Taught course

International Rural Development

Royal Agricultural University · Royal Agricultural University

Entry requirements

An Honours degree at upper second level. Mature candidates with significant relevant work experience and lower academic qualifications may also be considered for entry, following interview with the course manager. Students with other qualifications, including overseas awards and alternative English language qualifications, are advised to contact Admissions to discuss the suitability of their award.

Months of entry

January, October

Course content

Rural communities face a plethora of challenges; increasing population, pressure for development, the depletion of natural resources, and the impacts of peak oil production and climate change. They must therefore develop their management of natural resources and land to meet the challenges of sustainability, whilst also increasing food production. Any such development must meet the triple perspectives of economic viability, social acceptability and preservation of environmental quality.

We are confident that this course will enable you to develop the skills and knowledge to significantly contribute to rural community development.

You will be encouraged to explore factors influencing sustainability, while at the same time reflecting on your own actions and attitudes and those of others.

The following themes underpin the course:

  • Human exploitation of the Earth's resources and the global implications of human development
  • The ecological basis for sustainable natural resource utilisation, including agriculture
  • The role and function of local, national and global institutions, policies and conventions in relation to development, resource exploitation, social, cultural, ethical and inter-generation considerations
  • The application of development paradigms, models and tools to build capacity within communities, institutions and individuals


The course may be studied full-time over 12 months or part-time over two years.

You will study five core modules and three elective modules, followed by the Research Project on a topic related to one of the key themes of the course. The Research Project is introduced in January to be carried out over the summer and submitted at the end of September. It will be presented as a review of the topic and as a research paper.

In addition to lectures, you will participate in case studies, seminars and management projects. This approach fosters teamwork and complements individual study and student learning.

You will gain a broader understanding of relevant issues through knowledge acquisition, intellectual enquiry, debate, and team/individual research. The course will provide a learning environment that encourages you to explore factors influencing sustainability while at the same time reflecting on your own actions and attitudes, and those of others.

There are two entry points to the programme, either in September or in January.

September entry

Students will study four modules in the autumn term followed by four modules in the spring term, and complete their Research Project by the end of September.

January entry

Students will study four modules in the spring term, complete their Research Project by the end of September, and study four modules in the autumn term.

Modules will be taught in 10 week blocks.


  • Development Project Management
  • Poverty and Food Security
  • Agricultural and Rural Policy
  • Economics of the Environment
  • Natural Resource Appraisal
  • Research Project

Plus choice of THREE elective modules selected from:

  • Climate Change and Development
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Sustainable Rural Tourism
  • Fisheries and Aquaculture Management
  • Integrated Agricultural Systems
  • Small Scale Farming and Local Food Supply
  • Organic Agricultural Systems


MSc International Rural Development graduates have entered careers in:

  • Research and consultancy
  • Policy formulation
  • Project management

Working within:

  • International organisations
  • Government departments
  • National agencies
  • Research institutions
  • Universities
  • Commercial companies worldwide

Information for international students

For students whose first language is not English, the University will accept International English Language Test (IELTS) with a minimum score of 6.5 average with no element below 5.5. Other English language qualifications should be discussed with Admissions.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Scholarships and bursaries are available - please check our website for further details.

Qualification and course duration


part time
24 months
full time
12 months

Course contact details

Dr John Conway
01285 652531
01285 650219