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MSc in Development Management


This MSc is for anyone with a professional and/or personal interest in development and a desire to bring about good change. It addresses the needs both of those who would label themselves development managers, and those, such as engineers, health workers, educationists, agriculturalists, bankers, scientists, who need the capacity to manage development if they are to do their work effectively. It engages with development at all levels, from the local to the global, and is as relevant in rural as in urban contexts. It addresses development in diverse fields, including health and well-being, livelihoods, education, the environment, war and resettlement, infrastructure, with the issues of poverty and inequality running through all. It takes theory seriously; consciously and constantly linking it to practice and policy. And it serves to enhance the competence of individuals and the capacity of agencies to undertake development successfully.

This MSc is the major qualification in our development management programme. It is designed for anyone in government, non-governmental organisations, international and inter-governmental agencies and public and private enterprises, who have responsibility for development interventions, programmes and policies. It is also of value for anyone wishing to move into such areas, or who for personal and/or professional reasons wants to build up a better understanding of the complex processes labelled ‘development’, with a view to managing those processes better. It deliberately links development management theory with the realities of development policy and practice, and aims to equip those undertaking it to be better agents of development.

It provides a range of opportunities for you to

  • build up knowledge and understanding of how development theory, policy and practice have themselves developed, and a critical appreciation of the ways in which development is managed
  • explore key development issues, including poverty, inequality, complex emergencies, migration, health, employment and livelihoods, education, governance, and the relationships between the agencies who undertake development
  • examine and practise the use of tools that contribute to situational and stakeholder analysis, participation, project and programme planning, implementation and evaluation
  • develop key skills necessary for managing development, in particular the skills of strategic thinking and planning, relationship building, mapping and modelling, negotiation and brokering, and the research and associated skills required to build up an evidence-based understanding of development management problems and to make a case for change
  • share learning with students drawn from over 100 countries working in diverse development fields
  • critically reflect on development management theory, policy and practice, not least your own.

Throughout the MSc you are encouraged to make connexions between your learning on the MSc and your own involvement in development.

The MSc is the highest level of qualification in our development management programme, which also offers the following that can serve as building blocks for the MSc:

You can find additional information about postgraduate development management studies on the Development Policy and Practice website.

Planning your studies

You should normally hold a bachelors degree from a UK university (or equivalent), or have experience in this field. If you are a non-graduate we suggest that you contact us for advice before registering on your first module.

Most of the modules that make up this MSc are 30-credit modules that each requires 12 to 15 study hours per week for six months. We recommend that you study Development: context and practice (T877) first, particularly if you are new to this subject. We also recommend that you study Capacities for managing development (TU870) before Institutional development (TU872). The development management project (TU874) is the final module for this qualification.

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.

There is no time limit for completing the qualifications in the development management programme, though we cannot guarantee that the same selection of modules will continue to be available.

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.

Career relevance and employability

The MSc facilitates the building up of a range of competences that are vital for people engaged in development and for the agencies, in all sectors, that employ them.

These competences, which cover the whole range of development management processes, from problem identification, through policy development, project and programme design, planning and implementation, to evaluation and critical assessment, are of various kinds. They include:

  • knowledge and understanding of particular development problems – most obviously poverty and inequality – and of ways of thinking about and responding to these problems
  • strategic thinking, including mapping and modelling skills, both about development problems and about the relationships, particularly between organisations, that are required to manage these problems and bring about solutions
  • negotiation and brokering skills that make possible joint action in contexts characterised by differences, often conflicts, of interests, values, meanings and agendas
  • practical skills for creating, establishing and evaluating development policy, projects and programmes
  • research skills that are fundamental for establishing evidence-based policy and practice.

Also throughout the MSc you will be encouraged to develop the critical reflection that is essential if policy and practice are to be improved.

Given this, you can be confident of the value of your MSc to any organisation concerned with bringing about good change.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this 180-credit masters degree you require:

120 credits from the Postgraduate Diploma in Development Management (D37)

And 30 credits from one additional module from the postgraduate diploma programme

And 30 credits from the following compulsory module:

Postgraduate compulsory module Credits Next start
Development management project (TU874)

This module develops research skills necessary to address a development management problem, typically practice-related, and to make a persuasive case for change in policy and/or practice.

See full description

30 May 2015

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules TUXX874, TUZX874

You have the option of counting 30 credits of postgraduate study from another masters degree programme against this masters degree instead of studying 30 credits from the optional modules listed above. Contact an adviser for further information.

Learning outcomes

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, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

Credit for previous study elsewhere

If you have already completed some successful study at postgraduate level at another institution you may be able to transfer credit for this study and count it towards this Open University qualification. If you wish to apply to transfer credit you must do so as soon as possible as it may affect your choice of OU modules. If you are awarded credit for study completed elsewhere, you may find that you need to study fewer OU modules to complete your qualification with us.

Visit our Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.

On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you will be awarded an MSc in Development Management entitling you to use the letters MSc (Dev Mgmt) (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

The classification of your degree will be based on your best 120 credits of study:

  • you will be awarded the degree with distinction if you obtain a distinction in 90 credits, including the 30-credit compulsory project module plus at least one of the other compulsory modules and you obtain a merit or above in a further 30 credits
  • you will be awarded the degree with merit if you obtain:
    • a distinction in 60 credits from the 30-credit compulsory project module and a further compulsory module and merits in a further 60 credits
    • a merit in 120 credits including the 30-credit compulsory project module and at least one of the other compulsory modules.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.

How to register

If you want to study for this qualification, read the description and check you meet any specific requirements (for example, some of our qualifications, require you to be working in a particular environment, or be sponsored by your employer). Then select the module you wish to study first and ensure it is suitable for you before following the registration procedure for that module. During the registration procedure you will be asked to declare which qualification you are studying towards.

See a full list of modules available for this qualification

About this Taught Masters
Code F11
Level Postgraduate
Made up of 180 credits

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The University wishes to emphasise that, while every effort is made to regularly update this site, the material on it is subject to alteration or amendment in the light of changes in regulations or in policy or of financial or other necessity.