Specialisation Tracks

The Master in Development Studies offers three specialisation tracks:

The Environment, Resources and Sustainability specialisation is offered in both the Master in Development Studies and the Master in International Affairs,  which is a reflection of the Institute’s strong resources in these areas, as well as of the great urgency environmental questions have for the future of humanity. 

Each specialisation track consists of two core courses and a number of disciplinary and interdisciplinary electives specific to the specialisation. Students also participate in a Capstone Project respective to their selected specialisation.

In addition to the specialisation tracks, the Master in Development Studies offers two specialisation clusters in Global Health and Gender. 


specialisation courses For 2019-20



Mobilities, Spaces & Cities


This specialisation track will expose students to the multiple and crosscutting challenges associated with the global movement of people and goods, capital and information, and how these movements structure the spaces they affect. A core course will introduce students to the history and critical theories of capitalism and globalisation, as well as the conceptual frameworks and methodological tools to critically assess its fundamental logic.

Drawing on faculty from the various disciplines represented at the Institute and visiting faculty from computer technology, environment, urban design and geography departments, the course will advance student’s technical knowledge of the multiple drivers of the global flow of people, goods and capital, such as global warming, international migration, demography, the communication revolution, and the complex ways in which rural and urban spaces intersect to structure the material life of individuals. The disciplinary courses and the electives will further deepen this knowledge, while a case-based teaching course will acquaint students with a number of concrete urban and rural settings that can facilitate social contestation and political revolution. During the capstone projects, students have the opportunity to conduct field-based research at sites that are affected by mobility, thereby developing a sense of the social life of such spaces, and the effects of spatial dynamics on questions of identity and social practice.

Cities, Spaces amd Mobilities
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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 explored 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.


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Power, Conflict and Development

Environment, Resources & Sustainability


Environmental issues are becoming more salient for international relations and are critical now in livelihood and for framing of development programmes at all scales. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals chart this vision for international relations, but innumerable local, regional and nation state programmes structure their development strategies through environmental policies and practices. The advancement of those visions depends critically on knowledge, cutting-edge policy development and innovation at all levels.

The track offers an opportunity to focus on the emerging questions of governance, environment, resources and sustainability/resilience. As part of their specialisation, students are required to take a core course of the track, which introduces them to multidisciplinary debates and concepts, related to these questions. Elective courses are organised in thematic clusters. However, students are free to choose electives, either within one of the four clusters, if they are interested in developing a specific type of expertise, or across the clusters offered in the track.

Environment, Resources and Sustainability
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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 track 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 track 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
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Global Health