MSc in Global Development - Learning Outcomes

Educational aims

The MSc in Global Development critically examines academic, policy and practice debates about how to address the key development issues of our times and promote more socially and environmentally sustainable futures. It provides a deeper understanding of development issues and the capacity to engage with them more effectively, in whatever context you are working or wish to work. It will enable you to reflect critically on the theories behind currently dominant approaches to development and development alternatives, the kinds of policies needed to change conditions of social injustice, and the types of public and private action that can be taken. It also presents the opportunity to identify and pursue your own interests in development and to build advanced skills in designing and undertaking independent research in the field.

On the course you will:

  • consider and critically evaluate a range of theoretical approaches to global development and their policy and practice implications
  • work with multi-media case studies covering a range of issues and contexts to reflect on and learn from real life experiences of development 
  • learn about building relationships between different actors and how development alternatives can be negotiated across different perspectives and interests
  • develop research skills, carry out your own research and write a dissertation on a topic that builds on and contributes to your professional and/or personal interests in development
  • derive insights from The Open University’s world-class development research.

Learning outcomes

The qualification provides opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas: 

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this qualification you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the:

  • complex nature and dynamics of different global development issues, and the implications of this complexity for policy and practice.
  • key concepts, theories and methods relevant to global development in a variety of contexts, demonstrating a critical and advanced understanding of them.
  • role of power, cultural values, social, economic and political context, and ethics for practices, concepts and assumptions that influence development research, policy and professional practice
  • complex interrelationships between theory, research, policy and practice relevant to global development.

Cognitive skills

On completion of this qualification you will be able to:

  • define, critically examine and apply concepts, theories and evidence to a range of global development issues.
  • critically select, interpret, evaluate and use different forms of evidence and methods, with a clear awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of different data
  • critically reflect on your standpoint and the standpoint of others concerning theory, policy and practice. This includes making ethical judgments concerning policy and practice interventions within global contexts.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this qualification you will be able to:
  • independently plan, conduct and manage a sequence of work to meet agreed deadlines.
  • make effective contributions to facilitate the collaborative completion of tasks to solve identified problems.
  • develop audio and visual presentations
  • use and reflect on your own learning to further develop knowledge and understanding, cognitive skills, and other key transferable skills to achieve your personal and/or career goals

Key skills

On completion of this qualification you will be able to:

  • apply self-direction to identify and generate key questions and issues in the study of global development issues, policy and practice.
  • work independently to produce complex analyses suitable for academic, professional and/or lay audiences.
  • effectively use data of various sorts (numerical, textual), from diverse sources (academic, policy, research, secondary material), and from different media (print, electronic, verbal) in a sophisticated and critical manner.
  • effectively use a range of media platforms including blogging and vlogging.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Assessment will build on your knowledge and employment experience, and will develop academic skills through a series of formative assessments leading to a summative assessment at the end of each module. 

Principles governing the strategy demonstrate the following qualities:
  • student centred, inclusive, personalised and contextualised within the real world
  • articulation of experience put at the centre of the learning process
  • use of reflection and skills of synthesis as part of an integrative learning process
  • continuous formative feedback supported by peer engagement through, for example, blogging and group activities
  • help for you to find connections between topics
  • support for deep and transformative learning
Within this framework ‘assessment events’ will be the means by which you make the link between your experience, knowledge and understanding, and the teaching. In the first two modules, these will include:
  • presentations, with feedback from peers and your tutor on presenting skills
  • academic blogs and comment on peers’ blogs
  • reflections on practice in relation to key concepts
  • report writing
  • case studies
  • collaborative work developing negotiating skills.
In the final module, tutors will provide feedback at each of the five key stages involved in creating your own independent research project: identifying an issue; developing research questions; producing a research design; conducting research; and presenting research.  The main summative assessment will take the form of a dissertation.

Throughout the course, tutors will provide formative and summative feedback using the electronic tutor-marked assignment system.

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