Research Design and Dissertation in International Development

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Diana Weinhold CON 7.10


This course is compulsory on the 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 to a selection of research methods used in development research.  The objective is to enable students (a) to critically assess the quality and validity of academic research findings in development research and policy, including analyses they will read in their courses and for their dissertation; and (b) to independently design their own research proposal.  Students will learn about the challenges of 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, and some of the practical and ethical dos and don’ts of doing fieldwork.  Students will then apply these skills to prepare for and write an original dissertation.


DV410:   6 hours of lectures in the MT.  8 hour workshop               

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.  In either LT or ST students will attend a full day dissertation workshop and receive oral feedback on their draft dissertation proposal#2.   In ST 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 feedback on dissertation proposal#2 will be provided in the dissertation workshop.

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


Dissertation (70%, 10000 words) in the ST.
Coursework (30%) in the MT and LT.

MY410 component (30%).

Students will attend compulsory MY410 lectures and seminars and submit one dissertation proposal and one annotated bibliography:

  • Annotated bibliography (33%) in the MT.
  • Research proposal (67%) in the LT.

DV410 component (70%, Dissertation of 10000 words).

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 18.3
Merit 61.1
Pass 18.6
Fail 2

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2019/20: 288

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Controlled access 2019/20: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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