PhD International Development

by Distance Learning

Start date
Full-time and Part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Distance learning

£4,500 FT (Home students)
£2,250 PT (Home students)
£18,450 FT (International Students)

More Fees and funding details.

International Development Department (IDD) research students by distance learning explore a wide variety of topics in international development and public manag

We offer two types of research degree: MPhil and PhD. These research programmes offer the opportunity to pursue original research under the guidance of an academic supervisor in a more convenient manner for those unable to live and work on campus on a regular basis.

The only attendance requirements are that the student visits the university for two weeks each year for an organized programme of research training and/or supervision and is also present on campus for their final viva examination. Travel and accommodation costs for these events must be borne by the student.

Distance learning does present challenges and applicants need to have a high capacity to work independently and in a disciplined fashion to pursue their research goals. However, the supervisory team are there to assist you and will draw up a training plan for each student to ensure you have the skills and knowledge to complete your thesis.

Learn more about the research interests of our staff and how to contact them.

The Department is situated within the School of Government and Society which brings together academic staff, research fellows and doctoral researchers across the Social Sciences. The School is one of the leading UK and international centres for Politics, International Relations, International Development, Sociology and European Studies.

Research areas

  • Conflict and post conflict reconstruction
  • Natural resource governance, management and livelihoods
  • Anti-corruption and good governance
  • Urban poverty and management
  • Religion and development
  • Participatory approaches
  • Public sector management
  • Decentralisation

Please see the research interests of our staff for more detailed information.

IDD is committed to encouraging new thinking in the fields of development and public management. Studying for a degree by research with IDD means being part of an active research and practitioner community that will support you in accomplishing your academic goals.

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PhD by Distance Learning 2021-22

Home students

  • Full-time £4,500
  • Part-time £2,250

International students (Band D)

  • Full-time £18,450

For the most up-to-date information on fees, please contact the Department directly
Learn more about fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. Information on scholarships and bursaries can be found via International Development Department and University scholarships web pages. 

For more information visit

We can confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who intend to start their studies in 2018 or 2019 will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time (may be subject to annual increases for inflation) for the duration of their course. The Postgraduate Masters or Doctoral loan will also be available to eligible EU students for the duration of their course. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.


How To Apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

Applicants for the distance learning PhD/MPhil must provide evidence of prior research experience and/or training suitable for their intended programme of study. When they apply, they are expected to consult with their supervisor who can assess their skills, background and capacity to undertake independent study at a distance. 

Besides formal qualifications, a key factor determining whether the Department decides to accept a candidate for either degree is the quality of his or her research proposal and its relevance to our own interests. Successful completion of a research thesis demands a high level of self-discipline, motivation and commitment to the subject of research. Great importance is placed on work experience, when relevant. Please contact the Department for more details.

Learn more about entry requirements.

International Requirements

International Students

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 20 in Listening, 22 in Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): PTE Academic 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced – minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

Dr Philip Amis

  • Urbanisation
  • Urban policy
  • Poverty and housing

Dr Danielle Beswick

  • Identity, conflict and post-conflict reconstruction
  • UK development policy
  • Genocide
  • Rwanda; the relationships between security and development

Dr Adrian Campbell

  • Public and local government reform, especially in transitional states

Dr Johnathan Fisher

  • Donors and the international politics of aid
  • Security and conflict in the developing world
  • African foreign relations and diplomacy

He has a particular interest in supervising students with a regional interest in sub-Saharan Africa and, particularly in:

  • Uganda, Rwanda, Congo and the Great Lakes region
  • Somalia, South Sudan and the Horn of Africa
Dr Paul Jackson


  • Conflict and post-conflict reconstruction
  • Industrial development
  • Information management and finance

Dr Robert Leurs

  • Participatory development and new development professionalism
  • process approaches to projects
  • participatory poverty assessments and rural appraisal methodologies

Dr Heather Marquette

  • Donor approaches to anti-corruption work
  • The World Bank
  • Political conditionality and foreign aid
  • Good governance and political reform in Sub-Saharan Africa

Dr Fiona Nunan

  • Natural resource governance, management and livelihoods in developing countries
  • Poverty and the environment
  • Policy processes in Southern countries

You will contact your supervisor approximately monthly (every 2 months for part-time students) over the course of your study. Supervisors are experienced in managing the research process and are chosen to complement your area of interest. You will discuss your research with a panel annually. The panel is chaired by an experienced researcher from the department, and includes your supervisor and another member of staff. It provides an important opportunity to present progress on your research and to have a wider discussion about your work.

Your supervisor will read and comment on drafts of your thesis before it is finally submitted. An external and an internal examiner (who will not be your supervisor) will then examine it, and will meet with you for a viva. They will judge whether your thesis demonstrates:

  • Knowledge of the relevant academic literature
  • Skill in use of research methods
  • Independent investigation
  • Clear presentation of information
  • Arguments presented in a coherent and appropriate form

MPhil students must show original work of merit that is worthy of publication. The requirement for PhDs is that the work is an original contribution to knowledge that is worthy of publication.

What type of career assistance is available to doctoral researchers in this department?

The College of Social Sciences, to which the International Development Department belongs, has specially designated careers advisors and careers consultants who can provide guidance for doctoral researchers on career paths, CVs, training opportunities, application and interviews. The University’s central Careers’ Service also runs workshops and offers personally tailored advice and guidance including 1-1 careers advice, 1-1 CV advice. The Career’s Service also runs CV writing workshops especially for postgraduates in the College of Social Sciences, giving advice on how to compile CVs for both employment and for academic roles.

The University also has dedicated careers advisors for International students who run workshops and networking opportunities with potential employers. These are especially popular with International postgraduate researchers.

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