MA Poverty and Development
Poverty reduction is the ultimate measure of development effectiveness. Gain the knowledge and skills to engage professionally with the design, implementation and assessment of national and international efforts to reduce poverty.
Through an interdisciplinary lens, you’ll gain a sound understanding of the main theories of development and poverty reduction in development, and a solid grounding in the concepts and skills needed to engage in debates on poverty and development.
One year full-time or two years part-time.
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.
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 mid May) 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.
- Research Design (spring term) - 15 credits
- Dissertation Poverty and Development (summer term) - 30 credits
- Debating Poverty and Vulnerability: Policy and Programming (spring term) - 30 credits
- Economic Perspectives on Development (autumn term) - 30 credits
- Poverty and Inequality (autumn term) - 30 credits
Alongside your core modules, you can choose options during the spring term 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 - 15 credits
- Climate Change and Development - 15 credits
- Competing in the Green Economy - 15 credits
- Development in Cities - 15 credits
- Governance of Violent Conflict and (In)security - 15 credits
- Health and Development - 30 credits
- Nutrition - 15 credits
- Poverty, Violence and Conflict - 15 credits
- Public Financial Management - 15 credits
- Reflective and Creative Practice for Social Change - 15 credits
- The Politics of Gender - 30 credits
- Theory and Practice of Impact Evaluation - 15 credits
- Unruly Politics - 15 credits
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.
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
£8,500 per year
Channel Islands and Isle of Man students:
£8,500 per year
£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).
You have the option to undertake fieldwork for this course (though it is not mandatory). 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.
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.
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)
“The MA in Poverty and Development at IDS gave me a solid grounding in issues at the core of development, with a focus on the most vulnerable. It enabled me to gain specialist knowledge - in inequality and social protection, for example - as well as a range of new analytical tools to use going forward.” Gregg Smith, MA Poverty and Development student, 2017)