MSc Development Policy and Politics

Start date
12 months full time, 24 months part time (part time options only available to UK students)
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

For 2024-2025
£11,340 FT (UK)
£5,670 PT (UK)
£25,290 FT (International)
More Fees and funding details.

Our MSc in Development Policy and Politics makes a direct link between academic and practical policy approaches, focussing on the relationship between politics and development.

It is now clearer than ever before that the greatest development challenges of our time – poverty, conflict, famine, poor governance etc. – are driven primarily by political, not technical, factors. The aim of this programme is to provide theoretical and empirical training to enable you to understand the role that politics plays in both facilitating and undermining development, in both the North and the South.

The notion that 'politics matters' has increasingly become the mantra of development policy-makers and practitioners – as well as development scholars - and there is now a growing recognition that international development is inherently political. Development agencies want staff trained in political economy analysis skills while academics and governments now focus more than ever on the political underpinnings of global development challenges.

Issues examined on the course will include: the impact of political systems, governance and political actors on developmental successes and failures; the relationships between global, regional, national and local organisations, networks and institutions and the driving of developmental change and the politics of aid and international donors.

The International Development Department is well-regarded internationally by sponsors, donor agencies, governments and NGOs. Study with us to benefit from:

  • Expertise in key issues and skills valued by employers
  • A vibrant, welcoming community
  • Individual overseas fieldwork or study visit included in fees (on-campus programmes)
  • Flexible programmes and a wide choice of modules (part-time students also welcome)
  • A diverse and international student body
  • Strong support in study and English language skills

You will be taught by a team of multi-disciplinary specialists who will work closely with you to address individual interests and concerns. You will be allocated an academic tutor to support you in your academic progress throughout the year.

The department has a long history of teaching students from across the world, and recent students have come a variety of different countries, with differing professional and academic backgrounds.

The programme does not assume any prior knowledge of development or politics and we welcome applications from candidates who meet the admissions criteria.


The university offers a number of scholarships and bursaries for applicants.


This pathway is designed for flexibility, allowing you to choose over half of the MSc content from a wide range of optional modules.

Unless indicated otherwise the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2024.

The programme has three 20 credit core modules:

You will take a further 60 taught credits from the International Development Departments’s many optional modules – this can include whichever of Governance and State-Building and Democracy, Dictatorship and Development if not selected as a core module. See the module choices:

You will also complete a 60 credit dissertation, which may be undertaken with individual fieldwork, with a contribution towards the cost of this from the tuition fee.

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


Fees for 2024-25

UK students

  • Full-time £11,340
  • Part-time £5,670

International students

  • Full-time £25,290

Please check with the Department for the latest fees information.
Learn more about fees

Scholarships and studentships

See the departmental scholarships and funding pages.

Other funding may be available. International Students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

For further information contact the School directly or visit StudentHelp.

How To Apply

7 May 2024 is the application deadline for international students applying through the student route who wish to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2024 made after this date. The deadline for Home students is 30 August 2024.

Application Fee

For international applicants this programme is subject to a £50 non-refundable application fee. At the end of the application form, before you can submit it to us, you will be required to pay, or indicate how you will pay the required fee in order for us to process your application. Please complete and submit your application before paying your application fee.

Personal Statement

Entry to this programme is highly competitive and as a result your application and personal statement will be closely scrutinised by our Admissions Tutors. Please ensure that you spend some time familiarising yourself with the programme modules and outcomes. Personal Statements should be relevant to the programme and how you believe it will enable you to achieve your career goals.

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

  • An upper second-class Honours degree or equivalent from an approved university or an equivalent professional qualification in a relevant field (the equivalent US Grade Point Average is 3.2) or
  • A lower second-class Honours degree from an approved university with excellent work experience.
  • Adequate capacity in written and spoken English. 
  • Degrees from all disciplines are considered and a candidate's work experience can also be taken into consideration.

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
  • 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) including online: PTE Academic 67 with no less than 64 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced – minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

Teaching takes place over two ten-week terms, utilising a range of teaching and learning methods, including short lectures, problem solving, role play and group work. In the summer term, students complete assignments and focus on their 12,000 word dissertation.

By the end of your study you will gain:

  • An in-depth understanding of competing development theories and approaches and the ability to critically evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
  • The different political systems operating in developing countries and how and why such systems have come about.
  • You will inderstand the complex relationship between politics and development
  • The impact of political systems and political actors on developmental success and failure.
  • The impact of the political economy in developing countries and globally on aid and donor policies 
  • The ability to critically analyse and understand complex political and economic relationships and events.
  • The ability to understand in-depth and critically evaluate approaches to political analysis in developing countries.
  • The ability to critically, clearly and concisely argue the case for and against a range of development strategies.
  • The ability to interpret, explain and critically evaluate approaches to the political economy of development.
  • The ability to make presentations and write in a well argued, well-structured and readable manner, making good use of a wide range of references.

Enhancing your Student Experience

In the School of Government we offer much more than a degree. As a student here, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, you have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of events, with some or all of the costs paid for by the School.


A range of assessment methods are used, with both formative and summative assessment. Assessment methods may include essays, policy briefs and presentations. A dissertation of no more than 12,000 words is also required. 

The knowledge and skills gained in the programme will equip graduates for jobs in international, national and local government and non-governmental organisations, think tanks and consultancies.

See what some of our alumni are doing now and what they thought about studying with us in the International Development Department.