Specialisation Tracks

The Master in Development Studies offers three specialisation tracks:

In addition to the specialisation tracks, the Master in Development Studies also offers two clusters which can be selected as a secondary specialisation :

For details regarding specialisation selection and requirements, please visit Our Programme or consult the 2020-2021 Catalogue for the Interdisciplinary Masters.


specialisation courses For 2020-2021



Mobilities, Spaces & Cities


This specialisation track will expose students to the multiple and crosscutting challenges associated with the global mouvement of people and goods, capital and information, and how these mouvements structure the spaces they affect.

Students can choose between two required core courses in this specialisation: one on Cities, Conflict and Development, or one on Global Migration Governance. The first required course explores the relationship
between cities and development, focusing specifically on the issues of urban violence, inequality, and conflict. The second required course unveils the dynamics and tensions underlying migration governance with a focus on the UN, its main agencies and member states.

Drawing on faculty from the various disciplines represented at the Graduate Institute and visiting faculty from computer technology, environment, urban design and geography departments, the course will advance students’ technical knowledge of the multiple drivers of the global flow of people, goods and capital, such as global warming, international migration, demography, and the communication revolution, and the complex ways in which rural and urban spaces intersect to structure the material life of individuals.

A capstone project forms an integral part of the specialisation track allowing students to get involved with a key actor or institution, producing an applied research project

Cities, Spaces amd Mobilities

Mobilities, Spaces and Cities

Power, Conflict & Development


This specialisation track focuses on the issues of power, conflict and development, and the interactions among them.

Examining the nature of power and the origins and effects of armed conflict and their implications for development, the track surveys the historical and contemporary manifestations of these processes with a view to endow students with the ability to critically understand them and practically map their evolution and transformation. Specifically, students are introduced to the role of the state and non-state actors, real and symbolic power structures, the multifaceted drivers of violence, the complexity of humanitarian challenges and the politics of collective responses to them, peacebuilding issues and contexts, and regional and international conflict.

The interlocked nature of these questions, considered at the level of the individual and the community, is delved into against the background of their cross-cutting relations to contemporary international governance and their impact on socioeconomic and human development. The range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses offered seeks to develop the capacity of the students to become fully acquainted with the articulation of power dynamics analytically but equally in relation to concrete situations and environments that are affected by perpetuating, protracted or recurring armed conflict.

Built as an integral part of the track, a capstone project further exposes students to key actors and institutions involved in the prevention, mitigation and management of armed conflict.

Power, Conflict and Development_Picture

Power, Conflict and Development

Environment, Resources & Sustainability


Environmental issues lie at the heart of modern development and international politics and have become critical in the framing of programmes at all levels. This specialisation track allows students from the Master in International Affairs and the Master in Development Studies to focus on the emerging questions of environmental governance, environment, resources and sustainability/resilience.

As part of their specialisation, students are required to take at least one of the core courses, which introduce them to climate change, water, land use and resource trends and politics, examining how they modify international affairs and development paths, and exploring the dynamics between natural, societal and economic systems. They can choose from a range of elective courses to complete their specialisation.

A capstone project forms an integral part of the specialisation track allowing students to get involved with a key actor or institution, producing an applied research project.

Environment, Resources and Sustainability

Environment, Resources and Sustainability

Global Health


Global health has emerged as a central concern in development and international affairs. The relationship between health and development is at least threefold: health has an intrinsic societal goal, health as a necessary input for human and economic development, and health as an indicator of society's progress toward sustainable development. Health is also a fundamental aspect of international affairs: health is a central component of human security, an outcome of global governance processes in and outside the health sector (e.g. security, trade, investment, migration, environment) in an increasingly interdependent world, and a potential threat to international peace and economic stability.

Studying global health also sheds light on broader aspects of development and international affairs: global health has been a site of growing investment, comprising a tenth of the global economy; social and technological experimentation that has generated innovative approaches to addressing public challenges; and an area filled with a dense network of institutions, states and non-state actors. Although health has traditionally been framed as a medical or technical issue, it is increasingly recognised that protecting global health requires also taking into consideration governance, politics, culture, history, law and economics.

This specialisation cluster will provide students with an understanding of global health, from the "micro" level of individuals and communities, the "meso" level of countries and organisations, and the "macro" level of the global system. The specialisation will train students to analyse and address global health challenges through courses that explore the historical development of global health, its legal and normative frameworks, the actors and policy processes that govern it, and the social and technological developments that drive it.

Global Health

Global Health



Gender is a key organising principle of human societies, founding inequalities, exploitations, and exclusions of many kinds. Social movements around the world have long sought to combat discrimination based on gender and its intersections with sexual orientation, race, class, and other status distinctions. Today there are a range of policies and laws geared towards accomplishing this goal, often with varying effects. We are also witnessing a virulent backlash to struggles for equality in conjunction with populist rhetoric.

The Gender specialisation applies a critical gender lens to issues of economic development, violent conflict, human rights, global health, decolonisation, and reproductive politics, making visible the way power relations based on multiple axes of difference inhabit these phenomena. It also explores movement politics and policy interventions, tracking their successes and conundrums.

The goal of this specialisation is to teach students the history and politics of struggles for equality, and to equip them with the theoretical and methodological tools to analyse oppression in its diverse form.

Gender cluster test