MA Food and Development

This degree provides you with a solid theoretical and practical understanding of the complex relationship between food and development. Based at IDS and the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex, you will build your analytical and practical skills, and improve your ability to engage critically in development issues and debates pertaining to food security, systems, rights, policy and regulation, technology and politics, from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Hands are reaching for packets of food at a food handout at the border between Libya and Tunisia. Thousands of people are still waiting to be admitted into Tunisia, resulting in chaos at the frontier. In recent days an estimated 70,000 refugees have crossed into Tunisia fleeing the hostilities in Libya and raising the spectre of a humanitarian crisis at the border. On 17 February 2011 Libya saw the beginnings of a revolution against the 41 year regime of Col Muammar Gaddafi.
Jeroen Oerlemans / Panos

World-leaders in development studies

IDS is a leading global institution for development research, teaching and learning, and impact and communications, based at the University of Sussex. The University of Sussex is ranked first in the world for development studies. This QS World Ranking reflects the strong reputation and quality of research and course offerings across campus, including by IDS.  


One year full time or two years part time. (Our part-time study option is only available to students from the UK, EU, Channel Islands and Isle of Man).

Who is the degree for?

We welcome applicants with a broad range of career trajectories. Successful applicants will have at least one year’s practical experience in development alongside an interest in critical academic enquiry. Previous experience and engagement with issues relating to food in development (e.g. food security, nutrition, food systems, food policy and regulation, food rights or food sovereignty) is an advantage.

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete the MA in Food and Development can expect to:

  • Critically assess and compare diverse disciplinary perspectives on the relationships between food and development (e.g. development studies; anthropology; international relations; political sociology; gender studies; geography).
  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of key theoretical and policy debates around the food and development nexus.
  • Draw on a range of methodological tools to critically assess contemporary policy agendas, knowledge production and development interventions over food and development.
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the synergies and trade-offs between food-related development goals at the global and local levels.
  • Design and conduct an original, independent research project leading to a dissertation through identifying, collating and critically analysing relevant primary and secondary research resources.
  • Present concise and cogently structured arguments and communicate conclusions to a variety of audiences.
  • Carry out a sustained piece of research, the focus of which you choose.

Course content and structure

The academic year commences in September. Three terms run as follows: autumn term (September to December), spring term (January to April) and summer term (May to August).

Core modules are taken by all students on the course. They give you a solid grounding in your chosen subject and prepare you to explore the topics that interest you most.

Core modules:

  • Critical Debates in Development Theory (autumn term) – 30 credits
  • Food Politics and Development (autumn term) – 30 credits
  • Research Methods and Professional Skills (spring term) – 15 credits
  • Dissertation (summer term) – 45 credits


Alongside your core modules, you can choose options (totalling 60 credits) in the spring term to broaden your horizons and tailor your course to your interests.

Choose one module from these options:

  • Anthropologies of Food – 30 credits
  • Critical Debates in Environment & Development – 30 credits
  • Fair Trade, Ethical Business and New Moral Economies – 30 credits

Plus one module from these options:

  • Climate Resilient Development – 30 credits
  • Climate Change and Development – 15 credits + Nutrition – 15 credits
  • Sustainability and Policy Processes – 30 credits

In the summer term, you will research and write a 10,000-word dissertation under the supervision of a faculty member, or undertake a dissertation with placement. 

You’re responsible for finding a host organisation and location for your placement.

This course is currently subject to validation, in line with our procedures for assuring the quality of our degrees. This means that some course detail, including modules, may change. The validation process will be concluded before the course starts.


Please note: If you’re receiving – or applying for – USA federal Direct Loan funds, you can’t undertake your placement/internship in the USA. Find out more about American Student Loans and Federal Student Aid 


You'll be assessed through term papers, coursework assignments, presentations, exams, practical exercises, and a 10,000 word dissertation.

Entry requirements

Successful applicants will have a first or upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate honours degree in the social sciences or related subject. Applications must be accompanied by a detailed two-page personal statement, explaining why you are applying for the degree and the relevance of your previous experience.

The course in taught in English. To derive the maximum benefit from the course, participants should be proficient in English and able to take an active part in discussions. The minimum requirement is, for example, an IELTS grade of 7.0 overall and no less than 6.5 in each section of the IELTS test. For detailed information on English language requirements for international students please see the University of Sussex website.

Fees and scholarships

UK/EU students: £7,900 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man students: £7,900 per year

International students: £15,500 per year

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

If you’re studying part time over two years, you’ll be charged 50% of the equivalent 2018 full-time fee in each year of study. The fee in your second year – if you continue your studies without a break – will be subject to a 2.5% increase (subject to rounding).

Find out typical living costs for studying at Sussex

For scholarship opportunities and information on sources of funding please see the advice on funding on the University of Sussex website.


We expect our graduates to become specialists and advisers in food and development issues worldwide, working for either governments, international development agencies, civil society organisations or social movements engaged with food-related themes. Many of our graduates go on to teach in universities around the world.

Graduate destinations:

93% of students from the School of Global Studies and 100% of students from the Institute of Development Studies were in work or further study six months after graduating. Recent International Development and IDS students have gone on to roles including:

  • coffee research consultant, Fairtrade Foundation
  • food security adviser, Mennonite Central Committee
  • consultant, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.

(EPI, Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015 for postgraduates)

I am optimistic that the knowledge and skills I gained at IDS will be beneficial in working to uplift the living standards of the people in future.” (Mir Dosteen Hoth, IDS Graduate 2017)


To apply, complete the online application form on the University of Sussex website.


Image credit: Panos / Jeroen Oerlemans