Taught course

Development Practice

Trinity College Dublin - the University of Dublin · School of Natural Sciences

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Entry requirements

Entry to the programme is based on competitive selection, and applicants who have excellent primary degrees in the social, health or natural sciences or management are targeted. A high upper second class honours primary degree (or grade point average [GPA] of 3.5 and above) is a general requirement for consideration for admission. In exceptional cases applicants with a lower grade for their degree will be considered if they have demonstrated outstanding achievement in their practical work in the field of international development through their work for government or inter or non-governmental organisations.

Months of entry


Course content

The Master in Development Practice (MDP) is a world leading and uniquely innovative programme that blends science and social science to further international development. It is part of a global network with a Secretariat at the Earth Institute, Columbia University in New York (and was the only programme to receive seed funding in Europe in the first round). In the programme, students are exposed to leading edge scientific and social science techniques and researchers in order to develop international development solutions. The MDP is part of the only global educational network of its kind, involving 30 universities across all continents. In it, students receive leading edge transdisciplinary training in four “pillars”- health, natural, social, management sciences and mdpglobal.org.

The MDP is led by the Trinity College Dublin (TCD) School of Natural Science and University College Dublin (UCD) School of Politics and International Relations, and delivered by staff from all faculties across the universities, in collaboration with leading scientific researchers, and national and international organisations with specialist skills. The goal is to produce rounded development practitioners with a deep understanding of scientific methods and techniques to reduce global poverty, in addition to extensive on-the-ground training in developing country contexts, and in international organizations.

The MDP has five innovative elements that distinguish it from any other M.Sc. in Ireland. It is the first joint TCD UCD degree (joint degree and parchment). Synergies between the two institutions are vital to compete and deliver at world-class level. Secondly, this innovative course utilises a modular structure to develop student capabilities to understand theories, practices, and languages of different specialities. Students develop deep analytical and practical skills across four core pillars of the programme.

Specialist skills are formed across a range of areas including research design, methodology, and methods (with training in cutting edge scientific quantitative, qualitative, and digital tools and techniques, sustainable agriculture and hand use; Development economics; Health; Gender; Climate change and Climate justice; Science, technology and sustainable development; Impact measurement; Post-conflict situations; Governance and politics; Globalisation and African development; smart cities and sustainable urbanism. Students also produce a dissertation drawing upon research conducted during fieldwork modules. These have attracted attention from policy-makers, such as the Minister of Education in Rwanda.

Thirdly, it combines a range of teaching and learning approaches both in the seminar room and in the field. Students engage in a minimum of sixteen class-room based modules and three work-based placements to gain hands-on practical experience during the programme. In year one, students undertake two placements. Firstly, students complete a research project with an Irish Based International Development Non-Governmental Organisation. Secondly, they spend up to three months completing cross-disciplinary fieldwork in a developing location. To date, students have undertaken fieldwork in Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Brazil., Malawi, India, USA, Vietnam and Madagascar.

In year two students undertake internships in leading international organisations. To date, students have taken placements with UN Women, WHO, FAO, OECD, World Bank, UNESCAP, and a multitude of other international organisations.

Fourthly, students have the opportunity to collaborate in a global community through their participation in the Global Classroom, a web-based capability, managed by the Earth Institute, to bring students and teachers from across world together to engage in collective classes and educational innovation.

Fifthly, students engage with leading experts, practitioners, and academics both in the classroom and in the field. The MDP is delivered jointly by TCD and UCD in collaboration with a number of key partners, including The Mary Robinson Climate Justice Foundation, and a wide number of national and international organisations with specialist skills in development practice. Students are jointly registered at TCD and UCD.

The course is jointly taught by University of Dublin Trinity College and University College Dublin academic staff, and a joint award at the Masters level, with an exit Postgraduate Diploma, is offered to successful graduands by both universities. Students have joint institutional registration on the course. The Admissions Committee strongly recommend early applications, especially from international students, as we are reviewing applications on a regular basis. We aim to turn around all completed applications within 20 days from date of submission (of all documents).

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Dr Susan Murphy