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MSc Development Management

About the MSc programme

The MSc in Development Management has been offered by the Department of International Development since 1996 and is one of our two main degrees. We currently admit around 85 students to this programme from over 600 applications each year.

Why are some countries rich and others poor? Why are some governed well and others badly? Why are some societies able to move onto virtuous cycles of rising living standards, rising productivity and spreading freedom, while others descend into poverty, chaos and war? How can development managers lead countries onto stable paths of development?

This programme approaches key comparative statics (ie, the distribution of wealth and poverty across countries) and comparative dynamics (ie, development as contingent processes over time) of international development through the economic, political and sociological analysis of institutions. We use institutional and organisational theory, alongside broader political economy approaches, to help students answer these questions. We critically evaluate the mechanisms that govern the operation of the different kinds of agency that are being used in developing countries to promote progressive change. These mechanisms are expected to provide managers of state, private, and civic organisations with incentives that reward successful performance, and to make them more accountable to their clients, customers or beneficiaries. We review ongoing debates about the most effective ways of designing state agencies, private firms and NGOs in order to maximise the quality of their performance and contribution to development, emphasising the problems generated by attempts to introduce new practices and processes into late developing countries. We explore the dynamics of different forms of democratic and authoritarian politics, the determinants of good and poor governance, and how social, political and economic forces interact to drive change and stability. The programme provides an analytical basis for making practical judgements about institutional reform programmes by showing how different kinds of institutions and organisations, political forces, bureaucracies, markets, and participatory and solidaristic agencies operate to promote or hinder development.

Programme details

This programme is centred on a compulsory course that employs a comparative political economy approach to examine the institutional roots of development and non-development. All students must take Development Management and complete a dissertation of up to 10,000 words. Students also participate in a live group 'consultancy project' for a leading development agency, which forms part of their total assessment. Students have the opportunity to attend a weekly lecture series that brings to the School prominent scholars and practitioners who discuss the findings and methodological dimensions of development research and/or problems of development practice. Students benefit from joining a highly selective and diverse group of fellow students, bringing practical experience from all over the world.

Compulsory courses

Students will be expected to choose courses to the value of two units from options in International Development, Economics, Employment Relations and Organisational Behaviour, Accounting, Gender, Geography, Government, Management, and Social Policy.

You can find the most up-to-date list of optional courses for MSc Development Management in the Programme Regulations section of the current School Calendar.

You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, some circumstances may cause the School to subsequently change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to circumstances outside of its control. You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee places on its courses. You should visit the School's Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the Updated graduate course and programme information page.

Graduate destinations

The analytical skills developed here have secured past graduates promising careers in organisations as diverse as central banks, NGOs, multilateral organisations, charities, investment banks, consultancies, manufacturing firms, religious missions, and as independent experts and writers.



Application code: L1S4 (check availability)

Start date: 22 September 2016

Duration: 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time 

Intake/applications in 2014: 84/624

Minimum entry requirement: Good first degree (equivalent to a 2:1 in the UK system) in any subject, with social science or humanities an advantage (see entry requirements). As there are a large number of qualified students applying, we place importance on students’ personal statements for applying to the programme

English requirement: Standard (see English requirements)

GRE/GMAT requirement: None

Fee level: £19,344

Financial support: Graduate Support Scheme (see Fees and financial support)

Application deadline: None – rolling admissions. Early application is advised