MSc Global Urban Development and Planning

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Development Fieldwork

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI60502
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course aims to give fieldwork experience of social and economic development in action. It offers students an opportunity to observe development interventions in situ and to reflect on how theoretical explorations of development covered in some of the core course units are operationalised in the real world. 


The unit has two broad aims.

An academic component aims to provide students with a theoretical understanding and appreciation of development issues in the Global South. This is mainly based on structured readings and lectures where students are exposed to critical discussions of key development issues, but also to wider debates on the nature and form of interventions related to their area of study. 

An experiential component aims to provide students with a practical understanding and appreciation of development issues in the Global South. This includes a fieldtrip where students will have the opportunity to engage with a range of development actors, such as policymakers, practitioners and beneficiaries, and explore their area of interest in a structured way. This includes a combination of guest presentations, visits to development projects and programmes and internal discussions and reflections.


Teaching and learning methods

Academic (before fieldtrip): 

  • Lectures on theory and practice linkages based on pathway themes 
  • Structured reading tasks and group work in seminars
  • Individual assignment

Experiential: In-Country

  • Presentations by development actors 
  • Field visits to development projects and programmes
  •  Unstructured community visits
  • Group discussions and reflections 


Knowledge and understanding

  • Knowledge of the landscape for development interventions in the Global South
  • Critical understanding of the relationship between theory and practice in development interventions 
  • Knowledge and understanding of the challenges of doing development in the Global South

Intellectual skills

  • Ability to identify and analyse development concepts and practices 
  • Ability to deploy approaches, concepts, methods and theories of development to help explain ‘real-world’ scenarios 
  • Ability to explain the distinctive development experience of Uganda and the lessons we can draw from it 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Ability to interact and effectively communicate with various actors in development (e.g. donor agencies, policy makers, fellow professionals and lay communities) at various levels (local, district, national, international) in Uganda 
  • Team working skills: leadership skills; ability to organise self and others to accomplish tasks; sharing knowledge and managing differences 

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Feedback methods

Feedback for written assignments will be delivered via Blackboard. 

Much of the learning and interactivity of the course takes place during the fieldtrip. 

Recommended reading

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Fieldwork 70
Lectures 15
Independent study hours
Independent study 65

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Erla Thrandardottir Unit coordinator

Additional notes

GDI programmes on which course unit is offered: MSc International Development (core for all pathways with fieldwork: DM, ECCD, GTI, MMD, PGDP, PID) & as a fieldwork option for the MSc GUDP and MSc ID.

Important notice

The School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED) aim to run advertised fieldwork in the 22/23 academic year and we very much hope that students will be able to enjoy the fieldwork experience in the usual way. The ability of fieldwork to proceed, and whether any changes to proposed fieldwork might be necessary, will remain subject to the current global situation and factors such as the:

  • rules and guidance on travel and activities implemented and published by the UK and overseas governments;
  • outcome of any risk assessments conducted by the University;
  • educational value and student experience of the fieldwork, if significant changes to the proposed fieldwork would be necessary;
  • availability of appropriate insurance cover;
  • availability of appropriate travel and accommodation and any significant changes to their financial costs.

We will therefore assess on a regular basis the viability of any travel and fieldwork and communicate any decisions to our students at the earliest possible opportunity.

Any fieldwork that does go ahead will be subject to a rigorous risk assessment process and the implementation of any protective measures identified by the risk assessment to ensure the health and safety of all our students and staff.

If the fieldwork does not go ahead as planned, then the School's focus will be on seeking to offer a suitable alternative and ensure that the Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) of the programme are met.

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