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MSc in Global Development

The MSc in Global Development is an innovative, interdisciplinary and flexible course that equips you with the knowledge and skills to investigate, understand, and respond to key development challenges. You'll critically examine development theory, policy and practice across a range of issues. These include environmental sustainability, socio-economic security, global migration, conflict, and the changing politics of development. You also build your capacity for critical and reflexive thinking, independent study and research, and collective dialogue and action.  

Key features of the course

  • Build an in-depth understanding of development theory, policy and practice. 
  • Enhance your ability to identify and analyse different forms of evidence, enabling you to intervene critically and confidently in development debates.
  • Equips you with the essential skills for a career in development and related areas.
  • Study with cutting-edge course materials that draws on the internationally recognised development teaching and research of our academics.

Masters degree

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
2–3 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details


To gain this qualification, you need 180 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. It focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals and introduces a range of key development challenges, including environmental sustainability, socio-economic security, global migration, the impact of technological innovation, and the changing politics of development.

Route 2 begins with Global development in practice (D890) which teaches a range of skills needed by a development manager or practitioner to do with strategic thinking, research, advocacy, planning, policy making and evaluation.

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 No current presentation
Stage 2
Key challenges in global development (DD871) NEW 

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 No current presentation
Stage 3
Researching global development (DD872) PLANNED
60  Oct 2022

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 No current presentation
Stage 2
Key challenges in global development (DD871) NEW 

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 No current presentation
Stage 3
Researching global development (DD872) PLANNED
60 Oct 2022

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 an MSc in Global Development. You will be entitled to use the letters MSc Glob Dev (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.


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 17 March 2021.

Entry requirements

We recommend that you hold a UK bachelors degree (or equivalent), or have had experience of working in a development 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

Most students study this qualification in three years by studying 60 credits a year. To achieve this you should expect to devote 12 – 14 hours each week to your studies. You can however study Stages 2 and 3 simultaneously and complete within two years. This will require you to be able to devote 24 – 28 hours each week to your studies. We strongly recommend that you speak with a study adviser if you are considering doing this. 

If you start this qualification with Understanding global development (DD870), Route 1, and achieve a resubmission result outcome on your first submission, it will be possible to pass the module on resubmission and progress to Stage 2 in the same calendar year.

If you start with Global development in practice (D890), Route 2, this module is designed for the FutureLearn platform and it offers a different model of learning and timescales. This means that if you achieve a resubmission result outcome on your first submission, it will not be possible to pass Stage 1 and progress to Stage 2 in the same year. You will need to wait until October of the year following your first submission to start DD871.

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
  • Government policy makers
  • Development consultants
  • Business managers
  • Environmental consultants
  • Data analysis and visualisation using development techniques
  • Transport planners
  • Commercial analysts
  • Financial services
  • International Development
  • Field centre instructors
  • Teachers 

In addition, a significant number of postgraduate students choose to register for doctoral studies in variety of specialised areas. A 2017 report by the Devex development community platform notes that “Global development remains a highly competitive field, constantly demanding skilled and experienced professionals to tackle a range of challenges around the globe while keeping up with the ever-evolving nature of the sector”. It further acknowledges that “recruiters predict a growing need for local candidates, and organizations are increasingly interested in professionals from non-traditional backgrounds”.