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MSc Development Studies

About the MSc programme

This programme aims to provide students with a high quality academic training in the interdisciplinary field of development studies, using contemporary theory in the social sciences to understand the processes, policy and practice of development. The programme’s core course allows students to acquire a solid understanding of the comparative experience of agricultural and industrial change across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Students gain an understanding of the major theoretical debates that have shaped the changing policies and practices of international organisations like the World Bank, the IMF and UN agencies. It provides students with alternative perspectives on central issues of international aid, trade, investment and finance, providing a strong foundation for future work in international development organisations, public and private sector organisations involved in development practice, or academic and policy research on development.

The MSc Development Studies offers students a wide range of choice in optional courses within the School so they can deepen or broaden disciplinary training, or take up the advanced study of a particular region of the developing world. Flexibility of dissertation topics allows students to shape their studies to their own needs and career objectives.

The MSc Development Studies brings together an exciting group of European and international students with a diversity of academic and professional backgrounds who have gone on to establish an international alumni network involved in development research and practice. We will consider applicants with a background in any subject, although a first degree in a social science or humanities subject would be an advantage. As the programme requires intensive reading across a broad range of literature drawn from various social science disciplines, students must have a high proficiency in the English language to perform well.

The research track of this MSc has now been discontinued. If you have already applied for the research track, you will be considered for MSc Development Studies.

Programme details

Students must take the compulsory courses, Development: History, Theory and Policy; the component course on Social Research Methods in Developing Countries, and complete a 10,000 word dissertation. Students will also take the equivalent of two full units from the list of optional courses.

During the Michaelmas term students have the opportunity to attend a weekly lecture series in development research offered by faculty members based on their first-hand research experience. On average students will have about 13 hours of lectures and classes a week during Michaelmas term and nine and a half hours during Lent term plus the opportunity to meet with a faculty adviser during weekly office hours. Students also participate in a dissertation workshop during Summer term, where they present and discuss their dissertation proposals.

Compulsory courses

  • Development: History, Theory and Policy is a full unit intensive core course, which allows students to study the theories and historical experience of development, as well as the cutting-edge policy debates and development practice of the present.  The course provides students with a strong foundation to engage with the economic, political and social dimensions of development policy and practice. By meeting throughout the Michaelmas and Lent Terms at weekly lectures and in much more intimate weekly classes, students build a comprehensive and coherent foundation to bring together the diverse optional courses they choose in their individually designed programme of study.
  • Dissertation including Social Research Methods in Developing Countries and dissertation workshops.

Students will be expected to choose courses to the value of two full units from options in Anthropology, Economic History, Economics, Gender, Geography and Environment, Government, International Relations, Law, Population Studies and Social Policy.

You can find the most up-to-date list of optional courses for MSc Development Studies 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

Recent graduates have gained employment in government, international development agencies, international and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), international and local private firms, development consultancies and think-tanks, or have gone on to obtain PhDs in development studies or other social science disciplines.



Application code: Y2U6 (check availability)

Start date: 22 September 2016

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

Intake/applications in 2014: 99/703

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: Not required but will be considered if submitted

Fee level: UK/EU £12,504; overseas £19,344

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

Application deadline: None - rolling admissions. Students are advised that applications received before the end of February stand the best chance for full consideration

A photo of Michael Canares, an LSE student