School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences

Development Studies

PhD student Ed Challies with raspberry growers in South America.

About Development Studies

Development Studies seeks to explain the enormous differences in peoples’ living standards across the world and to do something about them.  The programme examines the theories and practices associated with inequalities in world development, using multi-disciplinary approaches.  It is concerned with the processes and relationships between people and institutions at different scales – from local, small-scale communities, through to national government agencies and international organisations.

Particular attention is paid to the relationships between 'developed' and 'developing' societies, the roles played by various institutions within them and their effects on processes of social, political, economic and environmental transformation.  

Development Studies concerns issues of contemporary relevance to the world today including:

  • Poverty
  • Inequality
  • Globalisation
  • Gender equity
  • Environmental change
  • Participation and democracy
  • Human rights
  • International aid

Our programme is accessible to graduates from a wide range of disciplines and occupations. People with work experience in community and international development are strongly encouraged to apply, especially those with a background in the Asia Pacific region. 

Students are encouraged to spend some time overseas in a developing country as part of their postgraduate study and Masters students usually complete a research thesis based on work in a developing country. Students have undertaken research in places as diverse as Ethiopia, East Timor, Brazil, Chile, Bhutan, South Korea, Malaysia, Samoa and Rapanui. 

The MDevStud degree seeks to enhance the ability of graduate students to contribute as professionals to development practice worldwide.

Careers

Many of our graduates find employment working within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, particularly on particular ‘desks’ in the South Pacific. Others occupy key positions in various NZ-based international development NGOs like the Council for International Development, Volunteer Services Abroad, Save the Children, and Family Planning International, Unicef.  Within New Zealand, some apply their knowledge to local or national community development via positions as policy advisors, research officers and community outreach workers for government departments and agencies like Women’s Affairs and Te Puni Kokori, regional and city councils, community-based organisations such as the Welsey City Mission, Changemakers Refugee Forum and Vibe Youth Centre.  Internationally, graduates occupy positions as consultants working for UN agencies and international organisations like the Asia Development Bank, as well as international NGOs like 360.org.

Potential Projects

All students are urged to plan their course of study with the Director of Development Studies before enrolment, as well as during the course of their programme.

Click here to see a list of potential projects.

More Information