Researching global development

In this module, you’ll undertake independent research about an aspect of global development to produce a dissertation. With guidance from your tutor, you’ll develop your own project based on your personal interests and objectives. You’ll learn how to conduct research, including particular data collection and analysis methods, and reflect on the relationship between research and development policy and practice.

Vocational relevance

Research skills are valued in many careers in global development and related fields. In addition to research-focused roles, understanding research processes and outputs is important in making, implementing and evaluating policy and in planning, managing and implementing projects in a wide range of fields. The skills you’ll learn in this module and the experience of conducting independent research are also essential for students who wish to pursue further postgraduate research.


DD872 is a compulsory module in our:


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

In this module, you’ll build on the interests and understanding you developed in either Understanding global development (DD870) or Global development in practice (D890) and in Key challenges in global development (DD871) in order to develop your own independent research project.

In Block 1, you’ll reflect on the key challenges and issues in global development that you've previously explored. You’ll also think about your own personal and professional experiences and objectives and how these might inform your dissertation. The materials in this block support you to refine your broad interests to identify a researchable topic through reviewing literature and scoping available data. You’ll be able to network with other students to identify areas of shared interest.

During Block 2, you’ll develop a comprehensive research proposal. You’ll learn about research methodology and principles of research design, as well as specific methods of data collection and analysis and how to use them. Throughout this block and the module, you’ll be engaging with debates about what constitutes ethical research in global development. We’ll encourage you to reflect on the politics of knowledge production in global development, as well as consider how to put key ideas, such as informed consent, into practice as you conduct your own research.

In Blocks 3 and 4, you'll have more time for independent research, supported by one-to-one discussions with your tutor. At the end of Block 3, you’ll be able to submit some of your work for feedback.

At the end of the module, you’ll submit your dissertation. The module has been designed so that by the time you submit the dissertation, you’ll already have received feedback on key aspects, such as the methodology and research design. You will have had the opportunity to discuss your research and the dissertation writing process with your tutor, other members of the module team, and your peers.  

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You'll be a member of a tutor group and have a tutor who will work with you and your group while completing the module. Your tutor will also act as your dissertation supervisor. You'll have one-to-one online meetings with them throughout the module, and they will mark your tutor-marked assignments and provide feedback on them.

You can stay in touch with your tutor by email, phone and through the tutor group forum. The tutor group forum also allows you to meet the other students in your group and a space to discuss key issues arising from the module. Your tutor may also flag issues to the whole group – whether about module content or points of information about the study process.

In addition to individual meetings with your tutor, the module team will also host regular online drop-in sessions in which you can raise questions about aspects of the research and dissertation-writing process to discuss with the academics and your peers.


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

Researching global development 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 2033.


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

This is a compulsory module for Stage 3 of both routes through the MSc in Global Development and will be the final module that you study. You need to have successfully completed the modules at Stages 1 and 2 unless you choose to study Stages 2 and 3 simultaneously.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of this module and the best time to start, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

As you’ll develop a research project shaped by your interests and objectives, before starting, you may want to reflect on what you found particularly interesting in the previous modules, and on your personal and professional experience and interests.


Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jun 2025 £3410.00

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

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2033.

Future availability

Researching global development 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 2033.

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

You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access
  • access to online forums
  • online university library access.

The activities in the teaching material will often ask you to reflect on your own experiences. At certain points, you will be asked to share your comments and views with other students and your tutor.

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 spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

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

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

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

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) and Microsoft Word versions of online material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Other alternative formats of the module materials may be available in the future.

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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