Dissertation in Research Methods for International Development

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Development Studies

Module overview

The students enrolled in this module will have completed core and option modules within the MSc Research for International Development by the time they complete their dissertation. By conducting a project on a topic of their choice (approved by the convener and supervisor) and writing a dissertation on it, the students will demonstrate their knowledge and intellectual capacity that they have acquired in the programme.

The dissertation will provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of topics and themes in international development; critically appraise theoretical and empirical literature in this area; and to apply a variety of research methods appropriate for use in the analysis of international development issues.

The 10,000 word dissertation must be submitted by September in the final year of study. Examples of dissertation topics include:

    • Realist randomised controlled trials of development interventions in practice – concrete design suggestions to address the problem of external validity.

    • How have global processes of labour informalisation impacted so-called ‘formal’ employment conditions in Vietnam, and how is this related to labour militancy? A literature review and proposed conceptual framework.

    • M&E (&L?): The incorporation of organisational learning in humanitarian monitoring and evaluation

    • A political economy of the use of statistics in West African labour market policy: What do we really know about the potential of the informal economy to deliver ‘decent work’ for young people?

    • The socio-economic impact of rural electrification programmes - a case study of Peru.

    • Tracing evidence and claims from the ‘Land Grab’ literature: the case of Mozambique.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module



  • Interdisciplinary understanding of the international development issue or theme chosen for dissertation research.
  • Understanding of the appropriate research methods for the issue or theme chosen for dissertation research.

Intellectual (thinking) skills

  • The ability to critically appraise development paradigms and development policy regarding the issue or theme chosen for dissertation research
  • The ability to approach the international development issue or theme chosen for dissertation research from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Subject-based practical skills

  • Ability to apply one or more research methods systematically to a chosen research issue or theme.
    Transferable skills
  • Specialised knowledge of issue/theme specific research methods
  • Ability to appraise and implement these issue/theme specific research methods
  • Ability to evaluate and synthesise different theoretical and conceptual arguments
  • Critical appraisal and critical thinking and writing skills




Learning will be largely autonomous and independent.


Method of assessment


100% coursework. Each student will be expected to submit one essay of no more than 10,000 words. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.



Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules