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Course content

MSc International Development Studies

If development aid is just a waste of money, how can we find a better way to improve the livelihoods of people? With regions and countries fighting for land, water, and resources, how can we help people recover from conflict and war? How can we transform the right to food, water, and a clean environment into reality? These are just a few examples of issues relating to development studies.

The International Development Studies programme allows you to develop a critical understanding of development theories. You will learn to plan and conduct research. You acquire the skills to translate your finding into development policies, intervention strategies and institutional innovations. You will learn to include the diverging views of various stakeholders and to work in multidisciplinary teams.

Programme summary

This programme deals with worldwide processes of development and change related to livelihoods, agro-food networks and the environment in a dynamic international context. Special attention is given to exclusion processes, equity, unequal access to resources and sustainability. Social, economic, political, technological, and environmental change is studied from various perspectives and at different levels. You will develop a critical understanding of recent development theories, learn to plan and conduct research, and acquire skills to translate research findings into recommendations for policies and intervention strategies. You will learn to include the diverging views of various stakeholders and to work in multidisciplinary teams. Depending on your previous education, you can follow one of the specialisations. .


Students can choose one of the following three specialisations after consultation with the study advisor. The selected specialisation mainly depends on your academic background.

Sociology of Development
This specialisation focuses on social transformation processes, especially the local consequences of globalisation and environmental change, and the way people cope with uncertain circumstances. Themes studied include natural resource degradation, refugees, migration, post-disaster reconstruction, social unrest, poverty, and lack of access to resources crucial to the livelihoods of people. This specialisation applies sociological and anthropological perspectives to development problems with special attention given to understanding the differing interests and views of numerous actors. You can choose a major in Disaster Studies, Environmental Policy, Sociology of Development and Change, or Rural Sociology.

Economics of Development
The central themes in this specialisation are the role of agriculture in development, food security and the global food crisis, regional economic issues, sustainable use of natural resources, rural-urban income disparities, and issues related to poverty and the role of institutions. These themes are examined from a microeconomic perspective to gain insight into the behaviour of individuals and institutions, as well as from a macroeconomic perspective to obtain insight into development processes at regional and national levels. You can major in Agricultural Economics and Rural Policy, Development Economics, Environmental Economics and Natural Resources, or Regional Economics.

Communication, Technology and Policy
In this specialisation, social transformation and sustainable development are examined with a specific focus on communication, technological innovations, and policy processes. An important theme is how technologies and policies are developed in the interaction between various parties (e.g. governments, social organisations, and citizens) and the role of communication in these processes. Another theme is the relationship between technological change (in the agricultural and food sectors), institutional processes and social transformation. You can choose a major in Knowledge, Technology and Innovation, Law and Governance, or Strategic Communication.

Your future career

Graduates are employed in various (inter-) national organisations as a programme/ project coordinator, trainer, consultant, advisor, policymaker or researcher. You could work, for example, as policymaker in a government or semi-governmental institute, as programme coordinator or advisor in an international (non-)governmentalorganisation or (consultancy) company, or as researcher and/or teacher at a university or research institute. Examples of organisations include: FAO, World Bank, European Union, UTZ Certified, Oxfam Novib, Rabobank Foundation, CARE, Sustainalytics and UNICEF.

Alumnus Luckmore Jalisi.
“I have really benefitted from what I learnt during my studies. This master has opened doors for me." Luckmore did the specialisation Sociology of Development and conducted both his internship and thesis research in a refugee camp in Uganda. These experiences were important in getting him his job as Youth and Governance Advisor at ActionAid in Liberia. “I support postconflict youth development programmes based on a human rights approach, and develop monitoring & evaluation tools for governance and youth development work. I draw on the knowledge and skills acquired during my studies and my classmates from Wageningen remain valuable contacts in my network.”

Related programmes:
MSc Development and Rural Innovation
Health and Society (specialisation)
MSc Applied Communication Science
MSc International Land and Water Management
MSc Leisure, Tourism and Environment
MSc Management, Economics and Consumer Studies

Visit the MSc International Development Studies page on the Wageningen University & Research website for more details!






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