International Development - MA

International development is an exciting field of study at the forefront of international affairs, exploring questions of poverty, inequality, social orders and global justice. Our unique interdisciplinary MA is taught by academics, practitioners and policymakers to enable you to understand the multifaceted political, economic and legal processes that shape development.


Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) is an attractive home for development studies, not just because of its experience and expertise in international studies, but also because of its location in Brussels, the site of various development institutions and agencies at the core of the field.

The programme improves your critical understanding of contemporary issues in development and provides practical tools for a future engagement. It considers theoretical, practical and ethical issues by interrogating development discourses, objectives and effects, and by seeking to understand forms of inclusion/exclusion and intervention in societies.

Issues covered include economic development, poverty eradication, legal empowerment, public-private partnerships, social entrepreneurship, trade and privatisation, informal economies and finance, and technological initiatives. It also provides you with an interdisciplinary approach to development and to allow you to specialise in your field of interest, such as development economics, development and migration, development and conflict, or human rights.

BSIS attracts an exceptionally diverse and active student body that shares an enthusiasm for engagement in global affairs. Our students come from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas; many have spent extended periods abroad and/or worked for development institutions. An important forum is the International Development Group, which meets regularly to discuss personal experiences, debate issues in development, invite guest speakers, attend conferences and workshops, and also organise conferences.

The programme is suitable for students seeking to understand the field of international development as well as for practitioners who have substantive experience. It provides conceptual tools and practical skills for a variety of careers in international affairs.

After their studies at BSIS, our students engage in careers in international affairs, including international organisations, NGOs, international business and research institutions across the globe.

Staff and students share their insights and experiences of the International Development Master's.

Flexible study

We are committed to offering flexible study options at BSIS and enable you to tailor your degree to meet your needs. This programme is available with start dates in September and January; full- and part-time study options; split-site options, and students can combine two fields of study leading to a degree that reflects both disciplines.

About the Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS)

The University of Kent's Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) is a specialist postgraduate centre offering advanced English language-based degrees covering the spectrum of international affairs. We host three academic schools of the University of Kent which allows students to specialise in one programme while informing their personal approach to international studies with another, via a secondary specialisation. 

The broad selection of taught and research programmes available, ranging from politics and international relations to law, migration and conflict studies, means you can choose a degree that best reflects your interests. Degrees are full degrees of the University of Kent, and the University is also recognised by the Flemish Community in Belgium (NVAO) and Flemish Government. The University of Kent is the only UK university with a campus in Brussels.

BSIS is known as a friendly, diverse, and cohesive community of approximately 250 students from about 55 different countries. Students benefit from close access to professors, a research-active environment, and exposure to practitioners from Brussels-based organisations.

Home to the main institutions of the European Union and numerous organisations, such as think tanks, lobby groups, NGOs and multinational companies, Brussels is at the heart of Europe. You can earn a degree from a top 20 British university while enjoying unparalleled opportunities for networking, academic development and professional advancement facilitated by the School's excellent location in the 'capital of Europe'.

Entry requirements

Students should hold a bachelor degree for entry to this Master's degree.

We accept a wide range of subjects for entry and you do not need to have necessarily studied Political Science or law previously. Typical first degrees of our students include Economics, History, Classics, Languages, Philosophy, Geography & Psychology (among others).

The standard of the degree will normally be at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree from countries such as the UK, Ghana, Nigeria or Kenya, or a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.0 under the American system from an accredited institution or equivalent. We do review candidates application on a case by case basis and extensive work experience may compensate for a slightly lower degree result.

We accept a wide range of qualifications and you can find the general entry requirements for some countries on the University’s main website. If your country is not listed or you need further clarification, please contact the School directly at

Students can apply before completion of the bachelor degree and if successful in obtaining a place, you would be made a conditional offer. 

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.


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Course structure

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time (standard version); 18 months full-time, 3 years part-time (extended version)

We are committed to offering flexible study options at the School and enable you to tailor your degree to meet your needs by offering start dates in September and January; full- and part-time study; split-site options, and allowing students to combine two fields of study leading to a degree that reflects both disciplines.

Standard and extended versions 

The MA is offered in both a standard version (90 ECTS credits) and an extended version (120 ECTS credits) and in each case students may take the programme with or without a secondary specialisation. Those on the extended version take more modules to gain extra credit.

To be awarded the standard MA (90 ECTS), you must take three modules from the list for International Development and a further three modules from the full list of modules offered at BSIS. For the extended MA (120 ECTS), you must take four modules from the list for International Development and a further five modules from the full list of modules offered at BSIS.


The following modules are offered to our current students on the MA International Development programme. At BSIS, you have a wide range of optional modules to choose from and this can be within your chosen degree, or as part of a secondary specialisation (for more information on specialisations, please see below.) This list of modules is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation:

POLI9040 - The Politics of International Development*

POLI9290 - Development: Theory and Practice*

ECON870 - Development Economics

POLI8460 - Global Political Economy

LAWS8851 - Law and Development

LAWS8101 - International Law and Foreign Investment

Modules marked with * are compulsory.

Students may not be registered on more than 3 modules per term (full-time) or 1 or 2 modules (part-time) and each module will run in either Autumn or Spring. 

On this programme you may not take more than three law modules (standard) or four law modules (extended).


The MA in International Development allows you to choose secondary areas of specialisation from the range of programmes offered at BSIS. This leads to the award of an MA degree in, for example, 'International Development with Human Rights Law'.

To include a secondary area of focus on the standard programme, you must choose three modules from the list for MA International Development, two modules from one of the programmes listed below (your secondary area of study) and one module from the full list of modules offered at BSIS

For the extended programme, you must choose four modules from the list for MA International Development, three modules from one of the programmes listed below (your secondary area of study) and two modules from the full list of modules offered at BSIS.

On both the standard and extended programme, you must also submit a dissertation on a topic in International Development and complete the methodology module Fundamentals, Dissertation and Research.


Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • provide a postgraduate qualification of value to those intending to pursue a career in the field of international development
  • provide a detailed knowledge and a high level of understanding of a range of specialised subject areas
  • provide access to a range of disciplinary perspectives on international development, in the framework of an interdisciplinary graduate school with cognate programmes in international relations, conflict analysis, international law, and migration studies
  • provide a sound knowledge and systematic understanding of the institutional structures and policy fields of international development
  • provide a degree of specialisation in areas of international development of individual interest from among the range of options that are available and which require you to engage with academic work that is at the frontiers of scholarship
  • encourage you to develop a critical awareness of the discourses and practices associated with the field of international development, particularly in contexts which are perceived to be controversial or in a state of evolution
  • provide you with a research-active learning environment which gives you a good grounding in the study of the contending approaches and issues in international development, and allows you to place the subject in its proper context within the broader field of international studies
  • encourage you to develop critical, analytical, communicative and problem-solving skills which can be applied to a wide range of contexts (transferable skills).
  • develop skills in the written presentation of arguments in a manner which meets relevant academic conventions
  • contribute to widening participation in higher education by taking account of past experience of applicants in determining admissions whilst ensuring that all students that are admitted possess the potential to complete the programme successfully
  • develop your general research skills and personal skills (transferable skills), in particular through a substantial dissertation.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • key empirical and theoretical issues in different approaches to international development
  • the various actors and institutions involved in the formation and implementation of development policy, including an appreciation of how they operate and interact both internationally and on the ground
  • the various theoretical, historical and ideological perspectives that underlie academic debates in the field of development
  • the interplay of economic, political and legal institutions, structures, and policies in development policy
  • the changing role of development issues in the context of the wider study and practice of international affairs, with reference, for example, to trade, energy policy, capital market regulation, migration, security, conflict, human rights, and environmental concerns
  • how to apply general theoretical and conceptual frameworks to the analysis of specific issues in international development.
  • how to design and write a substantial scholarly paper, demonstrating familiarity with academic and professional conventions.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • gathering relevant information and accessing key sources by electronic or other means
  • evaluating issues according to their context, relevance and importance
  • formulating arguments on central issues and areas of controversy, and the ability to present a reasoned opinion based upon relevant materials
  • recognising potential alternative arguments, and contrary evidence, to your own opinion and presenting a reasoned justification for preference
  • demonstrating an independence of mind and the ability to offer critical challenge to received understanding on particular issues
  • reflecting constructively on your learning progression
  • designing and writing a substantial scholarly paper demonstrating familiarity with academic and professional conventions.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • a systematic understanding and critical awareness of the nature and significance of international development
  • the ability to appreciate and evaluate the main theoretical perspectives that underlie international development policy and the controversies surrounding it.
  • a critical understanding of the tools and techniques used to frame and measure the effectiveness and success of development projects
  • the ability to reflect critically on your own aspirations and ambitions in the intellectual and cultural context of development policy
  • the ability to critically understand the place and role of international development in the context of wider international politics, including issues of international political economy, security, migration, human rights, and the environment
  • an awareness of the limitations of present knowledge in the field and of the matters needing to be resolved by further research.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • communication: the ability to communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing (including, where appropriate, the use of IT), organise information clearly and coherently, use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information, including, where appropriate, statistical or numerical information
  • information technology: produce written documents, undertake online research, communicate using email
  • working with others: work co-operatively on group tasks, collaborate with others and contribute effectively to the achievement of common goals
  • improving your own learning: explore your strengths and weaknesses, time-management skills, review your working environment (especially the student-staff relationship), develop autonomy in learning, work independently, demonstrate initiative and self-organisation
  • important research management skills include the setting of appropriate timescales for different stages of the research, with clear starting and finishing dates (through a dissertation), presentation of a clear statement of the purposes and expected results of the research, and developing appropriate means of estimating and monitoring resources and use of time
  • problem-solving: identify and define problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them.


January entry

The annual tuition fees for students starting this course in January 2023 can be found on the Student Finance page.

The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:

International Development 90 ECTS - MA at Brussels

  • Home full-time €20200
  • EU full-time TBC
  • International full-time €20200
  • Home part-time €10100
  • EU part-time TBC
  • International part-time €10100

International Development 120 ECTS - MA at Brussels

  • Home full-time €28400
  • EU full-time TBC
  • International full-time €28400
  • Home part-time €14200
  • EU part-time TBC
  • International part-time €14200

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


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Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our Politics and International Studies research was classified as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ for environment and publications.


Research areas

Our research interests span a broad spectrum of the discipline, with particular strengths in the fields of conflict analysis and resolution, political theory and European politics. The strength of the School’s research culture is reflected in the numerous books and articles published and in the existence of its three core research groups: Conflict, Security and Human Rights; Comparative Politics; and Political and Social Thought.

Critical Social Theory 

Political action spans from fixing glitches in the smooth functioning of the system to rendering the unthinkable thinkable. Our job is strictly the latter - to discern available opportunities for a less unjust world, and fashion arguments to make these changes politically thinkable and socially feasible. Drawing on various trajectories of critical theory (i.e. as originated by the Frankfurt School, Michel Foucault, the Critical Legal Studies movement, and the British School of IPE), our cluster of scholars works on contemporary social phenomena while seeking to discern emancipatory perspectives of social criticism, citizen mobilisation and political reform. The thematic scope of our research extends from religion to capitalism, security and development policies. 

Fragmentation and Contestation in the International Law of Armed Conflict 

Research in International Law at the BSIS is clustered around questions that engage the performative significance of the International Law of Armed Conflict within a context of institutional and interpretative fragmentation. The focus of this research theme is accordingly on the overlap and contestation between various international law regimes – international humanitarian law, international criminal law, international human rights law – and how they come to interact with, influence and potentially govern situations of actual or emerging global conflict. Special attention is directed at the role of practice and how regimes of international law become used not only by states but also by non-state actors and international lawyers. In this way, the International Law of Armed Conflict is understood as a historic but no less dynamic project situated at the intersection of normative ideals and an evolving professional practice. 

Migration in Global Politics 

Migration is one of the most politicised topics in the world, but the study of migration is a multi-faceted, dynamic and interdisciplinary field engaging with a range of topics. How and why do diaspora members engage politically in their countries of origin? What integration strategies do stigmatised and vulnerable migrant groups develop? What is, for instance, the impact of Islamophobia on Muslim migrants? How do states react to, and shape, migrant integration? What patterns of citizenship acquisition and renunciation can we identify? Researchers in this cluster study not only movement – migration – but also integration and, closely linked to integration, citizenship. The research in this cluster focuses on: 

Political engagement of diasporas in their countries of origin; Identity formation of migrants and diasporas, both with respect to countries of origin and destination; Migrant integration in countries of destination; Migration as a survival strategy. 

Political Violence, Security Governance and Development 

This cluster focuses on social and political dynamics leading to war and peace, and, crucially, what is in between. It studies insurgency formation, states’ security governance policies, temporary rebel orders, peace processes as well as foreign intervention in its many guises, violent and non-violent. We also pay close attention to how securitisation agendas are articulated for more classic development interventions in the Global South. Our research covers various geographical areas such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Sahel region and Madagascar. 

Russia, the EU and the neighbourhood 

The end of the Cold War has resulted in the eastward extension of Euro-Atlantic structures, mainly the European Union and NATO. Yet, it has left fundamental questions unresolved, in particular the position of Russia in Europe and the position of former Soviet states in between. Despite attempts to establish a Strategic Partnership, relations between the EU and Russia got entangled in a logic of competition and mistrust. With the crisis over Ukraine they derailed into confrontation and deep crisis.  This research theme seeks to understand the dynamics of this process by taking a critical look at the foreign policies of the EU and Russia, their interaction and the role of the neighbouring states themselves. It explores the nature of different integration initiatives and the role of perceptions. More specifically the research focus is on these aspects: EU-Russia relations Russian foreign policy EU foreign policy European Neighbourhood Policy / Eastern Partnership EU enlargement Eurasian Economic Union Energy relations Power and identity Democracy promotion and normative hegemony. 

Security, Identity, Memory 

What is the relationship between security and identity? How can historical grievances become the subject of contemporary foreign and security policies? Why do states and nations seek to defend their historical memory by means of law at times? How might the legal framing of public remembrance infringe upon freedom of speech and freedom of association? What are the ethical pitfalls of countering contemporary hybrid threats? This research cluster is situated at the intersection of various distinct research fields: International (and Global) Security, International Relations Theory, Critical Social Theory, Transitional Justice and Memory Studies. More specifically, the research focus is on these aspects: Ontological security (security of being) Memory wars and memory laws in Europe     Legitimacy and radical critique of contemporary security policies Critical geopolitics EU and NATO security governance 

Social Justice and the Reconfiguration of Capitalism in the European Union 

As societies are becoming ever more tightly entangled in the network of globally integrated markets, issues of justice not only emerge with renewed urgency: they change, reflecting the changing nature of capitalism. Our research charts the dynamics of this change by relating narratives of European integration to new modalities of post-neoliberal capitalism, and the plethora of social afflictions and policy paradoxes these have engendered. We also chart the matrix of effective governance in this context by articulating a ‘political economy of trust’ aiming to reconfigure state-economy relations so as to attenuate the increasing social uncertainty we hold to be at the root of social pathologies (such as growing inequalities and the rise of xenophobia).


For many students, coming to Brussels is a great opportunity to seek out internship and job opportunities. There is a wealth of opportunities in the city to gain valuable work experience in the institutions, organisations and companies in Brussels which could potentially lead to a career post graduation. 

At the Brussels School of International Studies, students have access to the services of Key2advance, a dedicated careers service that provides students with assistance in developing skills and accessing the international job market. The weekly career workshops cover all aspects of the job market starting with rewriting your CV and cover letters to learning networking skills. This leads to a networking event during the Autumn Term that allows students to meet and network with employers and alumni.

The University of Kent has its own excellent network in the city which has developed over the last 20 years. These networks enable students to take up internships with some key players in the Brussels job market such as NGOs, charities, public relation firms, think tanks, lobbying companies and the international institutions.  Students will find there are many opportunities for an internship during their time at BSIS and In addition, our students and alumni comprise a tightly-knit network through which internship opportunities pass frequently.

Recent examples of internships are with the Red Cross, Norwegian Refugee Council, Weber Shandwick, Coca cola, International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, Transatlantic Business Council (among many others). 

Kent has an excellent record for postgraduate employment: of Kent graduate students who graduated in 2016, 98% of those who responded to a national survey were in work or further study within six months (DLHE).

Study support

Postgraduate resources

Students have access to excellent e-library facilities online via the Templeman library in Canterbury; inter-library loans within Belgium; 50,000 online journals are also available off-campus. Students also have outstanding access to libraries in Brussels, such as at our partner universities Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Université Libre de Bruxelles, the Royal Library of Belgium, among others. The School’s resources include a dedicated selection of more than 1,000 key texbooks on the subject of international affairs and law. In addition, postgraduate research students have their own designated room with computer terminals and access to wi-fi in all areas at the Brussels centre.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. The Brussels School produces its own journal, The Brussels Journal of International Studies, which was founded in 2003.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Apply now

Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

MA at Brussels

MA at Brussels

Admissions enquiries

Agata Archetti Maestri

Admissions and Recruitment, Brussels

T (Belgium):+32 (0) 2641 1723

T (UK): +44 (0) 0112 816298



International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254