Research course

Development Studies

University of Sussex · School of Global Studies

Entry requirements

A Masters degree in any relevant social science. In exceptional circumstances, candidates with other backgrounds may be considered. Applicants must submit an outline research proposal of two to three pages indicating the nature, ambitions and primary questions of the project.

Applicants must have substantial professional work experience in a developing country or in development- related work

Months of entry

January, October, April

Course content

  • PhD in Development Studies (Global Studies)
  • PhD in Development Studies (IDS)
  • MPhil in Development Studies (Global Studies)

MPhil and PhD in Development Studies (School of Global Studies)

We welcome enquiries from students wishing to undertake research in any areas of faculty interest.

Research students are required to complete a programme of research methods training. This may involve enrolling on the MSc in Social Research Methods – a stand-alone Masters degree – before proceeding to a PhD. This is known as a 1+3 degree. Students who have already completed research methods training can apply for the three-year doctoral degree leading to a PhD.

Coursework and supervision

Whether you start the three-year PhD or the 1+3 MSc/PhD course, you are normally required to complete some research methods training modules and possibly some specialist thematic modules drawn from the MA degrees. You are allocated two academic supervisors with whom you work for the duration of your research course. These are allocated according to their regional and thematic expertise, to provide a complementary ‘match’ with your research.


Research degrees usually involve fieldwork away from Sussex during the second year of your PhD. Supervision continues during fieldwork, while you gather data to be written up in the final year. Students on the 1+3 course can normally go to the field by the middle of their second year.

Research training

The University’s Doctoral School runs a wide range of training courses covering the needs of students throughout all phases of their studies.

Recent thesis titles

  • Aboriginal property rights and biodiversity within the globalised political economy
  • Building capacity for community economic development: the case of Kat River Valley, South Africa
  • Community development among the Khasis in Meghalaya, India
  • Conservation, development and participation: the rhetoric of medicinal plant policy in Nepal
  • Emancipation and overcoming metaphysics in post-development thought
  • Enterprise development and informality: case studies from Mozambique
  • Environmental degradation and sustainable livelihoods following the return of Mozambican refugees from Dedza and Ntcheu Districts, Malawi
  • Legitimacy of local institutions for natural resource management in Manica, Mozambique
  • Poverty, livelihoods, social capital and migration: a case of two villages in northwest Cambodia
  • Small farmers and the political economy of pesticide use in banana production in St Lucia

PhD in Development Studies (School of IDS)

IDS runs a PhD for research in areas aligned to our research clusters and Fellows. Prospective applicants, and those applying for the MSc in Social Research Methods with a view to subsequently enrolling for a doctorate, are strongly advised to familiarise themselves with the research priorities of our research teams and Fellows, and to enter into dialogue with them, prior to application.

Information on research priorities can be obtained at Institute of Development Studies: Research. Alternatively, a current annual report can be obtained from the IDS teaching team:

T +44 (0)1273 606261
F +44 (0)1273 621202/691647

For more information, visit Institute of Development Studies


Research training needs are assessed at the time of application and admission. You may be required to undertake coursework on research skills. You are allocated two academic supervisors with whom you work for the duration of your studies.


Research degrees normally require fieldwork, usually in the second year of your programme of study.

Recent thesis titles

  • Looking at risk with both eyes: health and safety in the Cerro Rico of Potosi (Bolivia)
  • The power of perceptions: elites, opinion polling and the quality of elections in sub-Saharan Africa
  • The Party-state, business and a half kilo of milk: a study of the dynamics of regulation in China’s dairy industry
  • Negotiating an uncertain future: a multi-sited study of narratives of Kenyan agricultural climate change adaptation Community policing through local collective action in Tanzania: Sungusungu to Ulinzi Shirikishi
  • Understanding the drivers of change in sexual and reproductive health policy and legislation in Kenya
  • Citizen voice and bureaucratic responsiveness: FM radio phone-ins and the delivery of municipal and local government services in Accra, Ghana
  • Rights on the Edge: the right to water and the peri-urban drinking water committees of Cochabamba

Information for international students

For international students' entry requirements please visit:

Fees and funding

UK students
£4,195 per year
International students
£15,100 per year

The University of Sussex aims to attract the most talented students to postgraduate study and offers one of the most generous scholarship programmes of any UK university. For full details of our scholarships please visit

Qualification and course duration


full time
24-48 months
part time
36-72 months


full time
12-36 months
part time
24-48 months

Course contact details

Student Recruitment Services
+44 (0)1273 877107