Marijn Faling talking about the Research Master's programme International Development Studies.
Although I was never fully convinced about my interests and my future career, I managed to choose a combination of courses and fields of study, which I evaluate as useful and sensible. My Bachelor was in Political Science: International Relations, with a minor in International Development Studies.
The reason for me to choose the IDS Research Master’s was twofold. Firstly, I was always very enthusiastic about undertaking research and the academic world, which is why I preferred the Research Master’s. Secondly, my main interest – as I know now – is in the politics of aid organisations. As such, my background in political science links perfectly with the exploration of the field of development through the Master’s programme in IDS. Although I never visited an Open Day, through the minor I nevertheless gained insight in the goings of the International Development Studies department.
What I find attractive about this Master’s programme is the scale: we started with around 8 people, which created a very interactive and intimate atmosphere in which there was ample space for personal feedback and input. The prestigious context creates an inspiring learning environment, which challenges me to fully deploy my potential.
An advantage of the two year’s programme over the one year’s Master is the time and space for reflection and cogitation of a topic for fieldwork and Master’s thesis. Also, the composition of the Research Master's programme allowed me to spend a relative long period in the field, which adds to the quality of my final thesis. After a long period of internal (thinking) and external consultation, my Master’s thesis and fieldwork focuses on dominant discourses and the shaping of humanitarian aid within the context of disaster management in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. Specifically, I look at how characteristics of organisations and individuals, and local realities on the ground co-shape aid practices. For my research I teamed up with a PhD student from Wageningen University, who also works at the Netherlands Red Cross (on the programme I am conducting research on). At the moment I am doing an internship at the international department of the Netherlands Red Cross, for which I am currently undertaking several (smaller) research activities. After my graduation at the end of this semester I would be very motivated to earn my PhD. However, this is getting more and more difficult due to financial constraints. Also, I would like to gain experience in working with NGOs, both at headquarters, as well as in the process of actual implementation. This would also be to study organisations and learn more about the complex contingencies of the delivery of (humanitarian) aid. By all means, I would like to work in an international environment, while focusing on conducting research (preferably fieldwork).
If I would give one tip or advise to prospective students, I would say that it is helpful to start thinking about the topic that excites and challenges you best, so that you can start to focus on your thesis topic as early as possible. This is beneficial for the selection of your elective courses, the preparation for your fieldwork, the contacts and networks in a certain field and your background knowledge.