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MPhil in Development Studies

Enquiries about the MPhil in Development Studies should be addressed to the Graduate Student Administrator, admissions@qeh.ox.ac.uk

The aim of this course is to provide a rigorous and critical introduction to development as a process of change and of managed change in societies on the periphery of the global economy.  The course exposes students to development studies as both an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary subject. Attention is paid to the intellectual history of development, the paradigm shifts and internal conflicts within the discipline, and the contemporary relevance of research to development policy and practice. The course is not designed for direct training in development practice or the management of development projects, but the critical enquiry emphasised in the course is crucial for the proper performance of such tasks. The course lasts for two years and normally admits about 30 students each year. In 2012 it received around six applications for each place.

In the first year, students receive a theoretical and applied grounding in two out of three foundation subject areas: economics, history and politics, and social anthropology. Students with no previous training in economics are required to take economics as one of their foundation disciplines. The foundation courses are examined through a written examinations towards the end of the first year. A pass in these examinations is a pre-requisite for progressing to the second year.

Students are also required to take a course in research methods for the social sciences. This course is also examined at the end of the first year but the marks are carried forward and form part of the final marks awarded for the degree.

The core course is an inter- and multi-disciplinary course, comprising three components:

  • theories of development, social change and the state
  • major themes in development
  • international dimensions of development

Competence in the core course is tested through three assessed essays, two in the first year and one in the second. The marks awarded form part of the final marks for the degree.

Students normally spend the summer between the first and second years working on their thesis. The topic is of their own choosing with the agreement and guidance of their supervisor, and the thesis should be not more than 30,000 words in length including footnotes. It is submitted for examination towards the end of the second year.

Also in the second year, students take two courses from an extensive list of options. Each option is examined through a written examination at the end of the second year. The marks awarded for the thesis and the options form part of the final marks for the degree.

A student wishing to read for the MPhil in Development Studies has to be accepted first by the Department and then by a College. At least a good upper second class honours degree in a social science from a British University (or its equivalent elsewhere) is normally required. However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first class degree or its equivalent (such as a 3.8 GPA in the USA).

As one of the purposes of the course is to provide a basic education in the subject, in exceptional cases students who have not specialised in a social science may be admitted to read for the MPhil in Development Studies. It should be recognised that for some students the transition to a social studies approach to learning may not be easy. Relevant experience in developing countries is also desirable.

In their Statement of Study Plans, applicants for admission to the MPhil must state in what way they believe the MPhil might contribute to their career development plans. They must also indicate an awareness of the structure of the degree, by stating the foundation courses that they might take in the first year, and the options which might be of interest in the second year. Applicants should also indicate – very briefly – what their thesis topic might be.

Please refer to the How to Apply page and the Graduate Studies Prospectus for information on application deadlines and English language requirements. It is essential for applicants to apply early and respect the deadlines.

On completion, some students have continued with doctoral research in Oxford or elsewhere, while others have obtained jobs in the United Nations, government, NGOs, the media, business, finance and development consultancies. Students who are admitted to the DPhil in Development Studies after the MPhil are expected to complete their doctoral research in two further years plus time needed for fieldwork.

For further information on the kinds of careers our students pursue, see the ODID Graduates page.

Introduction

The aim of this course is to provide a rigorous and critical introduction to development as a process of change and of managed change in societies on the periphery of the global economy.  The course exposes students to development studies as both an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary subject. Attention is paid to the intellectual history of development, the paradigm shifts and internal conflicts within the discipline, and the contemporary relevance of research to development policy and practice. The course is not designed for direct training in development practice or the management of development projects, but the critical enquiry emphasised in the course is crucial for the proper performance of such tasks. The course lasts for two years and normally admits about 30 students each year. In 2012 it received around six applications for each place.

Structure

In the first year, students receive a theoretical and applied grounding in two out of three foundation subject areas: economics, history and politics, and social anthropology. Students with no previous training in economics are required to take economics as one of their foundation disciplines. The foundation courses are examined through a written examinations towards the end of the first year. A pass in these examinations is a pre-requisite for progressing to the second year.

Students are also required to take a course in research methods for the social sciences. This course is also examined at the end of the first year but the marks are carried forward and form part of the final marks awarded for the degree.

The core course is an inter- and multi-disciplinary course, comprising three components:

  • theories of development, social change and the state
  • major themes in development
  • international dimensions of development

Competence in the core course is tested through three assessed essays, two in the first year and one in the second. The marks awarded form part of the final marks for the degree.

Students normally spend the summer between the first and second years working on their thesis. The topic is of their own choosing with the agreement and guidance of their supervisor, and the thesis should be not more than 30,000 words in length including footnotes. It is submitted for examination towards the end of the second year.

Also in the second year, students take two courses from an extensive list of options. Each option is examined through a written examination at the end of the second year. The marks awarded for the thesis and the options form part of the final marks for the degree.

Entry Requirements

A student wishing to read for the MPhil in Development Studies has to be accepted first by the Department and then by a College. At least a good upper second class honours degree in a social science from a British University (or its equivalent elsewhere) is normally required. However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first class degree or its equivalent (such as a 3.8 GPA in the USA).

As one of the purposes of the course is to provide a basic education in the subject, in exceptional cases students who have not specialised in a social science may be admitted to read for the MPhil in Development Studies. It should be recognised that for some students the transition to a social studies approach to learning may not be easy. Relevant experience in developing countries is also desirable.

In their Statement of Study Plans, applicants for admission to the MPhil must state in what way they believe the MPhil might contribute to their career development plans. They must also indicate an awareness of the structure of the degree, by stating the foundation courses that they might take in the first year, and the options which might be of interest in the second year. Applicants should also indicate – very briefly – what their thesis topic might be.

Please refer to the How to Apply page and the Graduate Studies Prospectus for information on application deadlines and English language requirements. It is essential for applicants to apply early and respect the deadlines.

Careers

On completion, some students have continued with doctoral research in Oxford or elsewhere, while others have obtained jobs in the United Nations, government, NGOs, the media, business, finance and development consultancies. Students who are admitted to the DPhil in Development Studies after the MPhil are expected to complete their doctoral research in two further years plus time needed for fieldwork.

For further information on the kinds of careers our students pursue, see the ODID Graduates page.

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Photo: H Feuer, MPhil 2006-08

Related Information

Teaching Awards

The following staff, who teach on the MPhil in Development Studies, have won Oxford University Teaching Awards:

The awards recognise excellence in teaching and learning.

 

International Development: increasing well-being and reducing inequality in global society