International Development BA

Year of entry

2024 course information

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UCAS code
Start date
September 2025
Delivery type
On campus
3 years full time
Work placement
Study abroad
Typical A-level offer
ABB (specific subject requirements)
Typical Access to Leeds offer
Full entry requirements

Course overview

Students relaxing after class

This degree gives you insight into the challenges of global development. It critically explores how the competing challenges of inequality, poverty reduction, economic growth and social development are negotiated and contested, alongside ways in which people and institutions respond to these challenges.

Core modules in the programme introduce you to key issues such as the impact of colonialism, how different agencies contribute to development and how development operates in practice. You’ll also be able to choose from optional modules in your final year, allowing you to specialise in the regions, countries and themes that excite you most.

Course highlights

  • Study in our world ranked School of Politics and International Studies.
  • Critically explore the latest political, economic and social issues affecting the globe in light of evolving dynamics between the Global South and Global North.
  • Learn from influential academics who are helping to shape policy and hear from inspiring guest speakers.
  • Spend a semester abroad, with an opportunity to study at the University of Ghana in your second year (subject to availability at the time).
  • Get the opportunity to study abroad for a year and develop an international perspective or undertake a work placement to gain practical experience.
  • Add an analytical focus to your degree with the opportunity to apply for a Quantitative Research Methods pathway, helping you develop advanced analytical skills that are in high demand by employers worldwide.

Join our powerful learning network

Our Centre for Global Development brings together our International Development teaching team, comprised of academics who are leaders in their fields. Many have advised national governments, NGOs and transnational organisations in their specialist areas, and have experience of living, researching and conducting fieldwork in the Global South.

This course has strong connections to active research centres across the University that are involved in teaching, researching and debating international development topics. You’ll have the chance to get engaged with units such as the Leeds Social Science Institute (LSSI) and the Leeds University Centre for African Studies (LUCAS).

Studying in the School of Politics and International Studies

Video transcript
Audio described version of the video

Course details

Each year of your degree features compulsory modules that provide the foundation of your studies. These will teach you about development challenges and their perceived causes, as well as theories of development and Southern responses to underdevelopment. They’ll also develop your hands-on skills, which you’ll use in the workplace.

In addition to these compulsory modules, you can choose from a range of discovery modules. These are taken from across the University, allowing you to broaden your knowledge in different ways.

Year 1

In Year 1 you’ll gain the basic skills needed to study the topic. You’ll learn about the causes of, and factors influencing, modern development challenges, the effects of colonialism and the legacy of colonial rule in Africa, Asia and the Americas. You’ll also consider what you’ve learned in the context of political theory and international politics.

Year 2

In Year 2 you’ll build upon this knowledge, exploring the debates beneath international development. You’ll see how theory translates into real-world situations and look at aspects of development practice and various development agencies. You’ll also improve your research skills, learn how we create new insights and, via optional modules, explore related topics like public policy, security studies and international relations.

If you spend a semester abroad during this year, you’ll study modules at your host institution that replace some of those you would be expected to take in Leeds. See ‘Study abroad and work placements’ section for details.

Final Year

Most of your final year is dedicated to your dissertation. This is on a topic of your choice, requires independent research and lets you demonstrate your interdisciplinary, critical and research skills.

In your final year you’ll complete your studies with your dissertation, alongside optional modules from a range of international development topics, although you can also choose modules from across the School of Politics and International Studies.

Quantitative Research Methods Pathway

At the end of Year 1, you'll have the opportunity to apply for our Quantitative Research Methods Pathway. This will help you develop advanced analytical skills, which are in high demand across the public, private and third sectors.

You will learn statistical analysis techniques and their application to real data (eg survey data, countries’ statistical data) using statistical software. You will also write a dissertation in which you will analyse quantitative data to examine questions about politics, development or international relations.

You are not required to have studied Mathematics at A level for this pathway. You will need to attain an overall grade of 2:1 in first year to qualify for the pathway.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Year 1 compulsory modules

The Politics of Global Challenges: Becoming an Independent Researcher (40 credits) - This module will introduce students to key themes and topics when studying politics and international studies (POLIS). You’ll understand how you collaborate in an academic community and gain key skills for academic work, research, and scholarly independence. You’ll also be introduced to the main themes and questions surrounding the politics of global challenges.

The Making of the Modern World (20 credits) - In this part of the course you’ll understand how our world became increasingly integrated and connected, approaching the concept from economic, political, military and social perspectives. You’ll examine the concept of modernity through major historical events including the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution, while also challenging their dominant narratives. Later, you’ll learn how colonialism has impacted land, health and the climate catastrophe, how colonialism has been resisted, and colonialism’s more persistent features.

Global Development Challenges (20 credits) - In this module you’ll learn about challenges in global development such as poverty, health, hunger, education, work and environmental sustainability. We’ll introduce you to ideas of development, rights and gender, which you’ll use to better understand what these challenges are caused by. The module will also teach you how to analyse, synthesise and communicate ideas and information, which will be useful outside an academic setting.

International Politics (20 credits) - You'll start this module with a brief historical context, covering some of the key developments in world politics to date. You’ll be introduced to many of International Politics’ most important concepts including the international system, war, peace, sovereignty, collective security, inequality, and international organisations. You’ll also be introduced to regionalism in international affairs, and in particular to the international politics of Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

Year 1 discovery modules

You will be able to take 20 credits of discovery modules.

Year 2 compulsory modules

Approaches to Analysis (20 credits) - You will learn here about the different ways we approach research, with a showcase of the latest research in POLIS. This helps introduce you to key ideas like designing and implementing a research project, along with key methods in politics, international development and international relations. You’ll gain practical experience of gathering evidence, while many of your other skills developed will transfer well to employment.

Development Theory and Practice (20 credits) - Development theory is naturally the focus of this module, which you’ll receive a comprehensive introduction to. You’ll engage in various debates on how we implement international development. You’ll also learn how development emerged as a concept, how its priorities have changes over the years, and who wins (or loses) in different policy approaches.

The Politics of Development (20 credits) - In this module you’ll come to understand the lived realities of development and learn about the stakeholders in development policy. You’ll reflect on the tools used to ‘do’ development, learn about advocacy and policy work, and how we apply political analysis to development in practice.

Year 2 optional modules

You will choose 40 credits of optional modules from a range of related topics, typically including:

State and Politics in Africa (20 credits) - This module investigates the concept of the ‘African renaissance’, brought about by the continent’s positive GDP growth and increasing election frequency after the instability of the 1980s. You’ll consider if such a narrative is credible and learn more about the continent’s various social, political and developmental challenges.

Politics of Contemporary China (20 credits) - If you’re looking for a thorough understanding of contemporary Chinese politics, this module is an essential choice. It discusses the structure of the state, the evolving role of the Chinese Communist Party and how Chinese society is affected by economic and political reforms. You’ll also explore political struggles and development strategies in regions such as Xinjiang, and critically engage with relevant literature and policy debates.

Analysing Data in Politics, International Development and International Relations (20 credits) - The focus of this module is basic statistical analysis, which allows us to answer complex questions around human behaviour. Combining mathematics with a hands-on applied approach, you’ll learn how to use and apply numerical data and explain the results of your analysis. The skills learned here will greatly expand your dissertation topics and approaches and are highly valued by employers as well.

North-South Linkages (20 credits) - This module explores the principal forms of the political-economic relationship and interaction between the industrialised Global North and the newly industrialised/developing Global South. It analyses the key drivers, characteristics, and repercussions of this relationship, including how and in whose interests this structure operates. The roles of international organisations that mediate relations between North and South – for instance the World Bank – will be studied. Structures and processes of global production, trade, regulation and standards will be discussed, analysing their properties and identifying points of tensions and conflicts between Northern and Southern agendas and interests.

Year 2 discovery modules

You will be able to take 20 credits of discovery modules.

Final Year compulsory modules

Dissertation (40 credits) - Your dissertation is a piece of written work that’s 10,000 words long. It’s an opportunity to further investigate a topic you’re interested in but haven’t had the chance to research. You can also use it to further explore second and third-year modules in greater detail.

Final Year optional modules

You will choose 60 credits of optional modules from a range of related topics, typically including:

International Development and Social Policy (20 credits) - In this module, you’ll look at the relationship between social policy (designed to promote human welfare and social development) and the global South’s diverse development challenges. The module uses case studies to explore topics like disability, hunger, education, employment, health, housing, gender and inequality. You’ll consider how we design and implement social policy to achieve better development outcomes, as well as who designs it in the first place.

Violence and Reconciliation in Africa (20 credits) - The focus of this module is the causes, nature and consequences of violence in Africa. Touching upon race, class, ethnicity, gender, religion and resources, you’ll learn about African statehood, ‘warlord politics’, resource wars and state collapse. You’ll also evaluate current approaches to peace building and justice, as well as international intervention, peacekeeping and the International Criminal Court.

Gender and Security in Global Politics (20 credits) - This module offers a feminist, decolonised and intersectional perspective on security, violence and war. You’ll come to understand the key concepts around gender, sex and race in international security, explore gender-based violence, and learn how the intersection of gender, sex and race shapes our response to violence and war.

Radical Political Ideas (20 credits) - This is an opportunity to explore some of politics’ more radical ideas, challenging received ways of thinking. You’ll discuss the meaning of politics and what it means to be a political subject, as well as ideas of inclusion, identity, the self and freedom. Other topics for your consideration include what political subjects we give power, as well as what is made marginal or prohibited.

British Foreign Policy (20 credits) -This module focuses primarily on British Foreign Policy after the Second World War. It begins with the theory of foreign policy analysis, with later weeks focussing on regions, relationships and events crucial to the policy. Examples include the Anglo-American relationship, former colonial nations like India and Australia, the Post-War Settlement in Europe and the Cold War.

Global Political Economy (20 credits) - In this module you’ll receive a thorough grounding in the global political economy, as well as the tools to critically analyse it. It focuses on both global and regional institutions including the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. You’ll be guided in each case by core political economy issues, as well as the everyday and lived experience of capitalism.

Final year discovery modules

You will be able to take 20 credits of discovery modules.

Learning and teaching

We use a variety of teaching and learning methods on this course, including lectures, seminars and workshops. You’ll study independently as well, which helps you develop your research and critical skills. This will prepare you for taught sessions, where participation, presentation skills and group work are essential.

While encouraging you to become a self-motivated learner, we will guide you through your studies and help you to develop the skills you need to become an independent thinker.

You’ll also be assigned a personal tutor, who you’ll meet with regularly. They’ll offer guidance and support, helping with your academic and personal development and making sure you get the most out of your time at university.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


Modules will use a variety of assessment methods. As well as traditional exams, you could also be asked to complete essays, projects based on case studies, policy briefs, group presentations, work logs, research briefs, project proposals or development agency reviews. In your final year you’ll also submit a 10,000-word dissertation.

Entry requirements

A-level: ABB

We do not require A-level Politics for courses in the School of Politics and International Studies.

In general we expect applicants to have two ‘traditional’ academic subjects at A-level. See our accepted subjects document to see which subjects we accept.

When an applicant is taking the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) this can be considered alongside A-levels and may attract an alternative offer in addition to the standard offer. If you are taking A Levels, this would be BBB at A-level including grade A in the EPQ.

Alternative qualification

Access to HE Diploma

Complete 60 credits with 45 credits at Level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 at Merit or higher.



Cambridge Pre-U

D3, M2, M2.

International Baccalaureate

34 overall (6,5,5 higher).

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

H2, H2, H2, H3, H3, H3.

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

BB in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers; or B in Advanced Highers and AAABB in Highers, or AABBBB in Highers.


We will consider T-levels in appropriate subjects as they become available. In all cases applicants should have GCSE English at 4 or above.

Welsh Baccalaureate

Applicants offering the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate (SCC) must obtain a grade A alongside AB at A-Level (excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking).

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is a contextual admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and contextual admissions.

Typical Access to Leeds offer:

If you do not have the formal qualifications for immediate entry to one of our degrees, we offer a foundation year for UK students who meet specific widening participation criteria. Learn more about the BA Social Science (foundation year).


We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information contact the School of Politics and International Studies admissions team.

International foundation year

International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study a foundation year. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.

If you are applying from an alternative foundation year provider, please contact our admissions team to find out if your qualification is suitable for entry to this course.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.


UK: To be confirmed

International: To be confirmed

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will be £9,250 for students starting in 2024/25.

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only, as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2025/26
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students starting in 2025/26 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. When the fee is available we will update individual course pages.

Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2024/25 and 2025/26
Tuition fees for international students for 2024/25 are available on individual course pages. Fees for students starting in 2025/26 will be available from September 2024.

Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.


Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

Read our admissions guidance for common queries, information on how we will process your application, and advice on personal statements.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Politics and International Studies

Contact us

School of Politics and International Studies Admissions Team


Career opportunities

This course will give you in-depth knowledge of debates, approaches, strategies, politics and programmes in the field of international development. It will also equip you with an understanding of project design and management in the international development context, as well as skills in research, analysis, using qualitative and quantitative data, communication and decision-making in complex situations.

You will be equipped for a varied range of career paths including working in international development agencies, international organisations, governments, politics, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), research organisations, policy making, companies, media, and academia.

Our graduates have gone on to work in NGOs in the UK or overseas, research and consultancy firms, international organisations (such as the UN), the Civil Service, the media, or have continued with further study.

Read more about career opportunities.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.

Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad

On this course you have the opportunity to apply to spend time abroad, usually as an extra academic year. We have over 300 University partners worldwide and popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and Latin America. 

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

Semester abroad – exclusive to BA International Development

This course also offers you the opportunity to spend a semester studying at one of our chosen partner universities in a developing country (as long as you achieve a minimum grade in Year 1). The modules you enrol on there count towards your degree, meaning you don’t have to catch up on the modules you would have otherwise taken in Leeds.

While on the semester abroad you could also get involved with volunteering and learn from local charitable organisations and NGOs to see first-hand the daily work and challenges that are part of running such organisations. It’s a fantastic opportunity to gain experience of another culture and gain a new perspective to inform the rest of your studies.

Please note: the opportunity to spend a semester abroad is subject to availability at the time. On occasion, circumstances outside of the control of the University may require us to adapt our provision.

Work placements

Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.