University of Chester

Programme Specification
International Development Studies BA (Hons) (Combined Honours)
2015 - 2016

Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honours)

International Development Studies

International Development Studies

University of Chester

Department of Geography and International Development

Chester main campus; core fieldwork at Level 6

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years (Full time)

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Geography and International Development


Area Studies


Geography and International Development

Wednesday 1st May 2013

a) Gain knowledge and understanding of development theories, policies and practice, international affairs and key development debates, issues and challenges

b) Develop a critical appreciation of historical and contemporary relationships between countries - in particular, between the North (industrialised countries) and South (developing countries)

c) Provide students with the opportunity to combine academic study with an element of vocational study involving active participation in development-related work in the UK or abroad

d) Equip students with the transferable skills (e.g. researching, analytical, presentational, team work, interpersonal) expected by employers of any Honours graduate

e) Produce graduates who will become lifelong learners with the capacity to make informed contributions to development work, policy arenas and society at large - at local, national and international levels.

Knowledge and Understanding of

The historical and contemporary relationships between the global North and South

  1. An informed sense of the similarities and differences between major world regions, particularly in socio-economic, political and environmental dimensions  (GE4005, GE5007, GE6004, GE6007)
  2. Theories and interpretations of, and the debates over, development and underdevelopment (GE4005, GE5007)
  3. Agents of development and the philosophies that underpin their activities (GE4005, GE5007, GE6004)
  4. The evolution of development thinking and its policy implications (GE4005, GE5007, GE6004)
  5. The functioning of the global political economy at macro, meso and micro level (GE4005, GE5007, GE6004, GE6007)
  6. The complex relationships between environment and development (GE4005, GE4006, GE5007, GE6004, GE6006)
  7. Environmental change management in a development context (GE4006, GE5007, GE6006, GE6007)
  8. Natural resource use and management in a development context (GE4005, GE5007, GE6006)
  9. Issues of international concern facing the Earth and its peoples (GE4005, GE5007, GE6004, GE6006, GE6018) 



Thinking or Cognitive Skills The capacity to evaluate contrasting ideologies, theories and methodologies relevant to IDS - and to select and apply appropriate theories and methods to the analysis of development realities

  1. Alertness to different interpretations of topical development issues, concerns and events (GE4005, GE4006, GE5007, GE5014, GE6004, GE6007, GE6018)
  2. The ability to search, select, synthesise and critically evaluate information and data from a wide range of sources, such as bibliographical, library, internet, media and personal observations (GE4003, GE4005, GE4006, GE5007, GE6001, GE6004, GE6007)
  3. Construct a sustained and reasoned argument, articulating personal perspectives when appropriate with clarity, coherence and persuasiveness  All modules
  4. An understanding of intellectual property and copyright  All modules
  5. The ability to think independently, critically and reflexively Al modules

Practical Skills

  1. Collection, handling, interpretation and analysis of spatial and temporal data ( GE4003, GE4005, GE4006, GE6001)
  2. Foreign languages (option dependent (Modules in French, Spanish and Chinese)
  3. Techniques in environmental and socio-economic monitoring and modelling GE4003, GE4006, GE5007)
  4. Field observation and survey  (GE4003, GE6001)
  5. Information and data handling and retrieval  GE4003, GE4005, GE4006, GE5014, GE6006)
  6. Decision making and prioritising tasks  All modules
  7. The ability to work in groups and teams and to recognise and respect the viewpoints of others  (GE4003,GE5007, GE6004, GE6006)
  8. Problem solving skills  GE4003, GE4006, GE5007, GE6004, GE6006)





Effective communication in written, oral and diagrammatical forms

  1. Organisational ability  All modules
  2. Ability to work independently and under pressure to meet deadlines within a guided framework  All modules
  3. Good numerical skills and the ability to apply numbers  GE4003, GE4006, GE5014)
  4. Good oral communication skills (GE4003, GE6004, GE6006)
  5. Ability to identify, represent and evaluate a range of issues, differing opinions and approaches  GE4005, GE4006, GE5007, GE6004, GE6006, GE6007)
  6. Ability to search, collect and synthesise information, to reflect on it and develop a structured, coherent and convincing argument  All modules
  7. Good interpersonal skills reflected in an ability to work effectively with others, through negotiation and pooled effort, towards the achievement of common goals  (GE4003, GE6004, GE6006)
  8. Proficient use of a range of IT techniques, such as word processing, e-mail, databases, spreadsheets, graphics and the internet.  All modules.
  9. Self confidence in own ability and the capacity to seek for and act upon assistance when required  All modules
  10. Ability to reflect on own work and respond positively to constructive feedback.  All modules
  11. Ability to communicate in formats appropriate to the audience  ( GE4006, GE5007, GE6004, GE6006)

International Development Studies (IDS) is offered as a Combined Honours degree only, in full-time (3 years) and part-time study modes. All students study six modules (= 120 credits) per degree level. At Level 4 students devote equal time to IDS and the second subject of their combined degree (taking 60 credits in each subject). At Level 5 students take a double (core) module in IDS and can opt to take a module (Researcher Development) focussed on quantitative and qualitative research methods in development studies. All students take a single Work-Based or Experiential Learning module  in the summer term. At Level 6 students may pursue an even 3/3 module split between their two subject areas, or can take 80 credits in one subject and 40 credits in the other. Students majoring in IDS are encouraged to complete an IDS dissertation (double module) or an Independent Project (single module) at Level 6. Credits are awarded for the achievement of module learning outcomes. The credit value of all the modules listed below is 20 unless otherwise indicated. Twenty credits equates to 200 hours of study time and 48 hours contact time.

The IDS programme approaches development in a holistic, questioning and multidisciplinary way. Several strands of international development are traced across the three levels of the degree programme, namely the environment and sustainable development; economic, social and political development; and  poverty reduction. The Level 4 core modules, 'Introduction to World Development' and 'People, Hazards and Resources' provide an initial overview of issues in development and, as such, consider social, economic, political, historical and environmental aspects of development. They provide a framework within which to understand the progress towards development and many of the defining environment and development issues of the present time. 'Foundations for Successful Studentship' is the final core module at this level and is intended to facilitate an effective transition into the HE learning environment by focusing on key study skills, cartography and field observation. A unique element of this module is the opportunity for independent fieldwork in Liverpool to research the work of community associations from the Global South who support ethnic groups and refugees.

In Level 5 the core module, 'Challenges of Development', explores in depth the themes of economic, political ,social and environmental challenges which need to be addressed in order for development to progress. Students study the nature and origin of challenges at global and regional scales. The economic theme focuses on the roles of business, trade and the global institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organisation (WTO). These are analysed in the context of the dominant discourse driven by rich nations. Global financial institutions have sognificant leverage in some nations and regions. The political theme analyses heightened concerns over global energy and food security, the role of the state, conflict and the agenda pursued by developed nations and institutions. Global climate change is leading to concerns about vulnerability of the developing world to natural hazards. These environmental challenges, and their associated risks, are explored particularly in the context of land degradation and famine, cyclones, flooding and sea level rise.  Global social challenges associated with health and urbanisation are also investigated in this module.

 The six-week block of time devoted to Experiential Learning at the end of Level 5 represents a very distinctive element of the University of Chester experience. Students choose between a number of 20 credit options including the centrally administered Work-Based Learning module (WB5001), providing the opportunity to gain useful experience in one of a wide range of public and private sector organisations. Alternatively students may use the WBL opportunity to gain direct experience of international development issues with options overseas. It is also possible for students to select an introductory course in teaching English as a foreign language. (This course does not lead to an externally accredited qualification). IDS students with an interest in advancing their field-based skills can select ‘Fieldwork Applications' (GE5008), a residential fieldwork based in New York.

For students seeking an element of vocational training in the field of international development, at Level 5 the programme offers the opportunity to undertake Work Based/Experiential Learning in a UK/Europe or non-European context. Students are able to use their international experience to inform the study of development strategies in the core module at Level 6 - ‘Development in Practice’.  

Development in Practice, the Level 6 core module, seeks to build on Level 5 by analysing the effectiveness of various stakeholders and their strategies in facing up to the development challenges. The Millennium Development Goals, with their ambitious targets for 2015, marked recognition of the need for international collaboration and cooperation to respond to acute poverty, social degradation and vulnerability. Concerns over the impact of vast sums of financial aid given to the developing world have also raised questions about the effectiveness of development strategies. As globalisation intensifies and communities face increased exposure to the risks of global forces, a wide variety of interest groups from both ‘North’ and ‘South’ are driving a ‘pro-poor’ agenda. The strategies employed to deliver this agenda vary in structure and effectiveness. The evaluation is partly reflective of those strategies of the past 25 years and partly investigative of current programmes. The module includes opportunity for students to reflect on any international experiences in Level 5. An integral part of this module is a visit to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva for a series of UN agency presentations about UN development strategies.


Combined Honours only
Mod-Code Level Title Credit Major Equal Minor
GE4003 4 Foundations for Successful Studentship 20 Comp Comp Comp
GE4005 4 Introduction to World Development 20 Comp Comp Comp
GE4006 4 People, Hazards and Resources 20 Comp Comp Comp
GE5007 5 Challenges of Development 40 Comp Comp Comp
GE5008 5 Fieldwork Applications 20 Optional Optional Optional
GE5014 5 Researcher Development 20 Optional Optional N/A
ML5210 5 Introduction to TESOL/TEFL 20 Optional Optional Optional
WB5004 5 Learning in the Wider World 20 Optional Optional Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional Optional Optional
GE6001 6 Dissertation 40 Optional N/A N/A
GE6002 6 Independent Project 20 Optional Optional N/A
GE6004 6 Development in Practice 40 Comp Comp Comp
GE6006 6 Sustainable Futures 20 Optional Optional N/A
GE6007 6 Emerging Nations 20 Optional Optional N/A
GE6011 6 Geohazards and Conservation 20 N/A N/A N/A
GE6016 6 Environment, Poverty and Health 20 N/A N/A N/A
GE6018 6 Excluded Peoples? Migrants and Refugees 20 Optional Optional N/A

Level Credits Components (Minor, equally weighted and major)

Level 4 = 60 credits (completion entitles the student to a CertHE)
Note: Students combining Geography and Natural Hazard Management or Geography and International Development Studies also take the 'Tutorial' module (GE4004) at Level 4 as 'Foundations for Successful Studentship' (GE4003) is included in the core modulesfor all programmes within the Department of Geography and International Development.

Level 5 = either 60credits + 20 work based/experiential learning credits, or 40 credits + 20 work based/experiential learning credits (completion entitles the student to a DipHE)

Level 6 = 80 credits =Major
Level 6 = 60 credits = Equal
Level 6 = 40 credits = Minor

Credits are counted towards a Combined Honours Degree and need to be supplemented by credits achieved in another subject to gain the qualification.

  • Certificate of Higher Education - 120 credits (Level 4)
  • Diploma of Higher Education - 240 credits (Level 5)
  • Honours Degree - 360 credits (Level 6)

280 UCAS points, of which 200 points must be obtained from GCE A Levels, including a grade C in one subject.  The remaining points may be achieved from GCE AS Levels, or from Level 3 Key Skills.

- BTEC National Diploma: merit/distinction profile

- OCR National Extended Diploma/Diploma: merit/distinction profile

- Irish Highers/Scottish Highers: B in 4 subjects

- International Baccalaureate: 24 points

- QAA recognised Access to HE Diploma, Open College Units or Open University Credits.

- The Advanced Diploma: acceptable on its own

Please note: A BTEC National Award, OCR National Certificate or the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) will be recognised in our tariff offer.

The IDS programme welcomes applicants from non-‘conventional’ (i.e. straight from school/College) pathways into Higher Education. It is hoped that this type of applicant will be particularly attracted by the ‘applied’ and vocational emphasis of the IDS programme.   

The IDS Programme has been constructed with reference to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Benchmarking Document for Area Studies (2008) and Geography (2014). It should be borne in mind that while these provide a good and helpful framework, it is inappropriate to apply both statements fully to International Development Studies. However the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary nature of the IDS programme at Chester does provide “dynamic and diverse opportunities for students to focus their learning on parts of the world for which they feel a strong intellectual curiosity" (Area Studies Section 1.1), and allows students to "work across, as well as interrogate, traditional discipline boundaries in innovative ways" (Area Studies Section 1.6). It also "requires diverse theoretical approaches in order to make available the full suite of analytic and interpretative tools provided by the natural and social sciences, by the humanities, and by information technologies" (Geography 1.4).

The benchmarking documents, therefore, provide an appropriate framework to use for the content of the IDS programme.

The following Area Studies Benchmark statements are relevant for this IDS programme:

1) Students gain parallel and complementary knowledge and skills…learning how to integrate a variety of approaches in formulating and solving problems, and using diverse materials and information sources (Section 1.6);

2) Students are offered valuable educational pathways through programmes giving prominence to the distinctiveness and significance of specific areas, and fostering a critical awareness of diversity across societies, both past and present. A particular contribution is made in the context of the increasingly globalised nature of the world. With globalisation comes new questions about local identity, and the programme is centrally placed to consider the issues that emerge from the interplay between the global and the local (Section 1.7);

3) Students acquire transferable skills that are valuable in many aspects of work (Section 1.9);

4) Students are provided with specialist expertise which is important to government, business and citizenship in a world where international awareness is increasingly important. Graduates are encouraged to develop a strong sense of perspective and flexibility in thinking, and they are attuned to diversity. All of these features have strong employer appeal in a multicultural society (Section 1.9);

6) Students are encouraged to respond to new issues and academic debates with both new and emerging methodologies. (Section 1.7)

The following Geography Benchmark statements are relevant for this IDS programme:

1) the role of fieldwork and other forms of experiential learning in the development of knowledge and understanding (Section 2.2).

2) fostering a range of personal attributes relevant to the world beyond higher education, which promote the ability of students to engage in lifelong learning, to consider ethics and values, to contribute to the wider community, and to gain employment (Section  2.5).

3) demonstrating knowledge of the main dimensions and scales of economic, social, political and environmental inequality and difference; familiarity with a range of interpretations of these processes, and awareness that scale itself can be contested and politicised. A critical evaluation of the concepts underlying development and sustainability is an integral part of the knowledge base of the student (Section 3.8).

Together these benchmark statements have guided the design and delivery of the IDS programme in terms of: 

a) the degree of methodological and conceptual coherence, deriving from the understanding and application of different disciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches;

b) the overall cohesion of a range of modules focused on a set of geographically, socio-economically, politically and culturally related societies:



Attainment of the aims and objectives of the IDS programme is facilitated through adoption of a wide range of learning and teaching methods, e.g. lectures, tutorials, group discussions, video-based learning, seminars, debate forums, project-based problem solving, presentations and experiential learning. These are also supplemented by self-directed learning including reading, essay preparation, small group work and use of intranet and internet. 

The overarching assessment strategy is to encourage and develop independent learning and reflective abilities in each student, and to facilitate the realisation of the student's full potential. This is achieved through a gradual progression towards increasingly autonomous learning and assessment through the three levels. The programme aims to produce graduates that can engage with life-long learning, and who are able to make active contributions to their communities and society at large. The assessment methods used test this, and seek to enhance understanding and knowledge, and to develop students' key skills as well as cognitive and practical skills. They are consistent across the programme. All modules are assessed using more than one method. A wide range of assessment methods are adopted, including short analytical pieces, extended essays, briefing papers, consultancy reports, posters, reflective commentaries, end-of-module exams, oral presentations and dissertations. They are designed to achieve the overarching aims of the programme and its learning outcomes.

Formative feedback is available to all students in order to support their learning and assessment . Feedback on assessed work is an essential element of the learning process and students receive written and / or electronic feedback on all submitted work. Additionally group feedback sessions are provided following the return of substantive work.   

The programme has a strong vocational orientation, and is distinctive in providing the opportunity to combine academic training with practical, 'hands-on' experience of development-related work in this country or abroad. It aims to produce graduates who will be attractive to employers because of their broad suite of transferable skills (e.g. communication skills - as manifested in report writing and seminar presentation; research skills, e.g. information searching, gathering and analysis; interpersonal and organisation skills, e.g. team work and project planning and management), their understanding of global-local links, and their rounded knowledge of international affairs. In addition, it aims to equip students who major in IDS with the specialist knowledge and skills base appropriate to employment/further study in the development field. Possible career paths include: overseas development work (e.g. for a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) or government development agency), national/regional development agencies, business, journalism (international affairs), tourism, teaching and development education (e.g. citizenship), local and regional government, postgraduate study and more advanced research.


The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

IDS can, at present, be combined with several  other subjects in the Combined Honours programme. It combines particularly well with Geography, Natural Hazard Management, Languages, History,Theology and other social sciences. Distinctive features of the programme are the opportunities it presents to take specialist modules on Emerging Nations (China and India) and Excluded Peoples at Level 6, and the opportunities at Level 5 for Work-Based/ Experiential Learning in UK, Introduction to teaching English as a foreign language, and overseas development contexts.

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