Research Design and Dissertation in International Development

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Diana Weinhold CON 7.10


This course is compulsory on the MSc in African Development, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Health and International Development and MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

DV410 and MY410 together provide students a coordinated introduction to research design and a selection of research methods used in development research.  The objective is to enable students to conduct independent research, to assess the methods used to generate evidence, and to critically assess the quality and validity of research analysis and findings in development research and policy.  Students will learn about: the challenges of conducting research; about research design, including how to generate a research question and how to select a research method; the relative strengths and weaknesses of alternative research methods; some of the practical and ethical dos and don’ts of doing fieldwork; and, preparing for the dissertation.


DV410:   6 hours of lectures in the MT.

               8 hour workshop in the ST               

MY410:  15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT.

The development of the dissertation is conducted via a coordinated, joint collaboration between the individual student, his or her academic mentor in ID, instructors and seminar leaders in MY410, and dissertation workshop leaders.  Additional support and feedback is also available from other ID faculty via the Department’s open-door policy, and from individual and group sessions provided through LSE Life throughout the academic year.

In the MT students will attend both MY410 lectures and seminars on research design, as well as three DV410 lectures on LSE Life and library resources, and ethics issues for MSc research.  Students will also meet with their academic mentor at least twice per term.
  In MT week 11 students will submit a 1000-word research proposal#1 for summative assessment.

In LT week 3 students will receive a mark and written feedback on research proposal#1.  Throughout the term they are expected meet with their academic mentor, other ID faculty, and/or MY410 Fellows on a regular basis as they develop their longer 3000-word dissertation proposal#2.  A preliminary draft of dissertation proposal#2 will be submitted a week before the beginning of ST.

In ST1 students will attend a full day dissertation workshop in week 1 and receive oral and written feedback on their draft dissertation proposal#2.   In ST week 3 they will submit their (revised) 3000-word dissertation proposal#2 for summative assessment.  Students will receive a provisional mark and written feedback on their dissertation proposal#2 by the end of ST.

There will be a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Formative oral feedback of dissertation ideas and proposals are provided throughout the academic year from students’ academic mentor and ID faculty.  Formative coursework and feedback will be provided in MY410 seminars, and formative oral on dissertation proposal#2 will be provided in the ST dissertation workshop.

Every student will have to complete the ethics review process by end of ST7.  Where appropriate, students requiring risk assessment, will have to complete this by end of ST7.


Dissertation (70%, 10000 words) in the ST.
Two pieces of Coursework (30%, 1000 words in MT and 3000 words in ST).

Students will attend compulsory MY410 lectures and seminars and submit two MY410 dissertation proposals which comprise 30% of the total course mark as follows:

MY410 Dissertation Proposal 1 is 10.5% of the total mark.

MY410 Dissertation Proposal 2 is 19.5% of the total mark.

Students will submit a dissertation of not more than 10,000 words, not including references, by midday on the date specified by the Department towards the end of August.

Student performance results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 15
Merit 60.4
Pass 22.6
Fail 2

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2017/18: 260

Average class size 2017/18: Unavailable

Controlled access 2017/18: No

Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (MT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills