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Postgraduate Diploma in Global Development

This postgraduate diploma provides a thorough grounding in the key theories, global approaches and challenges that are shaping contemporary development. You'll explore the major development issues of our times such as environmental sustainability, socio-economic security, migration, technological change, and the politics of development. In the process, you'll have opportunities to tailor your learning around development issues of particular interest to you, enhancing your skills of independent learning and investigation.

Key features of the course

  • Explore the global context and nature of contemporary development challenges.
  • Gain an understanding of the conceptual framework for key development theories, approaches and issues. 
  • Investigate global development challenges and cross-cutting issues including conflict, justice and governance.
  • Study with cutting-edge course materials created by our academics that uses their internationally recognised development research.


Course code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
How long it takes
2 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details


There are two routes to this postgraduate diploma with a choice of modules at Stage 1.   

Route 1 begins with Understanding global development (DD870) which critically interrogates global approaches to contemporary development and sets these in the context of the evolution of development thinking and practice. It focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals and introduces a range of key development challenges, including environmental sustainability, socio-economic security, global migration, the impact of technological innovation, and the changing politics of development.

Route 2 begins with Global development in practice (D890) which teaches a range of skills needed by a development manager or practitioner to do with strategic thinking, research, advocacy, planning, policy making and evaluation.

To gain this qualification, you need 120 credits and there are two routes to achieving this.

Route 1

Compulsory modules Credits Next start
Stage 1
Understanding global development (DD870)  

This module introduces global approaches to contemporary development issues, equipping you with the analytical tools to critically examine and respond to these challenges.

See full description

60 02 Oct 2021
Stage 2
Key challenges in global development (DD871) PLANNED
60 Oct 2021

Route 2
Compulsory modules Credits Next start
Stage 1
Global development in practice (D890)  

Discover the conceptual framework for analysing the contexts in which development takes place and development management practice

See full description

60 04 Oct 2021
Stage 2
Key challenges in global development (DD871) PLANNED
60 Oct 2021

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 17 March 2020.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes.

Credit transfer

If you’ve successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count it towards this qualification, reducing the number of modules you need to study. You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.

On completion

On successful completion of the required modules for the qualification you will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Global Development. You will be entitled to use the letters PG Dip Glob Dev (Open) after your name.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 

Entry requirements

We recommend that you hold a UK bachelors degree (or equivalent), or have had experience of working in a development agency (international or local), in either a paid or voluntary capacity, prior to starting this qualification. However, these requirements are not compulsory and you will not be required to provide any supporting documentary evidence.

Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum overall score of 6 and minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details. If you’re not sure whether your English skills are good enough, there is some help and guidance at our Skills for OU Study website.

If you are not sure about your suitability to study this qualification, please contact us for advice before registering.

How long it takes

You can gain this qualification in two years by studying 60 credits a year. To achieve this you should expect to devote 12 – 14 hours each week to your studies.  

Career relevance

Development scholars and practitioners are highly employable social scientists. They go on to a wide range of destinations after graduation, including:

  • Development Managers
  • Government policy makers
  • Development consultants
  • Business managers
  • Environmental consultants
  • Data analysis and visualisation using development techniques
  • Transport planners
  • Commercial analysts
  • Financial services
  • International Development
  • Field centre instructors
  • Teachers 

In addition, a significant number of postgraduate students choose to register for doctoral studies in variety of specialised areas. A 2017 report by the Devex development community platform notes that “Global development remains a highly competitive field, constantly demanding skilled and experienced professionals to tackle a range of challenges around the globe while keeping up with the ever-evolving nature of the sector”. It further acknowledges that “recruiters predict a growing need for local candidates, and organizations are increasingly interested in professionals from non-traditional backgrounds”.