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MA International Development

University of Sheffield Department of Geography

Full time September MA 1 year FT

About the course

Course description

This course engages with the challenges of international development in today’s complex world. You’ll develop skills and knowledge relating to development research and practice. The course includes a 10-day field class providing hands-on experience of research. Recent destinations have included Nepal and Tanzania.


There are seminars, lectures, workshops and reading groups.


You’ll be assessed on your coursework assignments, project work and a dissertation.

Please see our University website for the most up-to-date course information:

Read more about this course

Entry Requirements

You’ll need a good 2:1 or first-class honours degree in an area of the social sciences or medicine.

English langauge requirements:
Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component.


Please use this lookup tool to find the fees for this course website: Please see the university website for further information on fees for this course.

Course Content

Where is University of Sheffield


Student Profile(s)

Alice Mcdonnell

The MA in International Development at the University of Sheffield appealed to me primarily due to the emphasis placed upon practical experience within the course, in the form of a fieldcourse in a developing country, and the placement-based dissertation. I felt that this set the course apart from other Development courses, as I hoped that the practical experience I would gain would be preferable to a purely theoretical course, and put me in good stead to apply for jobs within the Development field.

I have found the course to be thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding, and, as anticipated, the fieldwork provided a brilliant opportunity to put the theory and discussion from seminars and coursework, into practice. It has reinforced my passion for development and reaffirmed the fact that this is a career I wish to pursue. Furthermore, I will be undertaking my dissertation research and placement in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania in June and July of this year.

My research is focusing on the care and support systems available for people living with HIV/AIDS in the region. I am thoroughly looking forward to my placement and hope it will be as rewarding (and challenging) as the fieldcourse in Kenya earlier in the year. The numerous links that staff in the department here have with research contacts and NGOs acrsos the world have proved invaluable in setting up a range of placements for myself and my peers- ranging from soil sustainability in Java, to working with the UN Land Coalitiion in Rome. The opprotunities that the establishement of these placements provides us with are invaluable.

Having been uncertain as to whether a Masters course was worth pursuing (in terms of time and money commitments in particular), I am pleased to say that my uncertainties have been entirely dismissed, as I feel the course has been worth all the time and money I have put into it. I would strongly recommend this Masters to anyone else with an interest in this field. Excellent teaching and guidance, an eclectic mix of peers from all walks of life who share a similar passion, and overall, an excellent department, have helped to make this year in Sheffield the most enjoyable and rewarding of my academic life.

Nick Clare

I spent a lot of time researching International Development MA courses before I chose Sheffield. I was frustrated by how many other courses offered a theoretical grounding in development issues, but lacked the practical elements needed to gain research experience in the field. On the other hand, those courses that provided practical experience neglected the important academic aspects surrounding international development.

The course itself has been brilliant, there are students from a wide range of backgrounds which has constantly led to exciting and lively debate in all our seminars. I have also found that the huge flexibility and variation in module and assessment choice makes for a fascinating masters which can be tailored to specific interests. I found the department especially welcoming and helpful as I had never studied geography until the start of this year, and have been offered all the support I have needed.

However, for me what has made the course stand out the most has been the field trip and dissertation placement. These two trips provided experience of fieldwork, which is invaluable for both further study and a career in development. My dissertation plcement in Costa Rica in particular was perfect for me, as it allowed me to further my language skills and conduct research into a subject I felt very important. This project, like eveyrone else on the course, was aided by a supervisor who was an expert in the field which is testament to the breadth of the department. I have loved every minute of the course, and would recommend it to anyone, as it sets you up perfectly if you wish to go on to working international development or take a PhD.

Leo Roberts

Why did you choose your MA course and what did you enjoy?

I had been studying Human Geography at Sheffield, and had been developing an interest in issues surrounding inequality and poverty for a few years when I learned about the University of Sheffield’s MA-International Development programme. It seemed to offer everything I was interested in; primarily a deeper and more contextual knowledge of the key debates in international development, and various specific areas of interest I had. I was also aware that the Geography Department at the University of Sheffield has a reputation. I was hoping that the MA would provide me with a critical perspective of ‘development’ efforts to date.

Why did you choose Sheffield?

Sheffield is a fantastic place. It’s on the edge of the Peak District, which is great for outdoors activities, has a great and really diverse music scene, gets lots of blue-skied days (contrary to popular belief), and offers super-cheap beer.

How did the department support you?

Doing a masters in the Geography Department is fantastic. All the staff are incredibly helpful, offering guidance whenever needed, and on any subject (even if it’s outside the realms of International Development). Having leading members of the academic ID community on staff is also a great opportunity.

Maz Robertson

What are you doing now/about to start doing?
I started working with a Ugandan-based NGO called Soft Power Education in January 2011 as a project manager on their Conservation Education Community Outreach Programme, bordering the Murchison Falls National Park in the northwest of the country.

Why did you choose this course?
After finishing my undergraduate degree I knew that 'development' was something that I wanted to pursue further, and spending time travelling really cemented this. I researched other Masters courses, some with a more specific focus and some that did not encompass a research project, but decided that the MA course that Sheffield offered a good theory/ practice balance and was broad enough to allow me to really discover my strengths and interests.

Why did you choose Sheffield?
I was particularly impressed that Sheffield's course aimed to help students gain professional experience, through the 'Dissertation with Placement' and 'Professional Skills for Development' modules. I had also studied as an undergrad at Sheffield (Geography BSc 2003-2006) and so knew about the great 'student experience' that the city offers, as well as being familiar with the department.

What were you doing before coming to Sheffield?
I had lived in Australia for a year on a working holiday visa, travelling, picking fruit, WWOOFing and volunteering on various conservation and community development projects.

What are your memories of your time in Sheffield?

I only have good memories, even those of working towards assignment deadlines I remember fondly for the spirit and camaraderie amongst my course mates. Particular highlights were the field class to Kenya, and of course the seven weeks I spent in Java, Indonesia on placement, working with an NGO and doing the research for my dissertation.

How has your degree helped your career development?

I feel that I have been incredibly fortunate to have found paid employment in my chosen field so soon after graduating, and with very little experience. I have no doubt that my Masters has made a huge difference to my employability, demonstrating that I am serious about working in the development field and my willingness to work to achieve this.

What advice would you give to potential students?

If you can afford it, go for it; having a Master's degree is never going to put you at a disadvantage. Then, try to really throw yourself into the course; it really is true that the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.

Oliver Bellamy

This particular course is exciting not just because I am studying the subject I am interested in, but also the opportunity to go on an international field trip and placement in order to experience the issues that I am learning about. Hopefully I can start to make a difference before I have even graduated. I did my undergraduate degree in Sheffield and loved it so much that I didn’t even consider studying anywhere else!

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