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International Rural Development

Course Description


Rural communities face a plethora of challenges; increasing population, pressure for development, the depletion of natural resources, and the impacts of oil production and climate change. They must develop their management of natural resources sustainably, whilst also increasing food production. The theme of human exploitation of resources and the global implications of human development underpins this MSc in International Rural Development.

Career prospects

MSc International Rural Development graduates have
entered careers in:
• Research and consultancy
• Policy formulation
• Project management
Working within:
• International organisations
• Government departments
• National agencies
• Research institutions
• Universities
• Commercial companies worldwide

Who is the course for?

This MSc course meets the needs of recent graduates, those working in rural development wishing to further their career prospects, as well as those seeking a career change. This course enables students to develop their knowledge to significantly contribute to rural community development.

Course structure

The course may be studied full-time over 12 months or part-time over two years.
Students will study five core modules and three elective modules, followed by the Research Project on a topic related to one of the key themes of the course. The Research Project is carried out over the summer to be submitted in September. It will be presented as a review of the topic and as a research paper.

Students will gain a broader understanding of the relevant issues through lectures, case studies, seminars and management projects. This approach fosters teamwork and complements individual study and student learning.
The course is available to start in either September or January
Modules will be taught in 10 week blocks.

September entry
Students will study four modules in the autumn term followed by four modules in the spring term, and complete their Research Project by the end of September.

January entry
Students will study four modules in the spring term, complete their Research Project by the end of September, and study four modules in the autumn term.


Development Project Management
Poverty and Food Security
Agricultural and Rural Policy
Economics of the Environment
Natural Resource Appraisal
Research Project
Plus THREE additional modules, selected from:
Climate Change and Development
Natural Resource Management
Sustainable Rural Tourism
Fisheries and Aquaculture Management
Integrated Agricultural Systems
Small Scale Farming and
Local Food Supply
Organic Agricultural Systems

The student view

Makala Ngaka
I was working as a Senior Agricultural Economist at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in South Africa when I decided to pursue the MSc International Rural Development at the Royal Agricultural University.
The reputation of the University, and in particular the high employability rate for graduates, really attracted me to undertake the programme.

The MSc gave me a thorough understanding of the complexities within the rural landscape, which is crucial for a development practitioner to understand. The placement at the United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction was a highlight of the course, with many great networking opportunities.
I completed my research project on ‘Drought preparedness, impact and response: A case of the Eastern Cape and Free State provinces of South Africa’,
which was published in the Journal of Disaster Risk Studies (Jamba) in 2012.
Upon graduation I was promoted to Deputy Director responsible for facilitating extension partnerships in the agricultural, forestry and fisheries sector. In this role, I also serve as a focal person for the National Forum for Extension and Advisory Services in South Africa.

Visit the International Rural Development page on the Royal Agricultural University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Nephas Munyeche

1404.jpg "Since 2000, after completion of undergraduate studies at the University of Zimbabwe, I have been working with International Non-Governmental Organisations, mainly in conflict-affected countries, providing emergency and post-conflict recovery support to internally displaced persons and refugees. "Throughout the period of my work experience with communities in African countries, I have observed, with keen interest, how land is a key productive asset for enhancing the sustainable livelihoods of the rural poor in Africa.

My studies at the Royal Agricultural University on the International Rural Development MSc increased my interest in sustainable land management and enabled me to undertake research, pivoted on the Zimbabwe fast-track land reform experience, to identify key lessons that emerged from this case study which could be noted by policy makers in the Southern Africa region. My research also provided recommendations on key actions that could be considered by the Zimbabwean authorities to facilitate the country's recovery.

I had the privilege of being selected as one of the first six Fellows who were funded by the African Fellowship Trust, under a five-year programme, designed to provide opportunities to nationals of Southern African countries to study, network and share experiences with key institutions, industry and government departments in the United Kingdom. The opportunity to study at the Royal Agricultural University enabled me to reflect and sharpen my skills on development options in a neutral environment. I also had the opportunity to spend three months in Liberia as part of my industrial secondment, working on a demobilisation project which aimed to take away guns from former child soldiers and provide them with agricultural-related vocational skills to facilitate their reintegration of the community.

The theoretical discussions on the International Rural Development MSc, facilitated by lecturers with renowned international experience, plus the practical experience gained through industrial secondments, both in the UK and in Liberia, made my studies at the RAC extremely valuable and enjoyable. At present, I am working as a Programme Manager for a multi-million dollar recovery programme in East Africa, focusing on water and sanitation, HIV AIDS and livelihoods/food security for communities in northern Uganda that have been affected by 22 years of civil war."

(Student Profile)

Percy Mabvuto Ngwira

2229.jpg As a citizen of a developing country, my goal has always been to make a developmental difference in my country, and Africa at large. My studies on the MSc International Rural Development course made me realise that as the world becomes more interconnected, a solid understanding of international development is vital.
The course increased my interest in development as it relates to tourism, and helped me understand the way rural communities view perceived positives and potential threats of international visitors. It allowed me to explore sustainability from a range of perspectives, and showed me that rural communities with tourist attractions need to be part of the development process.

I found the course very interesting, especially the three months research training at the University of Botswana which proved to be an important tool for my career progression. The training l received at the Royal Agricultural University gave me the opportunity to work at the World Tourism Organisation UNWTO Secretariat in Madrid, where I currently work as UNWTO Liaison Officer for Zambia.

The RAU experience has enabled me to strengthen my international network, and understand best practices for rural tourism development and sustainable livelihoods.

The course meet my needs as someone who already works in rural development wishing to further their career prospects, but I feel it would also benefit someone seeking a career change. I have no doubt that graduates from MSc International Rural Development will secure positions within international organisations and other reputable firms just like I did.


RAU Cirencester Scholarship - Single Award

Deadline for applicationsApplications and all supporting information must be received by the University by the 15th August 2016. Applications received after this date will not be considered.

Value of Scholarship(s)

up to £3,000 pa


These scholarships (paid as a tuiton fee waiver) will be available to all new RAU undergraduate and postgraduate students, both full and part-time, who live and/or have within the last two years studied within a 25 mile radius of Cirencester (not previously at the RAU) and who can demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, and motivation to succeed by means of their Programme and Scholarship applications and supporting references. We will take into account academic and community achievements, past, present and potential, as well as overcoming hardship.

Application Procedure

You need to apply by using the online application form, together with supporting evidence. Please download and ask your referee to complete the Scholarship reference form; the referee should be your most recent school/university tutor or employer. We do not accept references from family members. Please note Scholarship applications cannot be considered without a satisfactory reference. Additional information may be requested at a later date

Further Information



Commonwealth Shared Scholarship - Single Award

The Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are offered by the UK government funded Commonwealth Scholarship Commission(CSC)(DFID Department for International Development) in partnership with UK universities including the RAU. These scholarships are available to students from Commonwealth developing countries who do not have the financial means to undertake postgraduate Master’s level study in the UK. A Commonwealth Shared Scholarship covers:
Maintenance costs
Return flights
Dissertation grant
Study travel grant (if applicable)
Arrival allowance

Value of Scholarship(s)

See full details below


Hold a First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degree
Nationals of a Commonwealth country
Hold an offer from RAU in one of the courses listed.
Further detailed information on the RAU website for postgraduate funding

Application Procedure

How to applyApplicants must state in their RAU programme application that they will apply for the CSS.Applications of EOI for the CSS to RAU are now closed.The CSS form can be found here.N.B. You will only be asked to complete the CSS Electronic Application System form (EAS) if you are shortlisted by us to apply for the Scholarship.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Honours degree at upper second level or an HND award with a Distinction profile. Mature candidates with significant relevant work experience and lower academic qualifications may also be considered for entry.

Email Enquiry

Recipient: Royal Agricultural University

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