MA Development Practice

Full Time
Degree of Master of Arts


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We actively support our students in finding internships (work placements) with development organisations in fields such as community development, environment, health, education etc. during their Master’s degree.

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Working in the international development sector requires not only academic knowledge but a wide range of professional and technical competencies and practical skills

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The MA Development Practice is a new interdisciplinary degree focusing on the key management and strategic challenges that development faces. It will provide students with a solid conceptual understanding of key debates and issues in international development, combined with technical skills in project design and management.

It will appeal to students wishing to start or advance a career in development and humanitarian management. It offers a full introduction to the way the sector works, from planning to critical issues affecting the sector. Over the year and the two core modules, students will develop an increasingly rigorous and deep critique of both the ways the NGOs and other agencies work, and the political contexts of development.

Recent decades have seen shifts in the way NGOs and other organisations in the sector operate, and this course is designed to provide students with critical perspectives on these changes, and equip them with tools for contributing to the way forward.


The MA Development Practice is a new interdisciplinary degree that will provide students with a solid conceptual understanding of key debates and issues in international development, combined with technical skills in project design and management.

It has been designed to appeal to students wishing to start or advance a career in development and humanitarian assistance. It offers a comprehensive introduction to the way the sector works. Over the year and the two core modules, students will develop an increasingly rigorous and deep critique of both the ways the aid sector works and the political contexts in which it does so.  

The compulsory elements will include three 20 credit taught modules, and a 40 credit work placement.

Development Perspectives takes students through the essential landmarks in development thinking, from the post war period up to present-day debates, exploring the range of approaches applied over the last 70 years.

Two modules look specifically at Critical Issues in Development Practice, and how the sector works.  

CIDP 1 (autumn) involves an introduction to the key processes such as project cycle management with which development interventions occur, and looks at critiques at each stage with which to advance and improve standard approaches to project management.

CIDP 2 (spring) represents a clear progression from the introductory CIDP 1 module in terms of content and complexity. It will involve broadening and depending students understanding of the intersection of practical approaches and the political economy of the sector, for example looking at legal issues around development practice and humanitarian management in the context of the securitisation and politicisation of aid.

The Development Work Placement, the final compulsory module, is undertaken over the summer semester. It provides students with a chance to reflect on and apply what they have learnt by looking at humanitarian issues, the results agenda, project management systems and key topics in the chosen placement organisation.  

Students will be also able to specialize by taking modules reflecting their sectoral interests or ambitions from a range of specialist modules taught within DEV including Water Security, Gender and Development, Social Development, Environment and Climate Change. 

The last thirty years have seen major changes in our understanding of social and economic change, transition and development. These are complex processes requiring considerable attention to the specifics of local situations and circumstances. They are also processes which are situated in a system of global interconnections and influences. Because of this tension between the global and the local, they require subtle understanding of the interplay of social, cultural, political and economic variables. These involve various actors and agents including states, international organisations (UN, FAO, WHO, ILO, IFAD, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNRISD, WIDER, WFP), the multilateral and bilateral aid agencies (World Bank, DFID, SIDA), NGOs (Oxfam, Action Aid, Transparency International and others), social movements (World Economic Forum, World Summit on Social Development) and the private sector in any particular context. The course curriculum includes an intensive treatment of all these issues.

The MA Development Practice degree is offered over one year full-time.

Course Modules 2017/8

Our Masters courses require students to undertake 180 credits:

Compulsory and Optional modules (140 credits)
Work Placement or Dissertation (40 credits)

Students will receive detailed module outlines, including information about lectures and seminars, full reading lists and assessments once they have registered at the beginning of their course.

Professional, Employability and Practical Skills

Practical issues are at the heart of this MA. The core modules of the degree focus on the issues and challenges raised during project planning, management and implementation, and require students to work in teams to propose innovative solutions to classic development problems.

A work-based placement is also offered as a core part of the course. Over the summer months, student undertake a work placement with a relevant organisation, and write an extended Analytical report on the experience. This gives students a chance to action the ideas and concepts learned during the prior semesters’ teaching, as well as to enhance their capabilities for personal reflection on and development in the work place.

A range of professional skills courses are also available to top-up and extend the portfolio of practical skills developed as part of the course. 

A range of optional seminars and workshops are also offered during your Masters programme for the teaching and strengthening of student skills. Sessions to support learning - in particular essay writing - occur throughout the year.

Please access our Skills Training and Development Practice Programme for further information.

International Development Research Groups

Research in the School of International Development addresses contemporary challenges in developing and transition economies via disciplinary and multi/interdisciplinary approaches. Please click to access further information about our International Development Research Groups and our current research projects.

Compulsory Study (100 credits)

Students must study the following modules for 100 credits:

Critical Issues in Development Practice 1

DEV 7052A


The module offers students a critical introduction to and perspectives on development interventions. It does this by setting out and critically assessing key aspects of development practice, from the tools used in development planning such as project management cycles to complexity theory, and the implications for this of broader historical and political contexts within which development interventions take place. It considers how the diversity of development actors and agencies, their positionality and their interactions shape interventions and affect their ability to have positive impact. A key goal of the module is to provide students with a critical and comprehensive overview of project management, how humanitarian management differs, and the innovations shaping contemporary development practice.

Critical Issues in Development Practice 2



This module develops an advanced understanding of the key concepts introduced in CIDP1. The module also introduces different areas of concern and practice. Topics covered human rights law and rights based approaches, global aid architecture and aid securitisation, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and public private partnerships for aid, and business ethics and social enterprise. The overall goal is to give students a deep and broad understanding of the key issues driving change in the sector for coming decades. 







Development Perspectives




The objective of this module is to explore different theoretical ideas and debates about development, and place these in their historical and political contexts. We will critically assess the various ways in which development has been conceptualized, from the end of the Second World War to the present day. Topics covered will include modernisation theory; dependency theory; the role of the state; neo-liberalism and the Washington Consensus, neo-institutionalism and the post-Washington Consensus; poverty and basic needs; human development and capabilities; equity and justice; rights and empowerment; and sustainable development. A key point of the module is to show how ideas in development emerge and how they shape policies and practice in development in the present day.

Development Work Placement

DEV 7026X


This module gives students an opportunity to identify, apply for and do an internship or work placement, worth 40 credits, as an integral part of their Masters programme.  Students take this module in the summer semester as an alternative to the Dissertation module, for a period of 8-10 weeks between May and, preferably, the end of July.

In summer 2017, students undertook placements across UN institutions (UN HABITAT Somalia Programme, Kenya; United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Bonn Germany, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) London and the ONDA Programme, United Nations Environment and Development (UNED), Costa Rica). They also worked in specialist consultancy & Research Organisations, including the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem and Biosciences for Eastern & Central Africa, Kenya; as well as NGOs, including WWF in Cambodia and the British Red Cross in London.

Students are responsible for finding a suitable placement but will be given a range of support from DEV which includes: giving the students access to the DEV internship host data base compiled over nearly a decade; advice on identifying appropriate placements; advice on CV design, fund-raising (where necessary), health and safety, ethical considerations etc.; facilitate communication between student and potential host, in some cases acting as a mediator. Whilst we cannot guarantee a placement we are confident that most students who take this module and apply themselves to identifying an internship, will be successful.

Option A Study (80 credits)

Students will select 80 credits from the following modules:

Modules can be taken outside of DEV with the permission of the Course Director.



Understanding Global Environmental Change





Introduction to Education for Development





Perspectives on Globalisation





Governance, Democracy and Development





Media & International Development





Welfare & Evaluation in Development





Conflict, Civil Wars and Peace





International Economic Policy





Globalisation, Business and Development





Educational Policy & Practice for Development





Health & Development




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

  • Environmental Justice

    A group of International Development Researchers at UEA are working on global environmental justice, linking in with questions of biodiversity conservation, climate change, ecosystem management, forestry, disaster risks and water.

    Read it Environmental Justice
  • Annual Newsletter 2017-2018

    Students in the field, volunteers on the ground and keeping older people healthy. A year in Development.

    Read it Annual Newsletter 2017-2018
  • Our research areas

    DEV is renowned for its research on climate change, behavioural and experimental economics, environmental justice, social protection and wellbeing throughout the lifecourse.

    Read it Our research areas

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject Any good first degree
  • Degree Classification 2.1 or equivalent

Entry Requirement

Applicants should normally have a good first degree from a recognised higher education institution. The University will also take into account the employment experience of applicants where relevant.

It is normal for undergraduate students to apply for entry to postgraduate programmes in their final year of study. Applicants who have not yet been awarded a degree may be offered a place conditional on their attaining a particular class of degree.

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in all components)
PTE (Pearson): 62 (minimum 55 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests.

Alternative Qualifications

INTO University of East Anglia

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact:

Fees and Funding

Fees for the academic year 2018/19 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,000
  • International Students: £15,800

International applicants from outside the EU may need to pay a deposit.

Living Expenses

Approximately £9,135 living expenses will be needed to adequately support yourself.

Scholarships and Funding

A variety of Scholarships may be offered to UK/EU and International students. Scholarships are normally awarded to students on the basis of academic merit and are usually for the duration of the period of study. Please click here for more detailed information about funding for prospective Economics students.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

You can apply online, or by downloading the application form.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515