Global development in practice

The world is at a turning point, with humanity facing unprecedented Global Challenges. This module critically engages with the complex and contested processes, policies and practices of ‘development’, whilst helping you to build the core knowledge and capacities you need to analyse, evaluate, navigate and manage humanity’s efforts to bring about positive change. Building on the global agenda for sustainable development, it assumes that development management is a political and ethical process, a matter of the use of power to bring about desired goals in contexts characterised by conflicts of interests, values, and agendas. You’ll learn a range of skills needed by a development manager or practitioner to do with strategic and critical thinking, research, advocacy, planning, policy making and evaluation.

This module is presented on the innovative FutureLearn platform with full tutor support, including opportunities for both synchronous and asynchronous interaction. By successfully completing this module, you will qualify for the Postgraduate Certificate in Global Development Management.


Module 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.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

What you will study

The module consists of four programs. The first program is Discovering development management, which focuses on how global development takes place, the people that undertake development and the relationships between them. You'll explore the social, political and ethical dimensions of development in a variety of contexts and start to appreciate the complexity involved in resolving global development challenges.

The second program, Understanding development contexts, focuses on the development landscape and outlines the different institutions and organisations operating in this sector. You’ll consider the role of the state, of public and private sector institutions and organisations, along with civil society networks in shaping the development agenda and enacting social change. The complicated relationships between these institutions and organisations will be investigated, and you’ll start to learn about development management tools that can be used to gain a better understanding of complex development contexts.

The third program, Designing an intervention, critically engages with the tools, frameworks and methods associated with designing development interventions. You will be taken through the process of planning, implementing, and evaluating a development intervention.

The final program, Bringing about change, focuses on the argument that improvisation above rationalisation is needed in complex development contexts. You’ll understand how to bring about change and move to a more responsive, eclectic, and improvised process driven by the intended beneficiaries of development.

The module draws on case studies and research from the global south and global north to identify, explore and help you develop capacities – relating to concepts, frameworks, skill areas and techniques - that have a much wider application. These include:

  • appreciating the history of development management, and recognising how the past shapes the present of development
  • creating institutional and conceptual frameworks for analysing development management
  • making cases for, planning, implementing and appraising projects
  • knowing how and when to use different investigative methods and processes
  • working with data, testing assumptions and making cases for intervention
  • monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment
  • learning for advocacy and strategic thinking.

You'll link these capacities to development management as a means of creating alternative strategies for development and bringing about social transformation.

By the end of the module, your analytical capabilities and strategic skills for facilitating change should have improved so that you can make a more informed and effective contribution to the environment in which you work.

Learning platform

This module will be delivered on the innovative platform of FutureLearn. You may already know FutureLearn, which was founded by The Open University, for the free short courses it hosts for universities and institutions around the world. In addition to these free short courses, FutureLearn has a growing collection of full fee-paying university courses linked to undergraduate and masters-level qualifications. These fee-paying courses feature additional options and tools that aren’t available on the free courses.

If you’ve studied with the OU recently, you’ll find that FutureLearn works a little differently. For example, it’s entirely online and highly interactive, so you won’t be using printed or offline course materials. However, you’ll still have access to our tools and resources, as well as new options that aren’t available in the OU’s virtual learning environment. Importantly, as a fee-paying student, you’ll still have the same excellent tutor support that you would on any of our other modules.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Your tutor will guide you on many aspects of the module. They will grade and comment on your written work. You may also ask your tutor for advice and guidance. You will be taught and assessed through a combination of media, including the internet, live discussion online, text-based discussion, email and written assignments. The module offers online tutorials. In these, you’ll be able to interact with your tutor and other students using voice, visuals and text chat.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Future availability

Global development in practice (D890) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2031.


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

Entry requirements

It is recommended that you hold a UK bachelor's degree (or equivalent) or have had experience of working, in a paid or voluntary capacity, in a development agency (international or local) prior to embarking on this module.  However, these requirements are not compulsory and you will not be required to provide any supporting documentary evidence.

All teaching is in English, and your proficiency in the language needs to be adequate for postgraduate study and for contributing to online discussions by text and voice. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend that you make sure you can achieve a score of at least seven in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). To assess your English Language skills in relation to your proposed studies, you can visit the IELTS website.

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


Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jul 2025 £3320.00

Registration closes 12/09/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2031.

Future availability

Global development in practice (D890) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2031.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

Ways to pay for this module

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

Study materials

What's included

This module provides you with:

  • specially written online teaching material
  • learning activities that you will undertake individually or in small groups of fellow students
  • support from your tutor
  • online discussion and live online tutorials
  • a dedicated website
  • and other internet resources.

As an OU student, you can use the Open University Library website. This provides access via the internet to a wide range of online resources such as databases, full-text ejournals, reference sources, ebooks, newspapers, images and more to support your studies. You can use these to do a literature search, keep up to date with your subject or read around a topic. Support for developing and improving your information-searching skills is available on the Library website and the Library’s Learner Helpdesk is there seven days a week to provide help and advice on finding and using information. You'll also have opportunities for communication – both live and asynchronous – with tutors and fellow students.

Computing requirements

You'll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

It's also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you'll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and we have a range of disability support in place. If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange.

This module is delivered online on the innovative FutureLearn platform. If you’ve studied with the OU recently, you’ll find that things are a little different on the FutureLearn platform, but it has been extensively tested for accessibility and it meets our accessibility standards. This is an online-only course; there are no printed or alternative formats of materials available.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

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