Masters in Development Practice

Community Development

Masters in Development Practice

Project synopsis

The MDP is a world leading and uniquely innovative programme that blends science and social science to further international development. It is part of a global network, with a Secretariat at the Earth Institute, Columbia University in New York (and was the only programme to receive seed funding in Europe in the first round). The Global MDP Programme has been developed according to recommendations outlined in the report of the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice (2006). The MDP is rooted in evidence that effective public policy must be based science-based. The trans-disciplinary nature of the Global MDP programme equips development practitioners to speak the different “languages” of specialists in, for example, health, agronomy, and economics, enabling them to better understand the root causes of extreme poverty, and to address the challenges of sustainable development.

To date, Dublin MDP students have worked with the following organisations in Rwanda:

  • Nile Basin Initiative (NBI)
  • The Rwanda National Land Centre
  • Great Ape Trust if Iowa/Gishwati Area
  • Conservation Program
  • Akagera National Park
  • Karisoke Research Centre
  • Centre for Conflict Management (NUR)
  • Millennium Village Project (MVP)
  • Care International
  • Trócaire
  • International Justice Mission (IJM)
  • Search for Common Ground
  • Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)
  • Health Poverty Action
  • Volcano National Park (VNP)
  • Catholic Relief Service
  • Vi-Agroforestry
  • TechnoServe
  • AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)
  • Gender Monitoring Office (GMO)
  • EWSA
  • Ubwiza bwa Nyungwe – Beekeeper Union
  • CSO Rwanda

So far, students have worked with the following organizations outside of Rwanda:

  • Environmental Protection Agency and CIESIN – Sierra Leone
  • Community Development Research Network (CDRN) – Uganda
  • The Volunteer Project – Tanzania
  • REPOA – Tanzania
  • Federal University of Rio de Janeiro – Brasil
  • UNESCO – Dakar, Senegal
  • Wells for Zoe – Malawi
  • Camara – Jamaica
  • APA/CVM – Tanzania
  • DUCE – Tanzania
  • Gorta – Kenya
  • GOAL – Ethiopia

Between May and August, year one MDP students will undertake the field studies and clinical practice training programme. Students will engage with partner organisations across multiple locations to study, design, and implement practical projects that address pressing problems in developing locations. There are two core objectives of the module – firstly, to enable students to gain field experience in a supportive and structured environment; and secondly, to provide students with the opportunity to collect data for use in the final MDP dissertation.
On the first point, students will select a project with one of our partner organisations and will have the opportunity to research and analyse real-life developmental problems and devise policy and practical solutions.

Starting in Spring 2018, students will undertake their Second Year field programme with development organisations at the global/ international/ national levels. The placement is expected to be undertaken with creditable organisations currently working on issues related to international development and practice. The aim of this module is to provide students with the opportunity to:

  • Undertake an internship with a development organisation working at the global, international/ national level.
  • Allow student to work with development practitioners, programme/ project officers and desk officers in a shadowing capacity to enable them to acquire direct organisational and programme management skills.
  • Offer students the opportunity to develop their professional and career networks for potential employment in the future.

Programme Aims, Objectives, and Learning Outcomes
The objectives of the programme are as follows:

  • Provide students with a systematic understanding of knowledge at the forefront of learning in Development Practice.
  • Train students in the analysis, interpretation, critical evaluation, and presentation of scientific data, and to inculcate in the student an appreciation and awareness of the principles and practice of professional behaviour in academic, policy, and community settings.
  • Provide students with detailed knowledge and understanding of specialised social, economic, health, and environmental sciences relevant to the field of development practice.
  • Develop in-depth, integrated, theoretical, and practical knowledge of international development; and to develop the capacity to apply this knowledge for the prevention and elimination of poverty.
  • Train students to conduct independent research projects and to provide experience in the description of scientific problems, formulation and implementation of solutions based on scientific evidence, and in the effective communication of the outcomes.
  • Function as a member of a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Produce masters graduates with sufficient theoretical insight and practical skills that will enable them to pursue and develop a career in a number of different areas of international development practice and thereby make a meaningful contribution to global poverty reduction.
  • Produce graduates who are aware of their professional and ethical responsibilities.

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Understand how to design, review, analyse implement and monitor development programmes.
  • Develop management and leadership skills in development practice.
  • Develop networking, employability and negotiation skills within a professional environment.
  • Develop capacity to conduct policy-oriented case study on development problems and challenges from practice perspectives.
  • Understand development management from a wider professional perspective.

The Masters in Development Practice allows students to work with community organisations to identify challenges and work towards solutions together. Students will select a project with one of our partner organisations and will have the opportunity to research and analyse real life developmental problems and devise policy and practical solutions. These fieldwork placements allow student to work with development practitioners, programme/project officers and desk officers in a shadowing capacity to enable them to acquire direct organisational and programme management skills.


The Masters in Development Practice is a cross-faculty course, with modules from each of the three faculties Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Engineering, Maths, and Sciences; and Health Sciences, being taught. The course is hosted in the School of Natural Sciences.

Academic Contact:

MDP Chair (TCD): Associate Professor Padraig Carmody at