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MA International Development

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Introduction to our International Development degree

Explore the politics of poverty and inequality in a globalised world, and find out what works for international development. Gain insights into key debates, theories, policies and practices, as well as practical skills such as project design, monitoring, and evaluation. Prepare for a career in the not-for-profit and humanitarian sectors, or many other local, national, and international organisations.

Already have an ARU degree? You may be eligible for our Alumni Scholarship for students starting postgraduate courses.

Our MA International Development postgraduate degree will provide you with critical and analytical insights into the key debates, theories, policies and practices of international development in the Global South and the Global North.

Focusing on key concepts such as power, poverty, inequality, international cooperation, and colonial legacy, as well as policies related to climate change, gender equality, social protection, and post-conflict reconstruction, you'll use a range of data sources to explore three key pillars of international development - theory, policy and practice - and discover the important links between them.

You'll also have opportunities to link up with local and global international organisations. For example: guest seminars with practitioners and activists in the field, ARU’s membership with Chatham House, and our practice-based dissertation option. These will help you create and nurture new networks in the field, and can also help you meet potential employers.

What will you do on our MA International Development?

Discover the theories of international development, from modernisation, dependency, and neoliberalism, to post-colonial, post-development, and post-modernist perspectives. Explore their evolution in a historical context, examine their implications on development policy and practice, and identify their links to current debates and development agendas, such as the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, and the ‘Leave No-one Behind’ agenda.

Unpack and critically analyse key development policies, including those related to gender, migration, human rights, rising powers, and national and global governance. You will track and critically evaluate recent shifts and trends in such policies; debate a range of related topics such as social protection programmes, advocacy, and public action; and examine key development challenges including climate change, poverty, inequality, conflict, migration, and human rights.

Critically examine the development practices and actors in the field of international development, including international organisations, national governments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, as well as social movements and local grassroots initiatives. Focusing on the politics of ‘doing’ development and the challenges encountered by different actors at each level (global, national, and local), you will explore the literature on ‘best practice’ and ‘what works for international development’ through a variety of case studies and examples.

Gain practical skills related to the field of international development, such as project design, project monitoring and evaluation, and other abilities related to development management, particularly in the NGO sector. Your transferable skills such as research, analysis, communicating, and presenting, will also be developed, preparing you for your future career.

Design your own pathway. Take modules from our other MAs, including International Relations, Sociology, International Social Welfare and Social Policy, Criminology, and History, to gain an interdisciplinary understanding of development theory and practice, and allowing you to study topics that fit with your own interests and career goals.

Course Leader: Dr Solava Ibrahim

Fill in Mandatory fields ModeOfStudy, Duration, Start Date and Location for all course options
12 months full-time
16 months full-time
24 months part-time
32 months part-time

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Facilities and accreditation

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Outstanding student support

Join our postgraduate student community and:

  • benefit from award-winning learning facilities, including extensive library and IT resources
  • learn from expert staff who will guide your research interests and career development
  • access support, should you need it, with study skills, health and wellbeing, and more
  • make the most of studying in the picturesque city of Cambridge, with its wealth of cultural connections and opportunities.


Our MA International Development will allow you to develop your employability toolkit organically as you study from the very start of the course. By the time you graduate, you will be well equipped to pursue a career in the non-for-profit or humanitarian sectors, or a range of local, national, and international organisations.

Our ‘Development in Practice’ module will give you the hands-on transferable and practical skills in demand in the development sector.

You can also choose to take up work experience opportunities with our external partners on our practice-based dissertation option, using your academic knowledge to solve real life problems and the practical experience you gain to think more critically about your studies.

Throughout the course, you will pick up many transferable skills to prepare you for a wide range of career pathways. Your studies will help you to strengthen your analytical and critical thinking, become a more effective communicator, and develop the research and analytical skills crucial for many jobs in the sector and beyond. Class discussions, debates and seminars will also give you crucial experience working effectively as part of a team.

Graduation doesn’t have to be the end of your time with us. You could choose to continue your academic career with a research programme at ARU, such as our PhD International Relations. Take advantage of our Alumni Scholarship and save £400 on your fees.

Apply now for MA International Development

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