The role of the International Development graduate in global progression

“No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.” – Nelson Mandela

It’s crazy to think that the headlines we’re reading today could find their place in the history books of tomorrow. From the controversial movements of Trump’s volatile cabinet, to the strained international relations between a diverse range of cultures and religions, to the growing devastation caused by rapid climate change effects; we undoubtedly live in an era of uncertainty and political change.

Though it sometimes feels like we’re in the midst of a chaotic civilisation clash, you can rest assured that we aren’t the first generation to face up to issues like extreme terrorism, racism, poverty and world hunger. The old saying may well claim that history has a habit of repeating itself, but as U2 frontman turned global activist, Bono, notes in his powerful TED Talk, Three Actions for Africa, “The fact is that ours is the first generation that can look disease and extreme poverty in the eye, look across the ocean to Africa, and say this, and mean it: we do not have to stand for this.”

So, who takes charge of combatting the pervasive problems that affect, not just Africa, but all four corners of the globe?

Striving to make significant contributions towards positive social change, the International Development graduate plays a major part in the recovery and progression of an unsettled and unpredictable world.

To triumph over these complex, often catastrophic issues, it’s crucial that we understand the way global systems operate. It’s simply not enough to wade in with a financial contribution and hope for long-term change – the problem of poverty, for example, is much more convoluted than simply being the result of widespread low income; it’s an issue that involves an amalgamation of factors like overpopulation, lack of rainfall, and the inability to access basic human services like healthcare and education. While there’s no quick fix to these challenges, a degree in International Development will instil you with the skills and aptitude you need to fight for positive change.

But with so many hopeful ambitions making their way to the field, how do you ensure your application remains that critical cut above the rest?

“Having a master’s degree is crucial to advancing a career in international development,” says Dr Oliver Walton, Lecturer in International Development at the University of Bath.

“Employers in this field also value experience, so if you are coming straight from an undergraduate degree, working first before doing a master’s may be a good move,” he adds. “There are a wide variety of master’s courses available in this field, so it is worth thinking carefully about which aspects of development you want to focus on, and whether you want to specialise.”

Each student approaches a master’s in International Development for different reasons, making the student body highly diverse. Some use it to reflect more critically on their work, while others use it for career progression and to develop their skills to fit the next opportunity on the horizon, of which there are many, as Walton explains.

“It is very common for people working in this field to change roles quite a lot over the course of their career – don’t expect to be in the same job for the rest of your life.”

The formerly mentioned University of Bath – a Top 5 UK higher education provider – serves as the ideal platform for your postgraduate pursuit into the International Development realm. Here, the innovative Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences offers courses in Economics, Education, Health, Politics, Languages & International Studies, Psychology, and Social & Policy Science – all of which are inherently interconnected. International Development hopefuls also relish in the chance to work alongside the Centre for Development Studies (CDS); an interdisciplinary, collaborative research centre that critically engages with international development policy and practice.

Bath’s full-time MSc in International Development presents a multidisciplinary approach to this globally-relevant subject. Through an in depth look at the current issues at play in the world’s poorest countries or marginalised countries and communities, you’ll learn how the social sciences can play a part in addressing major world issues, such as gender inequality, corruption, migration and conflict.

Acknowledging that the subject is both intricate and diverse, the Faculty is now offering a number of new specialist study routes, including the MSc in International Development with Economics; MSc in International Development with Social Justice and Sustainability; and the MSc in International Development with Conflict and Humanitarian Action, empowering you to work and of course, succeed, in your professional role of choice.

The majority of graduates will begin their career in a grass-roots voluntary role or professional training service with a private consulting firm. But as a pertinent degree that breaks through countless subject boundaries, graduates also find themselves forging long and rewarding careers within global business, finance, media, public sector management and teaching, just to name a few.

The broad understanding of current development issues and possible solutions you acquire on the course gives you the knowledge to develop a better and fairer world. By appreciating the complexities and intricacies that play a part in the development of a nation and its people, your sphere of influence and reach of power extend far beyond the classroom. Instead they contribute towards positive social change that has the capacity to impact the daily lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

With a master’s in International Development behind you, you could be the well-informed driving force improving human wellbeing.

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