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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : African Studies

Postgraduate Course: Key Skills in Development Practice (ODL) (AFRI11006)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe over-arching objective of this course is to provide students with the skills necessary to work effectively in the fields of international development and humanitarian intervention. Whilst being specially tailored for those wishing to develop a career in the development sector - regardless of discipline or orientation - the course's applied nature still encompasses and fosters skills which are key for practitioners, policy-makers, researchers, and engaged citizens alike. Students gain skills to employ, critically evaluate, and analytically assess methods, tools, and techniques related to dominant development discourses and trends.

In this vein, the course offers a rigorous examination of the key frameworks, tools, and instruments used in the practice of development. Students will investigate various practical approaches used in the planning, implementation, and assessment of development projects: monitoring and evaluation, theory of change tools, engagement with enterprise and business for development, funding applications and campaigns, and in-country communications, amongst others.

Because of its applied nature, the course aptly complements those currently offered through ODL, and balances the curriculum of the proposed MSc in International Development. Students in the virtual classroom personify rich, diverse academic and professional backgrounds; various generations; numerous physical geographic locations; and equally varied career ambitions. Many specifically enrol in ODL programmes to advance in current or pursue future career ambitions. They should have the same opportunity as their on-campus counterparts to benefit from such a practice-focused course. Its inclusion in the ODL MSc in International Development is expected to attract more students and augment the popularity of the programme.
Course description This course exposes students to key frameworks, tools, and instruments used in the actual, day-to-day practice of development. During the course, lecturers will guide students' investigation of practical approaches and tools routinely employed by a host of actors in the planning, implementation, and assessment of development projects. These instruments include, but are not limited to: monitoring and evaluation, theory of change tools, stakeholder analysis, funding applications for development organisations, and engagement with enterprise and business for development.

The course format is a mixture of pre-recorded lectures, asynchronous discussion boards, and online practical exercises. Due to the practical nature of many topics treated in the course, students are expected to participate in many collaborative activities and discussions, focusing on case studies, conceptual analyses, and practical lessons. Videos from the Bigger Picture Project, a University of Edinburgh initiative that bridges practice and research in International Development, as well as those recorded from guest speakers for the on-campus Key Skills in Development Practice on-campus course, will all be paired with lecturers. The latter ensure that students understand key concepts, theories, and debates associated with each week's topic. The former expose students to the experiences, challenges, and reflections of practitioners who employ these tools working in NGOs and development organisations. Their contribution enhances students' exposure to and interaction with the real-world practice of development.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 70% of the course assessment will be based on a final essay (3000 words). This will be based on a question of choice from topics covered during the course. A list of possible essay titles will be provided but students may also devise their own title.

20% of the course assessment will be based on a portfolio selection of two out of five of the on-line activities from the course.

10% based on participation in on-line discussion forums.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critically examine the relationship between development thinking and development practice.
  2. Appraise and utilise appropriate practical tools and instruments.
  3. Utilise skills learned in key areas of development practice such as monitoring and evaluation, writing policy briefs, participatory appraisals, and meta-analysis.
  4. Effectively communicate one¿s analyses of international development and humanitarian intervention approaches, policies, and programmes to popular and academic audiences alike.
Reading List
1. Indicative Readings:


Scheyvens, Regina (2014, 2nd edition) (eds), Development Fieldwork: a practical guide, SAGE publication.

Carden, Fred (2009). Knowledge to Policy: Making the Most of Development Research, International Development Research Centre and Sage.

Desai V. and Potter Robert B. (2006), Doing Development Research, SAGE.

DFID. 2002. A Tools for Development: a handbook for those involved in development activity. Department for International Development.

Mikkelsen B. (2005), Methods for Development Work and Research, second ed., SAGE.

Thomas A. and Mohan G. (2007), Research Skills for Policy and Development. How to find out Fast, SAGE publications.

Sumner, A. and Tribe, M. (2008) International Development Studies: Theories and Methods in Research and Practice, Sage London.

Journals (all available online)

¿Development in Practice¿
¿Public Administration and Development¿
¿Journal of International Development¿
¿Aid Delivery Methods¿
¿Development and Change¿
¿Development Policy Review¿
¿Journal of Development Studies¿
¿IDS Bulletin¿
¿Word Development¿

A number of practical tools are available in the websites of different organisations, including the following webpages:

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Rigorously evaluating policy using various frameworks.

2. Formulating arguments grounded on empirical findings.

3. Communicating well-researched arguments and analyses in manners to suit various audiences.

4. Exercising informed independent thought and critical judgment.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMs Katherine Symons
Course secretaryMs Maria Brichs
Tel: (0131 6)51 3205
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