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International Development MSc

Course Description

This programme is designed for a wide range of people involved in conceptualising or administering policies for a sustainable and substantial level of development in the world's poorer countries. It is especially suitable for those already involved in planning development strategies, those currently working for non-governmental organisations in the development field or anyone planning for a career in development.

The programme combines an intellectual and academic approach with policy-oriented and empirical studies of development, addressing three interrelated but separate facets of the development process:
-Analysing what development means.
-Studying the processes of planning (external aid, regional disparities, environmental factors, poverty and industrialisation).
-Examining how development policies may be delivered and administered, analysing the importance of effective political and bureaucratic structures, and evaluating the contributions of NGOs and other external bodies.

Programme structure

The MSc programme comprises six 12-week taught units and six assessed essays, followed by a dissertation.

Core units
-Conflict, Security and Development
-International Political Economy
-Theories of Development

Optional units - You will choose three optional units from those offered by the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies. Options vary each year but may include:
-Small Business Development
-Gender and Development
-Managing and Evaluating Development
-Development Skills in Practice
-Environmental Politics
-Faith and Development
-International Development Organisations
-Foreign Policy Analysis
-Military and militarisation
-International Human Rights
-Sino-US relations in global politics
-Politics of Genocide
-East Asia, Europe and Global Integration
-Care, Labour and Gender
-China's International Relations
-European Security
-Religion and Politics in the West
-Understanding Risk
-The Politics of Insecurity
-Theories of Violence

A full list of possible units is available on the SPAIS website: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/spais/prospective/prospectivepgt/msc-unit-guides/

Third term
Independent study for dissertation.


Bristol graduates are in high demand and have an excellent record of employment following graduation. Students of our MSc programmes go on to pursue varied and interesting careers.

Many sectors - such as the civil service, NGOs and charity work - require an MSc and some volunteer/internship experience. Graduates from our programmes have gone on to work for Refugee UK, Shelter, Barnardos, Oxfam, Amnesty International, government departments and the European Parliament, among others.

Visit the International Development MSc page on the University of Bristol website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Daniela (Germany)

302.jpg The year in Bristol passed in such a speed that I still can't believe it's over! Studying in an international environment and sharing a flat with people from all over the world was an amazing experience. What remains are wonderful memories of good friends, stimulating academic debates and of course a deepened understanding of my favourite topic: international development.

Currently I am in Bhutan doing a half-year internship with the governance unit of the UNDP, which I feel was enabled through the degree at Bristol. Our unit is very busy, since Bhutan is set to embrace a system of parliamentary democracy in 2008 and many of the democratic institutions still have to be built up and strengthened. It is an exciting process and I am very thankful for the opportunity to be part of the country's pursuit of Gross National Happiness (GNH). I had to come all the way to this little kingdom in the Himalaya to find out that even the Resident Coordinator of the UN in Bhutan got his degree at Bristol!

(Student Profile)

Elodie (Belgium)

311.jpg Spending one year at Bristol University was a great experience! I could specialise in the subject of my interest and learned a lot about development, management, people etc. During the study year I also got to improve my English. I volunteered in an Oxfam bookshop during my spare time. I am lucky to have come in Ghana since January 11. I am doing an internship with Oxfam Great-Britain for one year. My job title is Communication and Media volunteer. This position comes from my first degree in Information and Communication, specialisation written and broadcast Journalism. Nevetheless I am

convinced that without Bristol I wouldn't have had the current opportunity of working with an NGO in a developing country. Bristol is one of my favourite cities. I lived wonderful times there, got to know many different kinds of people. For sure, I will go back soon and will have a lot to tell about what happened since I graduated.

(Student Profile)

Mike (UK)

323.jpg Having arranged an Internship with the UN's FAO (Food and Agricultural Organisation) during my second semester, I was able to spend three fantastic months in Rome with the FAO once the second semester had finished. The experience was incredible - I met a lot of very interesting people who were able to give me excellent guidance and advice whenever I needed it. I am still in contact with these people now, and hopefully one day I can work there again! On my return to the UK I have found work on a part-time basis for the disability charity Leonard Cheshire International. The opportunity to help disabled people in the third world is very rewarding, and my work there as the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer is giving me some essential core skills to carry with me in my future career in International Development.

(Student Profile)

Elly (UK)

324.jpg After graduating from Bristol's MSc International Development course in 2003, I joined Motivation, a development agency working in partnership with a variety of organisations to initiate grass-root programmes to improve the quality of life of people with mobility disabilities in developing countries. I am involved in fundraising and PR, planning, monitoring and evaluating our international programmes, and working in the field with our partners in Africa and Asia. Disabled people are the poorest of the poor, and are marginalised and excluded from mainstream development programmes. It is a privilege to work with Motivation's project partners to go someway towards redressing this injustice.


Entry Requirements

An upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent qualification). Degrees from all disciplines are considered.

Last Updated

19 September 2016

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