Master's degree (2 years)
Full time
Global Development Studies

The Master in Global Development Studies (M-GDS) offers critical knowledge and understanding of contemporary global challenges with the aim of supporting just and sustainable development.

Application deadline:

Applicants outside EU/EEA: 1 December

Norwegian, Nordic, EU/EEA and Swiss citizens: 15 April 


Start of Studies:

Autumn 2024

Number of students:



Bachelor degree or equivalent in the social, political, environmental, management or agricultural sciences or humanities.

  • Applicants must hold a Bachelor degree or equivalent in the social, political, environmental, management or agricultural sciences or humanities.

    A minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of C or the equivalent is required.

    A one-page (A4) motivation letter outlining their background (personal, professional, academic), their motivation to study the M-IES programme and their contribution to the learning environment is recommended. In the international admission round, applicants with a strong motivation letter will be prioritized above similarly qualified applications without a motivation letter if all other admission criteria are met. In the local admission round, applicants with a strong motivation letter will receive a 0.5 increase in the grade point average if all other admission criteria are met. 

    Admission will be based on academic transcripts and the motivation letter.

    Applicants must meet NMBU’s requirements for English language proficiency

    General information on Admission requirements | NMBU.

Master student conducting field research in Nepal (Masters in International Development Studies)

Master of Science, two-year, full-time, 120 ECTS 
Language of instruction: English

The Master in Global Development Studies engages with contemporary discourses on global development and explores the interplay between social, economic, political, environmental and gendered aspects of societal change across scales from local to global.  Central themes addressed are inequality and poverty, the environment, climate change, global governance, armed conflict and violence, gender, food systems, rural development, decolonization and other struggles for justice. The programme builds on research-based knowledge from a wide variety of geographical contexts and emphasizes the complex interlinkages across levels and between countries and localities in a multipolar world. 

Student-active learning strategies are emphasised, including field courses, internships, and dynamic student collaboration. The emphasis on interdisciplinary education and research methods provides empirical insights, analytic tools and practical skills in evaluating and formulating policies and strategies within the field of global development. The learning approach is sensitive to diverse cultures, ecologies, institutions, economies and knowledges of different societies and groups. Electives include field courses and internships that provide valuable practical experience. Exchanges with other universities (global or domestic) may be included in the degree. The M-GDS programme attracts students from all over the world and provides the opportunity to study in a unique learning environment with an interdisciplinary and international composition of students at a green and beautiful campus.  

The M-GDS degree is a two-year, full-time English language programme accredited by the European Association of Development Research and Training (EADI).

Career opportunities

M-GDS graduates find employment in a wide range of national and international organizations including government agencies, research and education, civil society, multilateral and bilateral aid, media and business.

  • The M-GDS programme is grounded in the social sciences and distinguished by its interdisciplinarity and combined use of research-based pedagogy and real-world study and practical experience as the foundation for understanding global development as manifested and practiced in diverse, complex and rapidly changing contexts.

    Students will gain a solid grounding in the concepts, history, theories, methodologies and practices of global development and learn about the conditions for development and the interaction between social, political and environmental processes at local, regional and global levels.


    • Knowledge and understanding of the meanings of globalisation and development, and the various approaches and theories used in global development studies and the critique of these. 
    • Specialized insight into a particular theme in global development, for example inequality and poverty, rights and power, gender, environmental change, food systems, and the politics and of global governance and change.


    • Capacity to analyse complex global development challenges through applying interdisciplinary theories and methods
    • The ability to critically assess established and new academic perspectives and policy developments within the field of global development 
    • Capacity to create and evaluate solutions to global development issues, acknowledging the dynamics between ecological and social, political and economic processes
    • Competence in planning and conducting field research, project management and development work
    • Ability to use a diversity of approaches and methods in the study of development issues in the field
    • Awareness of critical perspectives on power relations, normative perspectives and values related to global change
    • Ability to critique, engage in and promote academic and public debate on global development
    • Academic writing skills based on experience with different genres in academic and policy-oriented writing

    General competence:

    • Plan and carry out independent and innovative research in Global Development Studies
    • Contribute to solving theoretical, methodological and practical challenges and problems in global development 
    • Apply Global Development Studies knowledge in new settings such as in research and education, development processes, civil society action, government programmes or the private sector
    • Participate and engage in networks, negotiations, public debates, and be able to collaborate with people from diverse cultural backgrounds and academic fields
  • NMBU has exchange agreements within many disciplines and with many universities across the world. There are ample opportunities to do parts of the studies abroad, both at universities with which NMBU has agreements and other universities/institutions. Refer to the following list:
  • The Master Programme in Global Development Studies requires a total of 120 ECTS over two years.  

    The first year consists of course work covering global development theory and politics, research methodology, poverty and inequality, plus elective courses. Students can choose from a wide range of elective courses offered by the Department or by other Faculties of the University. During their first semester, students design an individual study plan for their degree.

    The second year comprises an individually designed combination of electives, field course and internship. Students are encouraged to spend a semester on exchange at a university abroad or to do an internship with a Norwegian organization. Students are encouraged to write their Master Thesis on the basis of field research and may locate their study in a variety of geographical contexts. The Master Thesis is normally written in the final semester.

    Year 1:

    Semester: Autumn

    Compulsory Courses:*

    Semester: Spring

    Compulsory Courses

    Elective courses include: **

    *) Compulsory courses can be waived for students with a strong background in the subject.

    **) The availability of electives may vary between years, and space limitations apply.

    Year 2:

    Semester: Autumn



     Students may choose elective courses offered at NMBU. Course Catalogue.

    Sample of Elective courses often taken by M-GDS students:

    EDS225 Linking Ecological and Social Resilience     

    EDS230 Global Development and Aid

    EDS245 Human Rights and Development

    EDS260 Global Environmental Changes

    EDS285 Global Food Systems and Food Security

    EDS349 Energy and Society

    EDS355 Climate change and Development

    EDS341 Decolonial Theory 

    EDS370 Gender and Development

    EDS379 Global Political Economy 

    Semester: Spring

    Master Thesis

    A 60 ECTS Master Thesis is normally written in the Autumn and Spring Semester of the second study year.

    A 30 ECTS Master Thesis is normally written in the Spring Semester of the second study-year.

    • Humanity is facing major global and local problems related to, among others, inequality, governance, and the environment. These problems raise complex, interconnected challenges for policy makers, development practitioners and academics. The M-GDS programme offers an interdisciplinary understanding of societies, change and development in their ecological, geographic, historical, and cultural contexts, in order to understand why and how development policies and interventions have been created and how they shape, national, regional or global change. The M-GDS covers specialised approaches to inequality and poverty, the environment, climate change, global governance, conflict and violence, gender, food systems, rural development, decolonization, and other struggles for justice.  A problem- and process-oriented learning approach provides students with critical tools for transforming knowledge into critical evaluation of policies, plans, strategies and projects for creating a more just and sustainable world. Students find employment in a wide range of national and international organizations including government agencies, research and education, civil society, multilateral and bilateral aid, media and business.
    • The overarching approach to learning in the M-GDS programme is problem-based and process-oriented and based on responsibility for own learning facilitated and supported by educators, as per the NMBU Learning Philosophy. This implies that, in many courses, students will be given responsibility for developing assignments, finding information, and deciding on the form of the presentation. The development of collaborative and communicative skills is central in the programme, and problem-based learning is often done in groups. Most courses will combine problem-based and process-oriented learning with other teaching and learning methods, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, digital and visual methods and individual work, including academic writing. Guest lectures by practitioners or scholars contribute to courses and debate.

    • Courses use a variety of evaluation methods designed to match the learning goals. In some, performance is evaluated based on work and assignments during the semester, in others on a final assignment or examination at the end of the semester. Course descriptions include information on the form of evaluation used.
    • The programme is taught in English. Incoming exchange students can design a programme involving a variety of course combinations.

Study advisor(s):