The Institute's teaching activities are centred on running La Trobe University's Master of International Development. In addition, we offer a Graduate Diploma in International Development, a Graduate Certificate in International Development, and professional development seminars and workshops for development practitioners.

The guiding aim of our teaching is to encourage thoughtful and reflexive practitioners, analysts and policymakers who understand the complexity of international development and who are able to effectively analyse and respond to challenges. We believe that this understanding requires students to be well acquainted with the history of development thinking and practice as well as having up to date knowledge and skills relating to current best practice.

In our teaching program, students have direct contact with senior and experienced practitioners from the development sector. Indeed, a distinctive aspect of our degree program  is the quality and experience of practitioners that teach into our subjects, including those who have worked with Oxfam, the Australian Red Cross, the World Health Organization, the United Nations and more. The core subjects and key electives in our program are listed below.

Core subjects in the Master of International Development

DST5CAD Contemporary Approaches to Development

In this subject we critically interrogate the idea of development from a number of perspectives including: growth-centred development, human development, post-development, gender and development, indigenous development, participatory development and alternative development. The focus is on contemporary manifestations of these different approaches, and we place them in historical perspective.

POL5MSH Making Social Change Happen

In this subject we explore the conditions that enable progressive social change and those that constrain it. We do so in dialogue with a number of practitioners involved in development. We examine the interplay of actors and structures in the development field with the objective of identifying elements of successful development practice.

Moving from broad debates in the social sciences, students are invited to consider a range of practical issues related to development practise, including: how non-governmental organizations mobilise people; the conditions for successful advocacy; the role of networking and informal structures in advancing social change; the constraints facing development and aid agencies: the politics of partnership and leadership; and the negotiation of power. Students apply this learning to specific projects they research during the subject.

DST5FMD Field Methods and Research for Development

This subject will explore the practice of development in complex situations. Effective development practitioners are able to critically reflect on their practice, and are able to design, implement and review their practice from a perspective of complexity and adaptability.

Students will be challenged to move from traditional program management approaches that presuppose a linear and stable environment, to more iterative and reflective strategies. Moving through the program cycle, consideration will be given to methods and processes which enable programs to be implemented in politically informed ways and in ways which promote the values of inclusion, participation and improvement. Key areas to be covered include:

  • Identification of entry points for change
  • Understanding and developing theories of change
  • Working from a politically informed perspective
  • Understanding how to contribute to positive and effective change processes in a deliberate way
  • Working with and through coalitions and politically informed processes to achieve change
  • Inclusion as a way to strengthen and broaden strategies for change, and ensure good line of sight in program implementation
  • Monitoring and evaluation to serve different purposes, with a particular focus on M&E for change and improvement.

Key electives

POL5ISD Issues in International Studies and Development

This subject will explore issues of current interest in international development. This may include topics such as: democracy and authoritarianism in the Middle East; the role of International Aid in the Pacific; climate change and environmental issues; legal processes and development; gender and development; food and water security etc. Topics will be selected on the basis of their salience to current issues, research interests at La Trobe and interest of the students. Three or four topics will be the focus of discussion over the semester. This subject will equip students with a contemporary understanding of issues of the day, and how different actors and agencies seek to address them.

POL5HSD Human Security and Development

This unit looks at human security from a humanitarian perspective. Students will explore the international humanitarian system, the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the Responsibility to Protect, civil-military relations in emergencies, issues facing refugees and displaced populations and international legal frameworks including the implications of the International Criminal Court for humanitarian practice. This unit will offer insights into international efforts to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity, whilst realising the challenges to humanitarian action in a complex world. This unit aims to challenge assumptions about aid and intervention, as well as provide discussion around the current trends that impact on humanitarian work. This subject will be taught with staff from the Humanitarian Advisory Group.

DST5DAE Development and the Environment

This subject examines the relationship between environment and development. Key concepts that are interrogated include sustainable development, ecological modernisation and steady-state capitalism. Particular attention is given to the issues of global warming and population growth. Students will also evaluate the range of policy responses that exist to address environmental problems including administrative, market-based and community-governance responses. The subject regularly includes perspectives on, and perspectives from, the developing world. 

DST5INT internship

In this unit students will develop contacts with, and work in, a relevant social change organisation (for example an NGO working in the area of international development). Students will develop an understanding of issues internal to the organisation such as its goals, structure, management and work practices. In addition they will be expected to develop an understanding of the organisation's relationship to its clients, allies and other stakeholders.  

DST5IDR International Development Research Report

In this subject students with a record of strong academic grades are provided with the opportunity to conduct detailed research on an approved topic within the broad field of International Development. Students are expected to undertake independent research, which will lead to the production of a 8,000-word research report in which the findings of their work are communicated in accordance with the requirements of formal academic work or as a piece of professional writing for a development agency.

Other electives

There is an extensive list of other highly relevant electives at: https://www.latrobe.edu.au/handbook/current/postgraduate/assc/arts/courses/amidv.htm

For further information about the Master of International Development, Graduate Diploma of International Development or Graduate Certificate in International Development contact: 

Dr Tim Thornton

Lecturer, Institute for Human Security and Social Change
Room SS309B
La Trobe University, Bundoora VIC 3086
Ph: 61 3 9479 5169
Email: t.thornton@latrobe.edu.au