and examines advantages and disadvantages of a pleasure-oriented approach to sexuality in development work and policy
      • Southern sexualities: introduces key issues in the theorisation of sexualities from a non-Western standpoint and the relevance of such theories to applied health and development practice.
    • Sustainability and Policy Processes: Issues in Agriculture, Environment and Health

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      Delivered jointly with SPRU, this course provides you with an in-depth analysis of the relationship between knowledge, power and policy processes. Initially you will examine the historical and philosophical roots of key environmental, science and policy debates. A case study approach explores real-life examples from forestry, pastoral development, health service delivery, vaccines, occupational disease, agricultural biotechnology, water resources and biodiversity conservation. In exploring the cases, the focus is on the interrelationships between local contexts, community involvement and wider national and international policy processes influencing livelihood outcomes.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate honours degree or above in the social sciences or a related discipline, and preferably two years' development-related work experience. Applications must be accompanied by a detailed, two-page personal statement.

English language requirements

Higher level (IELTS 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each section)

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our Masters courses.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa


Fees and scholarships

How much does it cost?

Fees

Home: £8,000 per year

EU: £8,000 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £8,000 per year

Overseas: £15,100 per year

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

How can I fund my course?

Postgraduate Masters loans

Borrow up to £10,280 to contribute to your postgraduate study.

Find out more about Postgraduate Masters Loans

Scholarships

Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship (2017)

Open to students with a 1st class from a UK university or excellent grades from an EU university and offered a F/T place on a Sussex Masters in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship

Sussex Graduate Scholarship (2017)

Open to Sussex students who graduate with a first or upper second-class degree and offered a full-time place on a Sussex Masters course in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Graduate Scholarship

How Masters scholarships make studying more affordable

Living costs

Find out typical living costs for studying at Sussex.


Faculty

Meet the people teaching and supervising on your course.

Careers

IDS postgraduates have gone on to work as ministers in national governments, high-level officials in development organisations, civil servants, leaders of civil society organisations and high profile academics at universities across the world. They are all working to define and solve some of the most pressing global challenges. 

They also apply their expertise to academic research in universities and institutes like:

  • the Women’s Research Institute
  • Educational Trust Malawi
  • the British Institute of Human Rights.

Graduate destinations

100% of students from the Institute of Development Studies were in work or further study six months after graduating. Recent IDS students have gone on to jobs including:

  • aid effectiveness specialist, Korea International Cooperation Agency
  • campaigner, Greenpeace
  • consultant, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

(EPI, Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015 for postgraduates)

Working while you study

Our Careers and Employability Centre can help you find part-time work while you study. Find out more about career development and part-time work

I was able to tailor my course to my interest in climate change and food security. IDS has played a pivotal role in getting me started as an independent research consultant.”Agnes Otzelberger
Research consultant
IDS and the Department for International Development 

Contact us