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PhD in Development Studies by Research

Different course options

Full time | Institute of Development Studies | 3 years | JAN-23

Study mode

Full time


3 years

Start date


Key information

Qualification type

PhD/DPhil - Doctor of Philosophy

Subject areas

Development Politics Development Economics Industrial Design / Research & Development

Course type


Course Summary

Study with the world leaders in developments studies and realise your potential to transform the world with our PhD by Research.

The PhD in Development Studies by Research is IDS’s advanced research degree. It is awarded to candidates after a minimum of three years study, based on completion of original and significant research in the field of Development Studies – which is assessed through a written thesis.

Areas of study

We welcome submissions from researchers who share our commitment to:

  • upholding climate and environmental justice
  • reducing extreme inequities
  • fostering healthy and fulfilling lives
  • nurturing inclusive, democratic, and accountable societies

We are particularly interested in work that shows originality in addressing topics related to the work of our research fellows based across our ten research clusters: business; cities; digital; governance; health and nutrition; impact and policy; participation; power; resource politics; and rural futures.

Supervision & assessment

Each PhD researcher has a minimum of two supervisors. The number of hours of formal supervision will vary over the course of the PhD depending on the student, supervisor, and type of research. IDS publishes a detailed PhD handbook which sets out expectations and responsibilities regarding supervision.

During your PhD, you are required to give two seminars to the IDS community. The first, at the end of Year One is called the Research Outline Seminar and this provides an overview of your PhD plans prior to beginning fieldwork. The second occurs halfway through Year 3. This is called the Work in Progress Seminar and it focuses on the research findings and overall arguments made in the dissertation.

Your PhD work is examined by dissertation and viva. Your thesis must be no longer than 80,000 words. These limits include footnotes and bibliography but excludes any appendices.

Career opportunities

Your time at IDS will equip you with the training needed to launch your career in academia, government, civil society, or the private sector, and make a real difference in bringing about transformative change.

Our PhD graduates are defining and solving some of the world’s most pressing global challenges in their work as:

  • ministers in national governments and civil servants
  • high-level officials in development organisations such as UNDP and the World Bank
  • leaders and thinkers of civil-society and international development organisations such as ActionAid and Christian Aid
  • high-profile academics at universities across the world

Tuition fees

UK fees
Course fees for UK students

To be confirmed

International fees
Course fees for EU and international students

For this course (per year)


Entry requirements

You’re normally expected to have a Merit (an average of 60% overall) in a Master’s degree. Your qualification should be in a relevant social sciences subject. In exceptional circumstances, you may be considered for the degree if you have a qualification in a different subject area. You must also show evidence of substantial professional work experience in development-related work.