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Development Studies Programme

Study Development Studies in the Financial, Economic and Cultural hub of the Continent.

Development Studies (DVS) is a field of academic enquiry in which we explore debates, experiences and practical ways of achieving an improvement in the human condition. The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) is richly endowed with teaching and research resources in this field. Located in the economic heartland of a developing country with huge income disparities, it offers students and researchers a unique combination of conceptual and practical insights into the development needs of societies. On our university’s doorsteps are communities ranging from the very poorest to the relatively well-off. Our neighbouring states range from effective democracies to societies undergoing fragile transitions. Some are torn apart by instability; others are wrestling with reconstruction.

The DVS Programme is a leading inter-disciplinary post-graduate programme offering a range of specialisations in social science including health, labour, gender and rural development. The graduate coursework programme caters for the varied skills and intellectual approaches that characterize the development field. Students and researchers at the university are able to draw upon a vast range of local and international academic expertise, and on NGO, government, and business experiences to give intellectual depth and practical meaning to their work.

The DVS Programme is made up of Bachelor of Arts Honours (including Joint Honours with International Relations or Political Studies), Master of Arts by Coursework and Research Report, Master of Arts by Research Report and Doctor of Philosophy. Students draw upon local and international expertise in a range of disciplines within the School of Social Sciences, the School of Economics and Business Sciences, and School of Architecture and Planning.

The student body is cosmopolitan and admission is highly competitive. Students with practical experience in the world of development are especially welcomed. The Programme has grown steadily since its inception in 2001. On average, it is estimated that about a third of the student cohort is non-South African. Topics of student research include many focused on studies within Africa broadly.

Flexibility and Variety

The graduate coursework programme in Development Studies at Wits caters for the varied skills and intellectual approaches that characterize the development field.  The courses offered are interdisciplinary and provide multiple career possibilities. The courses are taught by a range of highly rated staff members in a range of disciplines within the School of Social Sciences and in the School of Economics and Business Sciences, with teaching and research experience in local and international development. The result is a series of unique core and complementary courses tackling Development issues. Students in our programme encounter the central theoretical issues, engage with current debates and receive training in the professional skills required by practitioners. The Honours and the MA in Development Studies are both interdisciplinary programmes. A graduate qualification in Development Studies places one in a distinct advantage for employment within the private and public sector. 

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