M.A. Development Studies


Program Description

The programme addresses the worldwide need for experts in the expanding field of development research as well as for project managers in international development cooperation.

Who should study this degree programme?
This programme is particularly suitable for students with a first degree in social science and mid-career professionals in any development-related field. Qualified students from developing and emerging countries are particularly welcome.


  • Programme entirely taught in English
  • Strong focus on quantitative and qualitative methods
  • Field research opportunities
  • Unique selection of language courses

Career prospects

Graduates are have a wide range of potential career paths within the development field, such as:

  • programme managers for local and international development organisations, including government agencies, non-governmental organisations and community groups
  • policymakers at bilateral and multilateral organisations, such as GIZ, the World Bank and the United Nations, as well as for civil society advocacy groups
  • as researchers and doctoral students, taking the academic career path

Programme syllabus

Module area A: Foundation (15 ECTS credits)

The module group ‘Foundation Modules’ consists of two examination modules that must be completed by all students:

  • Methods and theories of development research
  • Interdisciplinary development seminar

Module area B: Research (at least 25 ECTS credits)

The module group ‘Research Methods’ consists of modules about research methods as well as a research seminar and two research colloquia. Students must earn a minimum of 25 ECTS credits in this module group to proceed. Completion of the research seminar and the colloquia is compulsory for all students on the programme. Apart from the colloquia, all modules in this group are examination modules.

  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Research seminar
  • Development studies colloquia

Module area C: Specialisation (at least 45 ECTS credits)

You are required to complete at least one module each from three of the five module groups forming the core subject areas. You will specialise in a field or further consolidate your knowledge by completing additional modules. All modules in this module area are examination modules. The module groups forming the core subject areas are:

  • Economics
  • Southeast Asian Studies
  • Sociology and Politics
  • Sustainability and Resources
  • Geographies of Development

Module area D: Transfer (15 ECTS credits)

While you can choose most of the modules in this area, the Applied development studies module is compulsory for all students. You can complete this module either as an individual research project supervised by an examiner from Module Area C: Specialisation or as an internship supervised by the chairperson of the Board of Examiners. The modules available in this group are:

  • Applied development studies
  • Foreign language module
  • Development studies in perspective
  • Development studies in perspective I
  • Development studies in perspective II

Master's thesis (25 ECTS credits)

You will write a master's thesis in English in one of the module groups chosen in Module Area C: Specialisation

Study focus

You have the option of placing a study focus on one of the following areas by accumulating a sufficient number of ECTS credits in specific modules. For details, refer to the Infosheet or the study and examination regulations. Upon completion of the programme, your study focus which will be indicated in your final transcript. Available study focus areas:

  • Southeast Asian Studies
  • Economics
  • Sustainability

Academic entry requirements

A first (bachelor’s or equivalent) university degree in a social science, i.e. economics, anthropology, demography, empirical social or human geography, sociology, political science, administrative science or any other equivalent degree with a minimum of 60 ECTS credits in one or several of these disciplines. Any past achievements and qualifications gained in 'Wirtschaftswissenschaften' (combined business and economics programmes) must be derived specifically from economics ('Volkswirtschaftslehre') modules. This first degree must have been obtained as part of a programme of study with a minimum standard duration of three years' full-time study.

Out of the 60 ECTS credits referenced above, 10 ECTS credits (or a minimum of 300 hours of coursework) must come from empirical research methods, such as data collection, data analysis, mathematics and/or statistics. A general course in research methods is not enough and does not count in this case. The final grade of for your undergraduate degree should be equivalent to 2.5 or better according to the German marking scale or ranked among the best 50% of your cohort.

Last updated Jan 2020

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About the School

Since opening its doors to the public in 1978, the University of Passau has quickly developed into a first address in German academia. The University regularly attains top positions in academic rankin ... Read More

Since opening its doors to the public in 1978, the University of Passau has quickly developed into a first address in German academia. The University regularly attains top positions in academic rankings, most recently in the TImes Higher Education's 2019 World University Rankings, where it attained a place among the 20% best universities worldwide. Read less