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MSc in Development Management

This MSc course is part of 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).

The MSc course is for:

  • Professionals in project management and those who have responsibility for development initiatives in government, non-governmental organisations, international and inter-governmental agencies and public and private enterprises.
  • People who intend to work in those areas, or who have an interest in public action for development.
  • Those who want to combine important elements of development and management.
  • Those who want to expand their conceptual and practical skills by taking an international perspective on management.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Career relevance and employability

The MSc consolidates and extends the learning built up through the postgraduate diploma. The final project module, provides an opportunity to apply academic discipline to a development management problem, acquire research skills to deepen understanding of that problem (and to 'find out fast' more generally), and use learning from earlier modules to make a case for change in policy and/or practice. Typically, the problem you investigate is one linked to your professional practice, making for an 'applied' conclusion to the learning. With this experience, adding to competencies nurtured through the whole of your MSc study, you can be confident of its value to any organisation concerned with bringing about good change.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this 180-credit masters degree you require:

120 credits from the Postgraduate Diploma in Development Management (D37)

And 30 credits from one additional module from the Postgraduate Diploma programme

And 30 credits from the following compulsory module:

Postgraduate compulsory module Credits Next start
The development management project (TU874)

Integrate your knowledge of development management with an example current practice, through a research project focusing on your own concerns and experience.

See full description.

30 May

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules TUXX874, TUZX874

If you have not already included 30 credits of postgraduate study from another masters degree programme in your postgraduate diploma, you have the option of counting this study against your masters degree instead of studying 30 credits from the optional modules. Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service for further information.

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.

Learning outcomes

The programme leading to this MSc degree provides opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas.

Knowledge and understanding

  • development management as a process of steering social change involving multiple actors
  • different discourses about development management and institutional development, their history, utility and limitations
  • public action and new approaches to public management
  • the possibilities and limitations of tools for development project design planning and evaluation
  • the possibilities and limitations of methods of investigation aimed at informing development policy and action
  • the importance of learning approaches to developing capacities of development managers, organisations and beneficiaries of interventions
  • the major areas, and critical awareness of, current debate in institutional development and the values and meaning underlying these debates, including in governance, poverty reduction and growth, and humanitarian interventions in complex emergencies
  • the relationship between environmental, technological, social and economic approaches and practices of development management
  • through the Development Management Project module that is normally taken at the end of your study, develop a comprehensive understanding of a range of research methods for a particular research problem.

Cognitive skills

On completion of this MSc degree you will be able to:

  • use and evaluate a range of tools associated with project design and planning and with clarifying and focusing development interventions
  • design investigations involving appropriate use of different methods for information gathering and interpretation
  • analyse and reflect on the assumptions behind interventions and critically assess the performance of interventions
  • use and reflect on the use of taking a public action frame to think strategically about the fragmentation and integration of development interventions
  • analyse and reflect on the discourses, debates, and frameworks of development management
  • critically examine the importance of interorganisational relationships in institutional development and the significance of competition, coordination and cooperation in these relationships
  • assess the role and use of negotiation and brokering in the context of institutional development intervention
  • use maps and models to organise and represent thoughts as a means of building shared understanding for action.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this MSc degree you will be able to:

  • appreciate your own position with respect to the institutional and organisational contexts in which development management takes place, and appreciate the experiences and viewpoints of other development managers
  • apply and differentiate between concepts, frameworks, planning tools and investigative methods in practical and/or professional development management contexts
  • locate yourself in the discourses, frameworks and landscapes of development management policy and practice
  • identify stakeholders in a development management situation
  • appreciate the intra- and inter-organisational dilemmas and difficulties facing development managers attempting public action
  • build interpersonal skills of negotiation and brokering.

Key skills

On completion of this MSc degree you will be able to:

  • develop the ability to advance your own knowledge, understanding, and performance through independent learning
  • communicate effectively knowledge, ideas, techniques and conclusions about development management
  • support arguments with evidence (including the use of a range of primary and secondary source materials
  • design investigations involving appropriate choice and use of different methods
  • build negotiation and brokering skills that facilitate the management of development by enabling people and organisations to work more effectively together
  • model programmes, projects, organisations and institutions
  • map, as a means of organising thoughts and developing different views and approaches to action
  • through the Development management project module that is normally taken at the end of your study:
    • search literature and other information that informs the theory and practice of development management
    • collect and analyse data around a specific development management issue that is currently significant in professional practice.

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