MA Food and Development

Food is a cross-cutting development issue that concerns hunger, food insecurity, malnutrition, environment sustainability, power politics, social justice and cultural identity. It is about the global and the local and the hard trade-offs that the globalisation era has brought about.

This MA draws on wide-ranging expertise of faculty at both IDS and School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex (where you will be based). You will gain an advanced understanding of the complex relationship between food and development. We build your analytical and practical skills, improving your ability to engage critically with issues such as:

  • food and nutrition security
  • sustainable food systems
  • value chains and corporate power
  • agri-food technology and its contestations

Our faculty have extensive knowledge and direct field experience. And our guest speakers – from government bodies, international organisations, NGOs, and local food networks and movements – introduce you to contemporary policy debates and practices.

World-leaders in development studies

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is a global research and learning organisation for equitable and sustainable change. In partnership with the University of Sussex, IDS is ranked first in the world for development studies by the QS University Rankings.


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 typically 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.

Course content and structure

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

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
  • Body and Society – 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.

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

You should normally have an upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate honours degree or above. Your qualification should be in the natural or social sciences.Your qualification should be in a social or natural science but if you do not meet the academic requirements or have other degrees you will also be considered if you can show evidence of relevant work or voluntary experience. You must write a detailed two-page personal statement, explaining why you are applying for the degree and the relevance of your previous experience.

The course is 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/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students: £9,250 per year. International students: £18,500 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 2020 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.

Additional costs for optional fieldwork

You have the option to undertake fieldwork for this course (though it is not mandatory). You will need to cover the additional costs that this entails. Costs will depend on the scope and scale of the activities. For example, conducting interviews in your hometown could cost very little, whereas travelling overseas to interview government officials could cost much more in terms of flights, accommodation and subsistence. There may also be options for desk-based research, such as paying for access to research databases.  If you wish to conduct fieldwork, you should always talk to your course convenors and dissertation supervisors before making any arrangements.


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.