Master of Philosophy in Development Studies

(See also the general notice at the commencement of these regulations.)

The regulations made by the Graduate Studies Committee are as follows:

  • 1. Candidates for admission must apply to the Graduate Studies Committee. They will be required to produce evidence of their appropriate qualifications for the proposed course.

  • 2. Candidates must follow for six terms courses of instruction as laid down for the M.Phil. in Development Studies by the Graduate Studies Committee.

  • 3. Candidates will be admitted to take the examination as defined below in a specific year. In exceptional circumstances candidates may be allowed to take an examination later than the one to which they were admitted. Permission for this must be sought from the Proctors through the candidate’s college.

  • 4. The registration of candidates shall lapse from the Register of M.Phil. Students on the last day of Trinity Term of their second academic year.

  • 5. Qualifying Test

    • 5.1 Every candidate must pass a qualifying test in two foundation papers to be taken at the start of the Trinity Term of the first year of study.

    • 5.2. The qualifying test will be set and administered by the examiners appointed to examine for the M.Phil. in Development Studies. Candidates must enter themselves for the qualifying test [For students starting before MT 2016: via their Colleges] [For students starting from MT 2016: online].

    • 5.3. Candidates may select the two foundation papers which they offer from the list set out below except that candidates with a non-economics background are required to include Economics as one of the two papers and candidates are not permitted, except with the permission of the Graduate Studies Committee, to offer a paper in the subject of their bachelor's degree.

      • (i) History and Politics

        Topics may include the themes of state formation and development; encounters between different civilisations; colonialism, collaboration, and resistance; nationalism, decolonisation; class formation, gender relations, and the formation of political identities; politics and policy. Students will be expected to show knowledge of developments in countries from more than one of the following regions: Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

      • (ii) Economics

        [For students starting before MT 2016: Topics may include the basic elements of macro- and micro-analysis for open, less developed, economies; national income accounting and analysis; macro-economic policy, theories of inflation and growth; supply and demand; theories of the firm; the functioning of markets, externalities and other market failures; theories of international trade; trade policy, exchange rates, and balance of payments management; the operation of the international monetary system. The emphasis will be on concepts and their application in the context of development. ]

      • [For students starting from MT 2016: The course focuses on the way economists think about development. Topics may include key concepts in economics (e.g. opportunity costs, the role of incentives) and applications to developing countries. The goal is to provide students with an understanding of economics as a discipline that speaks to other social sciences and that can help explain some of the recurring patterns that we see in developing countries.]

      • (iii) Social Anthropology

        Topics may include the perspectives of anthropology upon social change[For students starting from MT 2016: , modernity, progress and commonwealth]; personhood and well-being; social and personal agency; authority and responsibility in the field of productive activity; marriage, kinship, family and gender in theory and practice; [For students starting before MT 2016: agencies of managed change and their interaction with local communities.] [For students starting from MT 2016: technological innovations; development planning and identity struggles.]

    • 5.4. A candidate who fails to pass the qualifying test may be permitted to retake the test before the beginning of the first week of the next academic year. Candidates shall retake only the failed component of the qualifying test.

    • 5.5. Only candidates who have passed the qualifying test may proceed to the second year of the course.

  • 6. Core Course in Development Studies

    [For students starting before MT 2016: Candidates must pursue a core course in development studies which runs throughout the two years of the degree. The core course covers the following three aspects: (i) social theory and development theory, (ii) analysis of major interdisciplinary issues, and (iii) international dimensions of development. Issues which may be included are, under (i) the intellectual origins and legacies of development; under (ii) the agrarian question; industrialisation; urbanisation; gender, ethnicity, culture and development and environmental aspects of development; and under (iii) finance, trade, aid, information technology, the United Nations and global governance.]

  • [For students starting from MT 2016: Candidates must pursue a core course in development studies which is taught in the first year of the degree. The core course covers the following aspects: (i) ideas about development: social, political and development theory, and (ii) key themes in development such as agrarian change, urbanisation, social policy, sustainable development, states and governance, and technology and innovation.]

  • 7. Final Examination

    • 7.1. The final examination shall consist of the following:

      • (a) One written paper on Research Methods which is taken at the end of the Trinity Term of the first year of study. Questions will be set on: Epistemology of social science, social science paradigms; ethics and values; quantitative methods; the presentation of statistical information, hypothesis testing; research design; sampling theory; questionnaire design; the critical reading of documents; participant observation; action research; rapid research; evaluation research.

        A candidate who fails to pass the paper in Research Methods may, at the discretion of the Development Studies Committee, be permitted to retake the paper before the beginning of the first week of the next academic year. Only candidates who have passed the paper in Research Methods may proceed to the second year of the course.

      • (b) One research design essay of 3,000-5,000 words, assessed by the examiners appointed to examine for the M.Phil. in Development Studies. Candidates are required to submit the essay in Trinity Term of the first year of study. In the event of a candidate’s failing the essay, it must be rewritten, resubmitted and a pass mark awarded before the candidate may proceed to the second year of the course. The research design essay and the written paper in (a) above shall each constitute 50 per cent of the marks available for the examination of the candidate’s knowledge of research methods.

      • [For students starting before MT 2016: (c) Three core course essays assessed by the examiners appointed to examine for the M.Phil. in Development Studies. Candidates are required to submit these essays at specified intervals over the two years of the course. The topics to be covered in these essays must fall within the three themes (one per essay) included in the core course in development studies: social theory and development; major interdisciplinary issues; and the international dimension of development. Candidates must pass all three essays. In the event of a candidate's failing either or both essays submitted in the first year of the course, either or both must be rewritten, resubmitted and a pass mark awarded before the candidate may proceed to the second year of the course. In the event of a candidate’s failing the third essay, submitted in the second year of the course, it must be rewritten, resubmitted and a pass-mark awarded before the candidate can be deemed to have successfully completed the course.]

      • [For students starting from MT 2016: (c) Two core course essays assessed by the examiners appointed to examine for the M.Phil. in Development Studies. Candidates are required to submit these essays at specified intervals in the first year of the course. The topics to be covered in these essays must fall within the two components (one per essay) included in the core course in development studies: ideas about development: social, political and development theory;  and key themes in development. Candidates must pass both essays. In the event of a candidate's failing either or both essays, either or both must be rewritten, resubmitted and a pass mark awarded before the candidate may proceed to the second year of the course.]

      • (d) A thesis of not more than 30,000 words (excluding bibliography but including footnotes and appendices) on a topic approved by the M.Phil. Teaching Committee, to which the Graduate Studies Committee delegates this function.

        The thesis must be on a topic in the general field of development studies. The topic of the thesis must be chosen in consultation with and with the approval of the candidate's supervisor. If a separate thesis supervisor is required, he or she must have agreed to undertake the supervision prior to the approval of the topic as specified above.

      • (e) One written paper selected from a range of optional papers. Details of the optional papers available will be notified during the first year of the course. Candidates may include subjects offered in other relevant masters degrees in the University, subject to permission from the relevant graduate studies committee and from the M.Phil. Teaching Committee. Applications to do this must normally be made by the first Friday of Trinity Term in the student’s first year.

      • (f) One further written paper selected from a range of optional papers, or offered in other relevant masters degrees in the University with the provisos specified in section 7.1 (e) above.

    • 7.2. Theses must be delivered to the Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford not later than the Friday of the first week of the Trinity Full Term in which the examination is to be taken.

    • 7.3. Failure in one or more components of the final examination results in failure of the degree. The examiners may permit candidates to re-take the examination of the failed component(s) in Trinity Term of the following academic year. In the case of a failed dissertation, the dissertation must be re-submitted in Trinity Term of the following year. Viva voce examinations are not used for this course.

    • 7.4. The examiners may award a Distinction for excellence in the whole examination.