University of Oxford Development Studies
The two-year MPhil in Development Studies will provide you with a rigorous and critical introduction to development as a process of managed and unmanaged change in societies in the global South. The course is an excellent preparation for a career in development policy or practice or for further study in the field.
The course will introduce you to development studies as an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary subject. It covers 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 comprises five elements: foundation courses, research methods, the core course, the thesis and two option courses.
In the first year, you will study two out of three foundation courses:
- History and Politics
- Social Anthropology
If you have no previous training in economics you must take this as one of your foundation courses; otherwise you must take the other two.
You will also follow a course in research methods for the social sciences, comprising sessions on research design and qualitative and quantitative methods. Additional sessions will be held on aspects of fieldwork ethics and preparation, library resources and software and computerised databases.
The core course, also taken in the first year, is an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary course with two component modules:
- Ideas about Development
- Key Themes in Development
You will spend the summer following your first year working on a 30,000-word thesis. You will choose the topic, with the guidance of your supervisor, and, in most cases, spend some of the summer doing fieldwork and gathering data.
In the second year, you will take your chosen option courses and continue work on your thesis. More information can be found in the course handbook.
Each course entails three to five hours of teaching per week, delivered through lectures, classes and workshops. Class sizes are small – between 5 and 30 students – encouraging active participation and enabling students to learn from each other. You prepare for sessions by reading a selection of recommended books, book chapters and articles.
You will be allocated a general supervisor who will support your academic development and with whom you will meet regularly. Allocation is based on your research interests, optimal fit with the supervisor’s expertise, and staff availability. Where dissertation supervision requires expertise that is not available among the core staff, an additional dissertation supervisor will be identified. You will also have a college advisor whom you may consult on issues concerning your personal wellbeing.
There will be a set of on-course assessments, including formative essays. These will provide you with an opportunity to explore topics you find of interest and to practice essay-writing skills.
Formal assessment will normally comprise a three-hour written examination at the beginning of the third term for each foundation course; a three-hour written examination at the end of the third term and a research design essay, submitted in the same term, for research methods; and two 5,000-word essays for the core course. You must pass all examinations to continue into Year 2. There is an opportunity to re-sit in September.
Formal assessment will comprise a three-hour examination for each option course at the end of the final term and the thesis, submitted at the beginning of the final term.
A number of MPhil students choose to continue to doctoral study after completing the course, taking their MPhil thesis and expanding it further into a DPhil thesis. Others have gone on to jobs in the United Nations, government, NGOs, the media, business, finance and development consultancies.
The department provides support for alumni in their career development by maintaining an online network through which information about employment opportunities is disseminated.
Read more about the kinds of careers the department’s students pursue on the ODID Alumni page.
“My education in Oxford not only contributed to my intellectual development and increased my confidence to work in challenging, intense and competitive environments, it has also continued to open doors for me professionally. The University is respected globally and the extensive and powerful alumni network is a valuable asset for all new graduates.” Shaharzad Akbar, graduated 2011.