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Postgraduate Diploma in Global Development

The world is at a turning point. In these times of uncertainty and change, this postgraduate diploma provides you with an advanced grounding in the key theories, approaches and issues that are shaping contemporary global development and the global challenges we face. Drawing on important social science ideas, it introduces a conceptual framework for making sense of development. It employs this framework to examine six major issues: migration, socio-economic security, environmental sustainability, technological innovation, the global politics of development, and the politics of doing development. You’ll also have the opportunity to deepen your knowledge and understanding of the issue or issues of most interest to you by exploring them through four cross-cutting global challenges: conflict, governance, justice, and transformation. The diploma therefore enables you to identify and pursue your own interests in development while also enhancing your skills of critical thinking and independent learning and investigation.

Key features of the course

  • Explore the global context and nature of contemporary development issues.
  • Gain an understanding of key concepts for critically examining development theories, approaches and issues.
  • Study with cutting-edge course materials that draw on the internationally recognised development teaching and research of our academics.
  • Tailor your learning around development issues of particular interest to you
  • Build essential skills for a career in development and related areas.


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
Course cost
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details


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

Route 2 begins with Global development in practice (D890) presented on the award winning FutureLearn platform. With an emphasis on development as practice, you'll discover, critically analyse, evaluate, and apply the key tools and techniques needed by a development manager or practitioner.

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 07 Oct 2023
Stage 2
Key challenges in global development (DD871)  
This module enables you to critically explore the challenges of conflict, governance, justice and transformation that cut across all development issues.

See full description

60 07 Oct 2023

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 02 Oct 2023
Stage 2
Key challenges in global development (DD871)  
This module enables you to critically explore the challenges of conflict, governance, justice and transformation that cut across all development issues.

See full description

60 07 Oct 2023

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.

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.

You can progress from this Postgraduate Diploma in Global Development to our MSc in Global Development (F86).


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. 

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 14 March 2023.

Entry requirements

We recommend that you hold a UK bachelors degree (or equivalent), or have had experience of working in a development-related 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 16 – 20hours 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
  • Aid workers
  • Government policy makers
  • Development consultants
  • Business managers
  • Environmental consultants
  • Data analysis and visualisation using development techniques
  • Transport planners
  • Commercial analysts
  • Financial services
  • Field centre instructors
  • Teachers 

In addition, a significant number of postgraduate students choose to register for doctoral studies in a variety of specialised areas.