Master of Philosophy in Development Studies - specialising in Geography

– About the programme

With the Earth's population set to expand from seven billion to nine billion in the next 50 years, humans will be influenced by the environment more than ever before. The world will need professionals who are able to monitor and assess changes and understand the significance of social change in poor and developing countries today. MPhil in Development Studies, specialising in Geography studies patterns and processes of natural and built environments and of human activities, and their causes and consequences. Being able to address many of today's big issues, such as climate change and population growth, graduates will be able to collect, analyse and report this information to enable informed decision-making to take place.

If you like to know more about the significance of social changes occurring in poor and developing countries today, such as mobility/migration, gender, children and youth, conflicts, entrepreneurship and environmental change, then MPhil in Development Studies, specialising in Geography is the perfect programme for you. Studying an increasingly globalized and transnational world this study provides an opportunity for professional work in the humanitarian and relief sector, working with social resilience and adaptation issues, and through teaching and research disseminate knowledge for positive societal change.

Professor Ragnhild Lund is responsible for the academic program MPhil in Development Studies. Below she describes her role as program leader and about the study program.

I have been program leader for this master program since its inception in 1997. I had then just returned from The Asian Institute of Technology – a regional university for the Asian region - where I had taught development theory and methods for an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural group of students. Upon my return I was asked by the Faculty of Social Science and Technology Management, NTNU, to develop a two-year international master program to be hosted by the Department of Geography. Since the start we have experienced great success, as students from all over the world have graduated from this program (a total of 170 students), and generally with excellent results. Today previous students work as researchers, PhD candidates, aid workers in bilateral and multilateral organizations, in Non-Governmental Organizations, and as teachers in regional colleges and secondary schools.

What are the aims and objectives of the study?

The MPhil in Development Studies, specialising in Geography, exposes students to development studies as an interdisciplinary subject. The aim of the study is to provide students from the global south with expertise that can be used in the development process in their home countries, and to give students from the global north knowledge that will make them capable of assisting the development process, either through working in Norway or abroad. The theoretical part of the study provide insights about different discourses of development and globalization, while the methodological and empirical parts of the study build on new and relevant knowledge about the global south. Attention is paid to empirical examples, exercises and assignments built on studies and development strategies of the global south.

We believe that such learning creates a solid basis for learning about ‘the other’ in an environment conducive for sharing of ideas, creating mutual insights, as well as building respect for each other.

Can you tell us how this master program is organized?

The programme involves 2 years of full time studies. It is structured around core courses (37.5 credits), elective courses (37.5 credits) and the writing of a master's thesis (45 credits).

While the core courses are mostly run by the Geography Department, students can choose electives from a number of courses offered by the Department of Geography as well as other departments. Most of the electives will be offered in the autumn term. The thesis is a substantial individual research project, and is usually based on fieldwork carried out in the home country of the students from the global south, or, in a country where the department or the student have institutional links. The fieldwork takes place in the beginning of the third semester (2-3 months).

What do you know about the perceptions of the students regarding this study program?

Recently, the first and second year students of the program were asked about their experiences of the program. They had several things to say about the learning environment and their own ambitions. Particularly, they emphasized encountering new teaching practices that bring about a new and exciting learning environment, as well as new electronic skills, new forms of communication, and mutual learning. Coming from highly individualistic, competitive, and hierarchical places of learning the new learning environment proved as an eye-opener to the foreign students. However, when talking to the second year student group many said that albeit a steep learning curve their ability to be reflexive had contributed to increase their self-worth and ability to think that they would be able to plan a future academic life (many aspired to do PhDs), as well as other professional jobs.

Thoughts from former student Michael Ogbe

I had browsed through a lot of university websites looking for the best school and the best programme to join as a master student. I wanted a study programme that would give me thought provoking courses, a friendly international environment and above all, a programme that meets my future aspirations. The MPhil in development studies, specialising in geography at NTNU was the best bet for me.

Upon receipt of my admission letter to NTNU to pursue the MPhil in Development Studies, specialising in Geography, I was really excited. Arriving at the department and spending two years going through all the various courses, interspersed with relevant and current theories, narratives and discourses; led by highly competent and friendly lecturers, the programme had met my expectations – it was actually a winning bet for me.

After successfully completing now (June 2015), I can best describe myself as ready for life: in all spheres, be it academia, business or politics, I would make my mark, and I will make it in style.



Degree: Master of Philosophy
Duration: 2 years, 120 ECTS
Programme code: MPSVDEV
Restricted admission: Yes
Language of instruction: English

Faculty of Social and Educational Sciences
Department of Geography

City: Trondheim, Dragvoll

This information applies to the current academic year

MPhil in Development studies, specialising in Geography - brochure

Please download the brochure about MPhil in Development Studies, or contact the Department of Geography if you want to order one or more copies.

Key facts

  • Established in 1997
  • More than 170 students from 21 countries have completed the degree
  • Opportunity to do fieldwork abroad
  • Required TOEFL score: 600/80 (IELTS:6.5)
  • No tuition or admission fee
  • Introductory programme for new students
  • Focus on academic writing

Contact information

Visiting address:
Department of Geography
Building 7, level 4

Telephone: + 47 73 59 19 10

Postal address:
Department of Geography
NO-7491 Trondheim