Master of Science in International Rural Development

Royal Agricultural University

Program Description

Master of Science in International Rural Development

Royal Agricultural University

MSc International Rural Development

Rural communities face major challenges such as increasing population, increasing pressure for development, the impacts of peak oil production and climate change. They must therefore develop their management of natural resources and land to meet the twin challenges of sustainability whilst increasing food production. Any such development must meet the triple perspectives of economic viability, social acceptability and preservation of environmental quality.

This course explores whether this approach to food production and the management of natural resources is sustainable and what alternatives such as organic production, precision farming or even genetic modification will play in the food systems of the 21st century. It also explores the management and use of other resources available to rural communities. We are confident that this course, with its specialist pathways, will enable you to develop the skills and knowledge to significantly contribute to rural community development.

You will be involved in several team projects, including production of a magazine and organisation of a national conference.

About the Course

This MSc course meets the needs of recent graduates, those already working in rural development who wish to further their career prospects, and those seeking a career change.

You are encouraged to explore factors influencing sustainability, while at the same time reflecting on your own actions and attitudes and those of others, which we believe may be seen as reconciling three basic aspirations of society, namely:

  • Achieving economic development to secure rising standards of living both now and in the future
  • Maintaining and improving social cohesion
  • Protecting and enhancing our environment both now and in the future

The following themes underpin the course:

  • Human exploitation of the Earth's resources and the global implications of human development
  • The ecological basis for sustainable natural resource utilisation, including agriculture
  • The social / economic basis for sustainable community development
  • The role and function of local, national and global institutions, policies and conventions in relation to development, resource exploitation, social, cultural, ethical and inter-generation considerations

This is a full-time course, however you can choose to study part-time, studying 50% each year over two years, which equates to 20 hours study per week. It is not available by distance learning. The Research project can be undertaken at any time during the two years.

Choosing the right pathway

You can select up to 50% of the overall course according to your particular career aspirations by two more specialised modules, together with your research investigation.

You can choose from the specialist pathways listed, or alternatively choose any three focus modules or, subject to agreement with the Programme Director and timetable availability, two focus modules and any one other postgraduate or third year module.

  • Climate Change and Development (pathway)
  • Natural Resource Management (pathway)
  • Organic Agricultural Systems (pathway)
  • Tourism and Development (pathway)
  • Fisheries and Aquaculture Management (pathway)

Course Structure

You will study the following five core modules, and then choose three additional modules to determine the pathway. All students undertake an individual research investigation.

  • Economics of the Environment
  • Natural Resource Appraisal
  • Poverty and Food security
  • Agricultural and Rural Policy
  • Development Project Management

The eight taught modules run concurrently for the first eight months of the year with final exams in May. The research project must be submitted by the end of the following March allowing you plenty of time to conduct field research in any part of the world.

Please note, all of our degree courses begin at the end of September each year.

Entry Requirements

  • The normal minimum entry requirement will be an Honours degree at upper second level.
  • Mature candidates with significant relevant work experience and lower academic qualifications may also be considered for entry, following a personal interview with the Programme Director.
  • If your first language is not English, we will accept International English Language Test (IELTS) with a minimum score of 6.5 average with no element below 5.5.
  • If you have other qualifications, including overseas awards and alternative English language qualifications, you are advised to contact Admissions to discuss the suitability of your award for entry onto the course.

Career Prospects

Graduates from this International Rural Development MSc have secured positions within the UNDP, IFAD and various national and regional departments of agriculture or natural resources. Others have joined international and national NGOs, have been recruited by international development consultancies or have entered further or higher education (teaching and research). Indeed, over 85% of our graduates are involved in work directly related to this course.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated July 20, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Oct. 2016
12 - 18 months
Part time
Full time
Start date Oct. 2016
United Kingdom Cirencester, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Duration 12 - 18 months
Price Request Info