International Development Studies MSc/PgDip/PgCert

Figures in international dress
Mode of Study
Part-time by distance learning
3 years (MSc), 2 years (PgDip), 1 year (PgCert)
Start Date
January 2019, September 2019, January 2020


If you're energised by the idea of working with developing countries, our International Development Studies course, offered as a MSc, PgDip, PgCert, will develop your understanding of international development and enhance your career prospects.

On this course, you'll explore the history, theory and practice of international development. You'll explore colonialism and globalisation, and unpack the tools, strategies and techniques used in the field.

You'll also choose your own specialisation – such as health, education, gender, international relations or criminology – and produce a project based on your research.

And when you graduate, you'll have expert knowledge of development issues and strong career prospects in the international development sector – and desirable transferable skills such as communication, and qualitative and quantitative research methods.

What you'll experience

On this course you'll:

  • Learn about the key topics in the field of International Development Studies, including the theory and practice of development, applied research methods, international and comparative criminal justice, the role of gender, contemporary security in internal relations, education, health, and the economics of development
  • Critically engage with a topic of your choice, using your own research to inform your work
  • Unpack the tools needed to carry out systematic and methodologically sound research, including literature reviews and empirical research
  • Be able to justify any ethical considerations in relation to your research
  • Access our virtual learning facilities which include webinars, discussion forums, one-to-one online tutorials with lecturers, and Skype meetings
  • Be supported by experts in the field of International Development Studies, including members of CEISR (Centre for European and International Studies Research), who will share their expertise in the field

Work experience and career planning

We'll help you to identify internships, voluntary roles and opportunities that will complement your studies.

When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills to work.

After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.

Careers and opportunities

The International Development Studies degree course is ideal if you are already working, or hope to work in the international development sector.

You'll develop your professional networks and identify career opportunities during the course of your studies, and receive advice and guidance about your career progression from the experts and development practitioners.

You'll graduate with greater knowledge of development issues, strong career prospects in the international development sector, and the option to progress to doctoral study.

Entry requirements​

Entry requirements

  • A good honours degree in a relevant subject, or equivalent professional experience and qualifications
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0

  • A good honours degree in a relevant subject, or equivalent professional experience and qualifications
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0

​Course costs

Tuition Fees (January 2019 start)

UK/EU/International/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students: £2,000 per year (may be subject to annual increase)

Additional course costs

These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending. 

Additional costs

Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.

You’ll study up to 6 units a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each unit.

You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.

We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

You'll need to cover the cost of travel, accommodation and subsistence if you choose to attend optional campus induction events, workshops and study days. These costs will be around £50 – £500.

You'll need to cover the travel costs for optional internships/placements. These will vary depending on the internship/placement in question, and will normally be around £50 – £1,000.

​What you'll study

Each unit on this course is worth a certain number of credits.

MSc: You'll study units worth a total of 180 credits. For example, 4 units worth 30 credits and 1 unit worth 60 credits.

PgDip: You'll study units worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 3 units worth 20 credits and 1 unit worth 60 credits.

PgCert: You'll study 2 units worth 30 credits each, for a total of 60 credits.

Units currently being studied

Core units include:

  • Theory and Practice of Development
  • Applied Research Methods for Development
  • Dissertation (MSc only)

Options to choose from (MSc and PgDip only) currently include:

  • International and Comparative Criminal Justice
  • Gender for Development Cooperation
  • Contemporary Security in International Relations
  • Education and Development
  • Health and Development
  • Economics of Development

Changes to course content

We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

Learning support

As well as support by faculty teaching staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques


Teaching on this course is entirely through distance learning. You'll get all course materials, readings, lectures notes and additional material through our virtual learning environment. 

You'll be taught through:

  • webinars
  • discussion forums
  • one-on-one tutorials
  • lectures
  • skype meetings

How you'll spend your time

Each academic year is divided into 2 teaching blocks and an assessment period:

  • Autumn teaching block – September to December
  • Spring teaching block – January to Easter
  • Assessment period – Easter to June

How you're assessed​

You'll be assessed through:

  • essays
  • discussion forums
  • blogs
  • portfolios
  • policy brief


Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study with us, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply. 

Apply for this course using our online application form

International students

If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply directly to us or you can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region. To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.