MA Poverty and Development

Poverty reduction is widely considered a measure of development effectiveness, and must be considered alongside issues related to inequality and economic justice.

This masters degree provides you with the knowledge and skills to engage professionally with the design, implementation and assessment of national and international efforts to reduce poverty and address economic  inequalities. 

Through an interdisciplinary lens, you will gain a sound understanding of the main theories of development, inequality and poverty reduction in development, and a solid grounding in the concepts and skills needed to engage in debates on poverty, development and economic justice.

This is the image for the MA Poverty course.


One year full-time or two years part-time.

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.  

Who is the degree for?

We welcome applicants with a broad range of career trajectories. Successful applicants will have some practical experience in development alongside an interest in critical academic enquiry. Most MA Poverty and Development students are experienced professionals, having worked in government, NGOs, bilateral and multilateral donor and lending agencies, UN programmes, the private sector, or civil society organisations. Many students join the course after a period of voluntary work or an internship. 

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:

  • Research Design
  • Dissertation Poverty and Development
  • Debating Poverty and Vulnerability: Policy and Programming
  • Economic Perspectives on Development
  • Poverty and Inequality


Alongside your core modules, you can choose options to broaden your horizons and tailor your course to your interests. Optional modules may include:

  • Aid and Poverty: the Political Economy of International Development Assistance
  • Climate Change and Development
  • Competing in the Green Economy
  • Development in Cities
  • Governance of Violent Conflict and (In)security
  • Health and Development
  • Nutrition
  • Poverty, Violence and Conflict
  • Public Financial Management
  • Reflective and Creative Practice for Social Change
  • The Politics of Gender
  • Theory and Practice of Impact Evaluation
  • Unruly Politics

In the summer term you will research and write a 10,000 dissertation under the supervision of a faculty member.


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 a related subject, and preferably one year of development-related work experience. 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:

£8,500 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man students:

£8,500 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 per cent 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 per cent 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


IDS postgraduates have gone on to work as ministers in national governments, high-level officials in development organisations, civil servants, leaders of civil society organisations and high profile academics at universities across the world.

They are all working to define and solve some of the most pressing global challenges. Some also go on to work in academic research.

Graduate destinations:

100 per cent of students from the Institute of Development Studies were in work or further study six months after graduating. Recent IDS students have gone on to jobs including:

  • assistant to child protection, UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency)
  • monitoring and evaluation specialist, Aga Khan Foundation Canada 
  • consultant, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Some of our graduates have also continued their research as PhD students.

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

“IDS truly offers a world-class, rigorous and interdisciplinary training in development studies, with a focus on both teaching and research within an inter-disciplinary environment.” Zuki Mqolomba, MA Poverty and Development student 2010/11