For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!

International Development Studies

In this Master’s programme you will examine global inequalities, ranging from their causes, characteristics and possible solutions. International Development Studies is concerned with a broad range of topics like poverty, conflict, security, social and gender inequality, sustainability, education, the environment and the relationship between local, national and global processes.

Why is a Master International Development Studies needed?

In the contemporary global setting, the Global North and the Global South are interwoven through ideas, economics, institutions, value chains, and more. At the same time, the world is collectively facing growing uncertainty due to climate change, financial volatility, growing inequality, migration movements, changing political landscapes and conflict. Increasing global integration due to intensified forms of communication, shared interests, and shared challenges, along with expanding economies and ICT developments creates new realities for social life, in which the development issues of the global South – traditionally considered the proper domain for development studies – come closer to and intertwine with social, economic and political challenges in the global North. Contextualized by on-going tendencies to protect vested economic and political interests, resulting in increasing exclusion and inequality within and across populations in the South and the North, the demands for understanding what development means and whom it impacts are changing. Within this context, up-to-date expertise is needed in the broad arena of international development capable of challenging existing knowledge claims, discovering new ideas and knowledge; and contributing to new forms of pro-active governance that protects the interests of those who are excluded and/or adversely included in current development processes in different parts of the globe. In this way, development studies also needs to have a normative commitment to addressing inequalities and to promoting ecological and social justice in order to delivering graduates who are cognizant of today’s challenges.

What is the MIDS Programme?

The Master Programme in International Development Studies (MIDS) at the University of Amsterdam is a one-year, 60-credit, English-language programme which welcomes approximately 60 students per year, both Dutch and international students, and leads to an NVAO and EADI accredited MSc degree. It engages with development through a multi-disciplinary lens, meaning that development is not taught from a particular discipline, but is seen as being best understood through different disciplinary approaches. As such it offers a multi-disciplinary programme in terms of content, staff and the range of backgrounds of our participating students. The programme provides students with an understanding of the history and theories of development; the multi-scalar context of development processes and issues which recognizes the links between the global, national, urban and local levels; innovative and research-based teaching to familiarize students with the changing research context and emerging issues of development; academic and professional skills; and exposure to professionals working in the diverse and changing field of international development. Drawing on the multi-disciplinary features of the programme, development is presented and explored as a phenomenon that results from the interaction and unequal power relations between diverse rural and urban, local, national and international actors and processes, within context-specific institutional environments. Moreover, shifting power balances have resulted in a more multi-polar, polycentric world where governments increasingly work in partnership with other actors in shaping development processes and achieving development goals.

What can our students expect?

The MIDS programme produces graduates who can profile themselves as academic professionals. While the foundation of the MIDS programme is academic in nature, we recognize the need to prepare our graduates for post-graduate life and ensure that they will have the necessary range of qualifications for obtaining employment on an academic level, both within and outside of academia. Thus, the teaching programme equips the students with the knowledge, critical analytical skills, qualitative and quantitative research techniques, and professional skills to be competitive in the professional field of IDS, and to remain aware of the changing dynamics and demands in a constantly changing global society long after they graduate.


Fieldwork is a required and enriching part of our programme. The fieldwork experience gives our students first-hand knowledge of and experience in the development contexts in which they are interested. Nearly all students carry out their fieldwork in the Global South, though a few students choose to do research in development contexts in the Global North, such as in refugee camps in Europe. In leaving the programme, students indicate the fieldwork as being among their most valuable experiences and most important contribution to their learning and professional preparation.

 (Please note: it is very important for applicants to know right away that aside from a small fieldwork subsidy, students must be prepared to pay for their travel and fieldwork expenses in addition to the normal tuition fees.)

Student profile

The Master’s programme in International Development Studies welcomes both Dutch and international students who seek to study global development issues in a multidisciplinary programme, and who enjoy and can contribute to an intellectually and culturally diverse community. The programme is demanding and full time. Thus, students must be prepared to devote all their attention their studies during the entire academic year. 


The programme provides students with both academic and professional skills. Academically, students will be equipped with knowledge about key development theories, issues and approaches. They will learn  to discuss and debate them, to think critically about them, to place them in multi-scalar contexts and to seek ways of moving them beyond them to make new contributions to the field. Students will gain invaluable first-hand experience in carrying out an independent research project. Such research will help them be more competitive in the professional world. Students will also obtain writing skills, cultural communication skills, presentation skills, and can build their contacts and networks in the professional world through extra-curricular workshops and seminars offered throughout the year. 

Focus on research

The Masters Programme in International Development Studies builds upon a long tradition of research through its extensive global network of both Southern and Northern partners in development. Most staff members carry out their research within the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research   (AISSR), and are part of the research group of called Governance and Inclusive Development (GID).

Within the GID, there are three main lines of research. These are:

  • Governance of natural resources and well-being
  • Urban governance and resilient development
  • Governance of education, development and social justice

Elective courses in the Masters Programme in International Development Studies are offered along the lines of these subgroups. In general, students will also carry out their fieldwork within the broad scope of these fields. Please click on “Study Programme” to the left to learn more about this.

Ambition in research?

For students interested in this field of study, we also offer a two-year Research Master’s programme in International Development Studies.

Degree certificate 

Upon successful completion of International Development Studies, students receive a Master of Science (MSc) degree in International Development Studies.

Key facts

International Development Studies
Degree programme MSc International Development Studies
Type Regular study programme
Mode Full-time
Credits 60 ECTS, 12 months
Language of instruction English
Starts in September
CROHO code 60329