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The programme is taught by some of the leading thinkers on the relationship between politics and development. You will also benefit from engagement with major research programmes focused on the politics of development based in IDD, including the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre.

It is now clearer than ever before that the greatest development challenges of our time – poverty, conflict, famine, poor governance etc. – are driven primarily by political, not technical, factors. The aim of this programme is to provide theoretical and empirical training to students to enable them to understand the role that politics plays in both facilitating and undermining development, in both the North and the South.

The notion that “politics matters” has increasingly become the mantra of development policy-makers and practitioners – as well as development scholars - and there is now a growing recognition that international development is inherently political. Development agencies want staff trained in political economy analysis skills while academics and governments now focus more than ever on the political underpinnings of global development challenges.

This MSc makes a direct link between academic and practical policy approaches to international development, with an emphasis on exploring and understanding the politics of developing countries and the relationship between politics and development. Issues examined include: the impact of political systems, governance and political actors on developmental successes and failures; the relationships between global, regional, national and local organisations, networks and institutions and the driving of developmental change and the politics of aid and international donors.

The International Development Department is well-regarded internationally by sponsors, donor agencies, governments and NGOs. Study with us to benefit from:

  • Expertise in key issues and skills valued by employers
  • A vibrant, welcoming community
  • Individual overseas fieldwork or study visit included in fees (on-campus programmes)
  • Flexible programmes and a wide choice of modules (part-time students also welcome)
  • A diverse and international student body
  • Strong support in study and English language skills

Each programme is taught by a team of multi-disciplinary specialists who work closely with students to address individual interests and concerns. Every student is allocated an academic tutor to support them in their academic progress throughout the year. The department has a long history of teaching students from across the world, and recent students have come from 99 different countries and a wide variety of professional and academic backgrounds.

The programme does not assume any prior knowledge of development or politics and welcomes applications from candidates who meet the admissions criteria.

Course details

Teaching takes place over two ten-week terms, utilising a range of teaching and learning methods, including short lectures, problem solving, role play and group work. In the summer term, students complete assignments and focus on their 12,000 word dissertation.

By the end of your study you will gain:

  • An in-depth understanding of competing development theories and approaches and the ability to critically evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
  • The different political systems operating in developing countries and how and why such systems have come about.
  • The complex relationship between politics and development
  • The impact of political systems and political actors on developmental success and failure.
  • The impact of the political economy in developing countries and globally on aid and donor policies 
  • The ability to critically analyse and understand complex political and economic relationships and events.
  • The ability to understand in-depth and critically evaluate approaches to political analysis in developing countries.
  • The ability to critically, clearly and concisely argue the case for and against a range of development strategies.
  • The ability to interpret, explain and critically evaluate approaches to the political economy of development.
  • The ability to make presentations and write in a well argued, well-structured and readable manner, making good use of a wide range of references.

Enhancing your Student Experience

In the School of Government we offer much more than a degree. As a student here, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, you have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of events, with some or all of the costs paid for by the School.

Assessment Methods

A range of assessment methods are used, with both formative and summative assessment. Assessment methods may include essays, policy briefs and presentations. A dissertation of no more than 12,000 words is also required.

Employability

The knowledge and skills gained in the programme will equip graduates for jobs in international, national and local government and non-governmental organisations, think tanks and consultancies.

See what some of our alumni are doing now and what they thought about studying with us at IDD.


Visit the Development Policy and Politics - MSc page on the University of Birmingham website for more details!

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