Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

BA International Development

Top 50 in the world for Development Studies, QS World University Rankings 2018

This information is for 2019 entry - to see the information for 2018 entry please go to the 2018 programme page

This degree gives you an insight into the challenges of global development. It explores how the competing challenges of inequality, poverty reduction, economic growth and social development are negotiated and contested, alongside ways in which people and institutions respond to these challenges.

Core modules in the programme introduce you to key issues such as the impact of colonialism, how different agencies contribute to development and how development operates in practice. You’ll also be able to choose from optional modules in your final year, allowing you to specialise in the regions, countries and themes that excite you most – and even spend a semester studying at one of our chosen partner universities to gain a new insight into development.

Research and practice

Our International Development teaching team is comprised of academics who are leaders in their fields. Many have advised national governments, NGOs and transnational organisations in their specialist areas, and all have experience of living, researching and conducting fieldwork in the Global South. Our real-world academic, practitioner and policy-making perspectives will provide you with insights into the major political, economic, social and cultural issues affecting people in the Global South and how these experiences link with political, economic and social change in the Global North.

This course also has strong connections to active research centres across the University that are involved in teaching, researching and debating international development topics. You’ll have the chance to get engaged with units such as the Centre for Global Development (CGD) and the Leeds University Centre for African Studies (LUCAS).


David Johnson
Studying in Ghana for a semester - one of the options for the course - was an incredible experience. I would say it’s essential for anyone who is interested in ‘developing countries’.

David Johnson

International Development BA

Each stage of the degree involves core modules that enhance your knowledge of development challenges and their perceived causes; enrich your understanding of theories of development and Southern responses to underdevelopment; and build the hands-on skills you'll need in the professional workplace. You’ll also be able to choose discovery modules from complementary subject areas.

Year 1 equips you with the skills you’ll need to study and research international development. You’ll begin to consider the causes and factors that have influenced modern development challenges, examining the effects of colonialism and the legacy of colonial rule across the Americas, Africa and Asia. You’ll also put your development knowledge into the context of political theory and international politics.

A further core module provides key insights into global development challenges and how these might be tackled. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between economic, social and political factors that shape development processes. This includes exploring, for instance, how global-level commitments to promote socially just development, such as ‘Education for All’ (EFA) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), align with dominant economic development priorities, and the ways in which these different ideas are taken up in a diversity of regions and countries.

Building on this foundation, core modules in Year 2 will allow you to explore the theoretical debates that underpin international development. You’ll also see how theory translates to real-world situations, as you examine aspects of development practice and a wide range of development agencies. You’ll also improve your research skills and gain an understanding of the methods and techniques used to create new insights into the subject. Diverse optional modules will allow you to focus on related topics such as public policy, security studies and international relations.

If you choose to spend a semester abroad during this year, you’ll study modules at your host institution that replace some of those you would be expected to take in Leeds.

Much of your final year will be dedicated to your dissertation – an independently researched project on a topic of your choice, which allows you to demonstrate the interdisciplinary, critical and research skills you have gained. To complete your studies, you’ll choose up to three optional modules from a set related to international development, and you could choose up to two modules from across the School of Politics and International Studies, including topics such as US foreign policy and political psychology.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Studying and Researching in POLIS 5 credits
  • Comparative Politics 20 credits
  • Global Development Challenges 20 credits
  • Making of the Modern World 20 credits
  • International Politics 20 credits
  • Freedom, Power and Resistance: An Introduction to Political Ideas 20 credits

Optional modules

  • British Politics 20 credits
  • Contemporary Africas: Politics, Society and the Environment 20 credits

Discovery modules

  • You may choose up to 20 credits of discovery modules credits

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Development Theory and Practice 20 credits
  • Approaches to Analysis 20 credits

Optional modules

  • North-South Linkages 20 credits
  • Politics and Policy in the EU 20 credits
  • Comparative Politics of Pacific Asia 20 credits
  • Politics of Contemporary China 20 credits
  • State and Politics in Africa 20 credits
  • United States Politics 20 credits
  • Security Studies 20 credits
  • Revolution and Reaction: Political Problems in the 20th Century 20 credits
  • Justice, Community and Conflict 20 credits
  • Career Planning for POLIS Students 20 credits

Discovery modules

  • You may choose up to 40 credits of discovery modules credits

Year 3

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation 40 credits

Optional modules

  • Land, Fuel and Agriculture 20 credits
  • The Politics of Aid 20 credits
  • International Development and Social Policy 20 credits
  • Violence and Reconciliation in Africa 20 credits
  • Politics of Islamism 20 credits
  • Crisis Diplomacy: Coercion, Sanctions and the Use of Force in International Relations 20 credits
  • Dirty War: Insurgency, the State and Cities 20 credits
  • Philosophy of Human Rights 20 credits
  • Reimagining Politics: Gender, Race, and Popular Culture 20 credits

Discovery modules

  • You may choose up to 20 credits of discovery modules credits

For more information on typical modules, read International Development BA in the course catalogue

Broadening your academic horizons

At Leeds we want you to benefit from the depth and breadth of the University's expertise, to prepare you for success in an ever-changing and challenging world. This course gives you the opportunity to broaden your learning by studying discovery modules. Find out more on the Broadening webpages.

Learning and teaching

We use a range of teaching and learning methods to help you gain diverse skills. These will include seminars and workshops where you can discuss in more depth the topics set out in traditional lectures. We emphasize the importance of participation, presentation skills and group work.

The teaching structure varies depending on your level of study – for example, in Year 1 you might expect to have six or seven lectures and three or four seminars per week. However, independent study is also a vital element of the course, as it allows you to develop your research and critical skills while preparing for taught sessions.

You’ll also have a personal tutor – one of our academics – who will be on hand to offer you guidance and support on academic issues, such as module choices, as well as career and personal matters.


Modules will use a variety of assessment methods. As well as traditional exams, you could also be asked to complete projects based on essays and case studies, policy briefs, group presentations, work logs, research briefs, project proposals or development agency reviews. In your final year you’ll also submit a 10,000 word dissertation.

Entry requirements

A-level: ABB

We don’t require A-level Politics for any of our degrees and we welcome applications that include vocational A-level subjects such as AVCE (single or double awards). Any combination of these with A-levels is acceptable.

In general we expect applicants to have two ‘traditional’ academic subjects at A-level. See our Accepted A-level subjects document to see which subjects we accept.

When an applicant is taking the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) this can be considered alongside A-levels and may attact an alternative offer in addition to the standard offer. If you are taking A Levels, this would be BBB at A-level including grade A in the EPQ.

Alternate Qualifications

Access to HE Diploma

Complete 60 credits with 45 credits at Level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 at Merit or higher.



Cambridge Pre-U

D3, M1, M1.

International Baccalaureate

34 overall (6,5,5 higher).

Irish Highers (Leaving Certificate)


Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

AAABB overall (BB at advanced level).

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the Schools Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

Were committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is an alternative admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and alternative admissions.


We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information contact the School of Politics and International Studies admissions team.

International foundation year

If you have the ability to study for a degree but don’t have the qualifications to enter directly to level one, you might consider studying a foundation year. We have formal links with the following foundation year programmes:

If you are applying from an alternative foundation year provider, please contact our admissions team to find out if your qualification is suitable for entry to our courses.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

How to apply

Apply to this course through UCAS. The institution code for the University of Leeds is L23. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

It is also possible to study this programme part time. The programme content is the same but you will study at a lesser intensity. Find out more about how to apply, support available and the part-time student experience at the Lifelong Learning Centre.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK/EU students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If youre unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

School of Politics and International Studies Undergraduate Admissions Policy 2019


UK/EU: To be confirmed

International: To be confirmed

For UK and non-UK EU full-time students starting in 2018, the fee for 2018/19 will be £9,250. 

The fee for undergraduate students starting in 2019 will be confirmed in September 2018.

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation, and as permitted by law. For example, the increase of 2.8% in 2017/18 was based on the government’s forecast for the RPI-X measure of inflation.

The UK government has confirmed that non-UK EU students in 2018-19 will have home fee status and be eligible for UK government student loans. The UK government has not confirmed the situation for future years, so keep checking our website for updates.

If you take a study abroad or work placement year, youll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Part-time fees are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.

Career opportunities

This course will give you in-depth knowledge of debates, approaches, strategies, politics and programmes in the field of international development. It will also equip you with an understanding of project design and management in the international development context, as well as skills in research, analysis, using qualitative and quantitative data, communication and decision-making in complex situations.

Our course equips you for various career paths. Compatible careers include working in international development agencies, international organisations, governments, politics, NGOs, research organisations, policy making, companies, media, and academia.

Our graduates have gone on to work in, for instance, non-governmental organisations in the UK or overseas, research and consultancy firms, international organisations (such as the UN), the Civil Service, the media, or have continued with further study.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. Thats one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Placement opportunities

Study abroad

On this course you have the opportunity to apply to spend time abroad, usually as an extra academic year. The University has partnerships with more than 400 universities worldwide and popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and Latin America. 

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

Semester abroad

This course also offers you the opportunity to spend a semester studying at one of our chosen partner universities (as long as you achieve a minimum grade in Year 1). The modules you enrol on there count towards your degree, meaning you don’t have to catch up on the modules you would have otherwise taken in Leeds.

While on the semester abroad you could also get involved with volunteering and learn from local charitable organisations and NGOs to see first-hand the daily work and challenges that are part of running such organisations. It’s a fantastic opportunity to gain experience of another culture and gain a new perspective to inform the rest of your studies.

Work placements

Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.

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