MSc in Development Management

The Open University

Program Description

MSc in Development Management

The Open University

MSc in Development Management

This MSc is for anyone with a professional and/or personal interest in development and a desire to bring about good change. It addresses the needs both of those who would label themselves development managers, and those, such as engineers, health workers, educationists, agriculturalists, bankers, scientists, who need the capacity to manage development if they are to do their work effectively. It engages with development at all levels, from the local to the global, and is as relevant in rural as in urban contexts. It addresses development in diverse fields, including health and well-being, livelihoods, education, the environment, war and resettlement, infrastructure, with the issues of poverty and inequality running through all. It takes theory seriously; consciously and constantly linking it to practice and policy, looking to enhance the competence of individuals and the capacity of agencies to undertake development successfully.

This MSc is the major qualification in our development management programme. It is designed for anyone in government, non-governmental organisations, international and inter-governmental agencies and public and private enterprises, who have responsibility for development interventions, programmes and policies. It is also of value for anyone wishing to move into such areas, or who for personal and/or professional reasons wants to build up a better understanding of the complex processes labelled ‘development’, with a view to managing those processes better. It deliberately links development management theory with the realities of development policy and practice, and aims to equip those undertaking it to be better agents of development.

It provides a range of opportunities for you to:

  • build up knowledge and understanding of how development theory, policy and practice have themselves developed, and a critical appreciation of the ways in which development is managed
  • explore key development issues, including poverty, inequality, complex emergencies, migration, health, employment and livelihoods, education, governance, and the relationships between the agencies who undertake development
  • examine and practise the use of tools that contribute to situational and stakeholder analysis, participation, project and programme planning, implementation and evaluation
  • develop key skills necessary for managing development, in particular the skills of strategic thinking and planning, relationship building, mapping and modelling, negotiation and brokering, and the research and associated skills required to build up an evidence-based understanding of development management problems and to make a case for change
  • share learning with students drawn from over 100 countries working in diverse development fields
  • critically reflect on development management theory, policy and practice, not least your own.

Throughout the MSc you are encouraged to make connexions between your learning on the MSc and your own involvement in development.

The MSc is the highest level of qualification in our development management programme, which also offers a Postgraduate Certificate in Development Management (C48), Postgraduate Certificate in Conflict and Development (C67), Postgraduate Certificate in Human Rights and Development (C96) and Postgraduate Diploma in Development Management (D37). All of these can serve as building blocks for the MSc.

Educational aims

The MSc degree aims to:

  • enhance knowledge of the changing dynamics of development policy and management
  • expand the conceptual and practical skills for taking an international perspective on management
  • combine study of development management with special areas of organisational management, environment and social policy
  • facilitate critical and creative thinking about multi-organisational and institutional development.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Knowledge and understanding are gained from supported open learning core course texts, associated readings, audio CDs and DVDs. Core module texts are designed to guide you gradually through concepts and practical examples. You will have the opportunity to engage in regular learning activities that allow you to assess your progress and understanding.

Cognitive (or thinking) and key skills are developed throughout the module texts, associated readings and in two published textbooks written for the programme. These skills are further enhanced through critical examination of case studies and examples and through the in-text activities.

Professional/practical skills are reinforced through activities and assessment questions that require personal reflection.

Tutors who are selected for their knowledge of the subject areas and experience in its practical application support your learning by phone, letter, fax, email, or email conference when required.

The core modules in the diploma and also many elective modules make extensive use of electronic working in delivery, assessment, tutor–student support and student–student support. Students from the UK and worldwide are therefore able to study this programme whilst remaining in full-time employment.

The above knowledge, understanding and skills are assessed formally via the regular assignments and an examinable component at the end of each module. Your understanding and skills are reinforced by support from tutors in the form of feedback based on your assignment answers. The examinable component is an unseen examination or an end-of-module essay/report.

The Development management project module that you normally take to complete your MSc requires that you develop a project proposal on a topic of your choice, to study in depth within the area of development management. You are supported by a project supervisor and produce four continuously assessed reports that lead to a final project report of 10, 000 words.

The project, mandatory for the award of MSc, provides an extended opportunity for you, working on your own initiative, to further demonstrate and be assessed on the above knowledge, understanding and skills that have been developed throughout the programme.

The University wishes to emphasise that, while every effort is made to regularly update this site, the material on it is subject to alteration or amendment in the light of changes in regulations or in policy or of financial or other necessity.

Career impact

The MSc facilitates the building up of a range of competences that are vital for people engaged in development and for the agencies, in all sectors, that employ them.

These competences, which cover the whole range of development management processes, from problem identification, through policy development, project and programme design, planning and implementation, to evaluation and critical assessment, are of various kinds. They include:

  • knowledge and understanding of particular development problems – most obviously poverty and inequality – and of ways of thinking about and responding to these problems
  • strategic thinking, including mapping and modelling skills, both about development problems and about the relationships, particularly between organisations, that are required to manage these problems and bring about solutions
  • negotiation and brokering skills that make possible joint action in contexts characterised by differences, often conflicts, of interests, values, meanings and agendas
  • practical skills for creating, establishing and evaluating development policy, projects and programmes
  • research skills that are fundamental for establishing evidence-based policy and practice.

Also throughout the MSc you will be encouraged to develop the critical reflection that is essential if policy and practice are to be improved.

Given this, you can be confident of the value of your MSc to any organisation concerned with bringing about good change.

Read more about this programme on the Open University website here

This school offers programs in:
  • English
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