International Development (BSc (Hons))


Programme Description

Are you interested in human rights, health, education and the environment in the context of development? Or the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and the fight against global hunger and poverty? If so, this programme will be of interest to you.

Our BSc International Development degree is the first undergraduate programme in Ireland to have a primary focus on international development. This course will help you understand key issues of development and deliver skills such as languages, research techniques and project management. In your third year, you will have the opportunity to undertake a five-month work placement; this usually takes place with an overseas development agency based in Africa, Asia or Latin America.

The course addresses key challenges in global development and includes the following:

  • poverty and hunger
  • agricultural and rural development
  • food policy and food systems
  • human rights, governance and gender
  • health and development
  • climate change
  • role of international development agencies and non-governmental organisations
  • migration and refugees

Among our goals, we aim to expand your understanding and skill base so that you can address global issues. These goals include:

  • understanding the multidimensional nature of international development
  • understanding the cross-disciplinary methods for the analysis of key development challenges
  • equipping you with practical skills to address global challenges
  • ensuring you can work effectively as individuals and in team settings

Programme Content

Year 1 Core Modules (50 credits)

  • FE1005 Introduction to Development Studies (10 credits)
  • FE1008 Data in Development Studies (5 credits)
  • FE1014 Communication and Facilitation Skills in Development (5 credits)
  • FE1019 Introduction to Food and Agricultural Economics (5 credits)
  • FE1023 Socio-Economic Concepts for International Development & Food Policy (5 credits)
  • FE1024 Introduction to Development Economics (5 credits)
  • FE1025 Introduction to Sustainable Rural Development (5 credits)
  • GV1218 International Politics (5 credits)
  • SC1012 Introduction to Sociology (Part A) (5 credits)

Elective Modules (choose 10 credits)

  • FR0105 Introduction to French (5 credits)
  • FR1005 French for Near Beginners (5 credits)
  • FR1105 Threshold French (5 credits)
  • FR1107 French for Reading Purposes I (5 credits)
  • HS0028 Spanish Language (Beginner Level) (10 credits)
  • GV1102 Introduction to Government and Politics (5 credits)
  • GV1204 Democracy, Ideology and Utopia (5 credits)
  • GV1400 Local Development and Public Health (5 credits)
  • MG1000 Principles of Management (5 credits)

Year 2 Core Modules

  • Food Policy
  • Globalisation and Development
  • Sustainable Livelihoods
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Human Rights Law
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Small Enterprise Development

You can also pursue optional courses in languages, health, nutrition or government.

Year 3 Core Modules

  • Programme Planning and Management
  • Research Methods
  • Agricultural Systems in The Developing World
  • Gender and Development
  • Microfinance or Food Marketing

A key undertaking in Year 3 is the 24-week work placement: in most cases, the placement is overseas in a developing country working with a development organisation. 

Year 4 

In your final year, you will write a dissertation on a topic relevant to international development. You will also study modules in:

  • Advanced Programme Planning
  • Global Food Policy
  • Macro-Economics 
  • Humanitarian Action 
  • Contemporary Issues in Development

In addition, you can take optional courses in rural development, co-operatives, markets and social policy, languages, health and government.

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year-to-year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Why Choose This Course

Our students engage with major global issues from a development perspective. These issues include poverty, hunger and inequality, sustainability, international food policy, human rights, peace and conflict, gender studies, and climate change.

The course will give you the foundations necessary to work in the field of international development, whether with a non-governmental organisation, a state agency, an international organisation or within the private sector, or to advance to further study. A distinctive feature of this course is the five-month work placement with a development agency, usually based in Asia, Africa, or Latin America. This allows students to gain hands-on experience of working in international development, to develop their practical skills, and to experience other cultures and societies.

Centre for Global Development

We are fortunate to have access to the UCC Centre for Global Development (CGD). The main purpose of the CGD is to provide a forum to stimulate further engagement by staff and students in global development initiatives and to enable interdisciplinary cooperation in this mission across the University. The CGD aims to bring the concept of sustainable global development to the forefront of UCC activities and ensures that our students are kept informed of the most pressing issues in global development.

Connected Curriculum

Our learning approach also reflects our commitment to the Connected Curriculum where we emphasise the connection between students, learning, research and leadership through our vision for a Connected University. Our staff are at the forefront of this integrative approach to learning and will support you in making meaningful connections within and between topics such as development, food policy, global issues, human rights, and global governance.

Skills and Careers Information

Students on this course develop skills to work effectively in the areas of international development and food policy. These include project management, research methods, data analysis, programme evaluation, and policy analysis. Students also develop a strong understanding of key global issues such as global poverty and hunger, migration, sustainable development, human rights, race, gender, conflict, and food systems. Students acquire general transferrable skills in areas such as IT, economic literacy, capacity for cross-disciplinary understanding, teamwork, communications and report writing. French, Chinese, and Spanish language options are also available.

Our graduates work in a wide range of organisations, for example within the UN system on refugee issues (UNHCR) or on gender equality (UN Women). Graduates also work in some of Ireland’s largest NGOs, including Concern and Trócaire, in areas such as agricultural development, human rights, poverty alleviation and food programmes. Employers value the diverse skills of our graduates who are well-prepared for work in a wide variety of public and private sector organisations.

Study Abroad

A central feature of the course is the work placement, which takes place over five months in Year 3. Students are placed with well-established development organisations throughout the developing world and in Ireland to gain first-hand experience of development work. Students on placement are supported by a Placement Officer and allocated a mentor from the Department of Food Business and Development.

A typical work experience includes opportunities to meet with communities in urban and rural areas, contribute to new development projects, run a social media campaign, conduct field research, draft policy documents and funding proposals, and generally contribute to the daily operations of the host organisation. Countries to which students travel include Bolivia, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Thailand, and Uganda.

As well as the practical experience of development on the ground and the technical skills acquired on placement, you will achieve valuable personal development in terms of self-reliance, self-confidence, communications, and teamwork. 

Africa Direct has found the students to be very helpful in getting a good insight into how our partners are performing. The standard of students has been very high and they have produced insightful reports as well as working productively for partners.

John Slattery, Africa Direct

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Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:

  • Communicate and work effectively to a professional standard;
  • Demonstrate analytical and problem solving skills associated with effective practice;
  • Engage in the application of frameworks and techniques in organisational settings;
  • Demonstrate understanding of social and economic development in a global context;
  • Demonstrate ability to engage with key global issues from an inter-disciplinary perspective.
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Practicalities & Assessment

Direct contact hours through lectures normally comprise 12 hours per week. In first year, additional tutorials may be scheduled. There is a significant amount of continuous assessment in the course, including through assignments, group projects, in-class presentations. Students are expected to devote sufficient time to reading, preparation of assignments etc, as required in a full-time course.

  • The overseas placement in Year 3 will cost approximately €3,000 - €4,000 (partial bursaries may be available). 


Written exams will take place before Christmas and in May. Not all modules will have formal examinations and many modules use other types of assessment including written assignments, group projects, in-class presentations, and some in-class tests. The work placement in Year 3 is assessed on a pass/fail basis.

Full module information is detailed in the section below.

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Entry Requirements

Leaving Certificate Entry Requirements

At least six subjects must be presented. Minimum grade H5 in two subjects and minimum grade O6/H7 in four other subjects. English and Irish are requirements for all programmes unless the applicant is exempt from Irish.

Applicants will need to meet the following minimum entry requirements:

EnglishIrishOther LanguageMaths
O6/H7 O6/H7 O6/H7 O6/H7
EU/EFTA/UK Qualifications

EU/EFTA/UK applicants presenting an equivalent school-leaving qualification should review the EU/EFTA/UK Applicants page for information on equivalent grades and how to prove their level of English.

Mature Students

To compete through the mature entry route, applicants must be 23 years of age on or before 1 January of the application year and apply online via the CAO by 1 February. The application should include a statement of interest. Irish Leaving Certificate Maths (or equivalent) is recommended. Applicants may also be called for interview.

Further information on applying as a mature student is available on the Mature Applicants and Mature Student Entry support pages. 


Applicants who meet the required level of distinctions in required subjects can apply for entry to this course using specific QQI FET qualifications. Please review the Programme Requirements on our Information for QQI FET Applicants page for information on related QQI courses, and visit Access UCC’s QQI/FET Entry section for further support. 

Non-EU Candidates

Non-EU candidates are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to Irish university primary degree level. In addition, where such candidates are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language. To verify if you meet the minimum academic requirements for this programme please visit our qualification comparison pages.

For more detailed entry requirement information please refer to the International website .

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Application Process

Non-EU Applications

For full details of the non-EU application procedure please visit our how to apply pages for international students. In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.

Not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above.

For more information please contact the International Office.

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