Oxford University MPhil in Development Studies

Oxford University MPhil in Development Studies

October 20, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


I chose to study at Oxford because the Department
of International Development is renowned for its commitment to the field, particularly
in terms of research but also many of its staff are involved in the policy debates around
a lot of development issues. Development Studies is a relatively new discipline
where we try to understand the post-Colonial trajectories of broadly the continents of
Asia, Africa and Latin America, but unlike the more traditional disciplines we endeavour
to look at these continents and these spaces through a multi- and interdisciplinary lens. In your first year you’ll be required to do a foundation course in economics, history
and politics of developing areas and anthropology. So my colleagues are political scientists,
anthropologists, economists and all of us, what brings us together is our interest in
what is known as the developing world. So fieldwork is probably the most exciting
part of the MPhil and it is what students remember well after they leave this department. Within the course of your summer you’ll be able to dedicate as many weeks as you want
to a project that’s your own, it’s your independent thing and you’ll be able to pursue whatever
you want across the world. This is by far the single most important reason why I decided
to come here. The idea is to step back from this headline-driven
understanding of development to look at things more critically and analytically, then to apply
this sort of thinking to either the kinds of policy-oriented job or into more research-oriented
work. All of our formal assessed courses consist
of essays as well as exams. The main course that we undertake which is called the core course, it’s
graded by these two core essays and those essays are graded and weighted towards your
final mark to practise your writing and communication and development of arguments. QEH certainly has a lot of group-work based study, what we call classes or seminars, where
we tap into the fabulous collection of students that we get. So these are often people who
have not just done undergraduate degrees but have also worked in developing countries, in
NGOs, in policy roles and to me that also makes Oxford special, that it can have these
small classes of 25-30 people and sometimes much less. Every essay you write, obviously also your thesis you have supervision and you also have
a supervisor for your core course, so everything that you’re experiencing through the course, you’re
guided through it. Another important thing that perhaps not everyone
knows is the fact that every single library will have its own librarian directly linked to the department.
This is fantastic when you have issues, when you’ve got doubts, to have one person that you know will be able to help you, all throughout the year. So to see people really grow and become very different scholars and policy-makers
at the end of it, is very rewarding. I think there’s been moments in which I’ve
never felt as challenged as I have here in QEH, but I think I’ve proved capable of successfully
overcoming them and it stimulated me massively in pursuing my academic career further – I’d
like to pursue a DPhil. I think this is a great gift. I’m really grateful for it.