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Course Details

Vietnam Fieldwork Photo (Alexandra Winkels)


The MPhil in Development Studies provides an inter-disciplinary training whose content and style have kept abreast with the changing reality of the developing world, and the changing requirements of men and women seeking to make a career in the development field.

The course gives its students a firm grounding in political economics relevant to the developing world, including the study of sociology, law, political science, management, economics and anthropology.

The inter-disciplinary approach is based on the recognition that together with the analytical rigour required of economists and other social scientists today, no important issue in development — poverty and inequality, population growth, the construction of the institutions of a market economy, war and human rights, democratisation — can be properly understood without an inter-disciplinary perspective. 

The MPhil in Development Studies is taught both in the Centre of Development Studies and in collaboration with:

  • the Centres of African Studies and Latin American Studies
  • the Faculty of Economics
  • the Departments of Land Economy, Geography, Politics and International Studies, and Social Anthropology
  • the Judge Business School

It therefore provides a framework within which students can construct a pathway suited to a wide range of differing interests and needs. Those for whom the MPhil represents a one-year preparation for a career in development policy can select a broad inter-disciplinary set of subjects, while those who wish to continue their studies at the doctoral level can select a more specialised set of options concentrating on the analytical tools of their subject, and discover which university department or faculty is most suited to their research plans. 


Course Structure

The MPhil course consists of four core papers as of 2019-20, and a selection from up to 15 option papers so that study pathways suited to a range of different interests and needs can be explored.

Each of the core papers (listed below) is taught by a permanent member of Development Studies' academic staff; most option papers are offered by academics affiliated to the Centre and change periodically to reflect their current interests and concerns. 

Some option papers are full papers and some are half papers; students take four full papers (or their equivalent in half papers) concurrently:

  • at least two papers must be core papers
  • one (full) option paper may be replaced by a 12,000-word dissertation.

Students may also have the opportunity to replace their option papers with papers borrowed from other departments.

The teaching for all papers takes place over the first two of the three terms in the academic year (Michaelmas and Lent terms) and, in some cases, extends into the first four weeks of the third (Easter) term. Written examinations take place in the Easter term. Students who choose to write a dissertation must complete and submit their dissertations along with the rest of their coursework before the written examinations begin.

Papers are examined either by assessed essays written and submitted during the course of the year and/or by a formal written examination. At the discretion of the Examiners there may also be an oral examination.

Current Core papers:

Paper 1: Development economics

Paper 2: Institutions and development

Paper 3: Sociology and politics of development (will not be offered 2020-2021)

Paper 4: Globalisation and development

Further information about the current papers (subject to change each year) can be found here. 



If you have any further questions, please feel free to email the Centre Administrator.