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Research Master
International Development Studies

The two-year Research Master's in International Development Studies focuses on development processes and transformations and shifting balances of power in the Global North and the Global South. During the programme, you will discuss societal transformation and development trajectories.

In this programme the underlying interplay between social, political, economic, environmental and cultural factors, at multiple levels of governance will be discussed, focusing on inequalities and social justice in current issues. As a theoretical and empirical science, IDS studies development as a phenomenon that results from the interaction between diverse local and international actors and processes, within context-specific institutional environments. The shifting power balances have resulted in a multi-polar, polycentric world, where emerging economies such as China and Brazil have become global players, and where governments increasingly work in partnership with other actors in shaping development processes. This has created a need for well-rounded professionals with an in-depth understanding of the complexities of local to global development processes, and with specific understanding of theories and perspectives from the Global North and the Global South.

The programme curriculum covers these subjects at different interacting levels, ranging from the micro-level of individuals and households to the macro-level of states and finally to the global level. The programme trains you in a variety of research methodologies and techniques to understand these processes from a critical comparative perspective.

The Research Master’s International Development Studies is an interdisciplinary programme, both in terms of the outlook of the programme, its staff and the students participating in it. The programme provides you with a thorough background in contemporary theories and debates in international development studies. The overarching theme of the programme is Governance and Inclusive Development, key themes covered include:

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

What is a Research Master's programme?

Research Master's programmes are two-year programmes specifically designed for excellent students wishing to pursue a career in research. These programmes include additional research methodology and skills training, as well as hands-on experience in the top research groups of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research.

The programmes prepare students for writing a PhD thesis and following an academic career, as well as for a research oriented career outside academia. 

In this video, the features of a Research Master's programme are explained by a current student, an alumna and an academic staff member: 

Student profile

The Research Master International Development Studies welcomes research-oriented Dutch and international students who are seeking to study international development issues in an interdisciplinary programme, and who would like to join an intellectual community known for its open view towards global concerns. The programme maintains a high academic standard and is also demanding. We expect you to devote your full attention to your studies for the duration of the programme.


The strong research orientation of the programme prepares you for an academic career or a career in applied research. Graduates of the Research Master’s will be well positioned to apply for PhD programmes in the Netherlands and abroad. Positions in the development sector or private sector also offer valuable options as the interdisciplinary and problem oriented training of the programme equips you with the required academic and professional skills needed for these sectors. You will be well prepared for employment in international and national organisations that work on international development issues. 

Focus on research

All lecturers in the Research Master programme in International Development Studies are prominent researchers at the  Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), in particular in the research group  Governance and Inclusive Development (GID). Within GID, there are three lines of research:

Elective courses in the Master's programme in International Development Studies are offered along the lines of these sub groups and, in principle, students will also carry out their fieldwork within these domains. Students will be actively involved in academic activities of AISSR and can attend conferences and lectures organised by  CERES (Research School for Resource Studies for Development).

Degree certificate

Upon successful completion of the Research Master's programme in International Development Studies, students receive a Master of Science (MSc) degree in International Development Studies (Research).

Key facts

International Development Studies
Diploma International Development Studies (research)
Type Regulier onderwijs
Vorm Voltijd
Studielast 120 EC, 24 maanden
Voertaal Engels
Start September
CROHO-code 60218