Change the world

Development Studies

Development Studies Department

School of Economics, Development and Tourism

The Department of Development Studies at the Nelson Mandela University, building on its successes, enjoys national, regional and international recognition, based on its internal staff, its network of research associates and visiting scholars, the quality of its work and its commitment to applying its real world challenges. The DDS is home to a number of contract researchers and project staff, internal and associate faculty, a range of research associates and visiting professors, a fulltime staff compliment, graduate-level students and a growing number of undergraduate students. The Department has a number of strategic alliances with regional and international universities and development organizations.

The Department also hosts a growing number of national and international, multi-partner research and development projects. Through a collaborative approach the aim/vision is to establish a world-class facility for advanced and innovative work in development, maritime and development finance.

The suite of advanced postgraduate programmes in development studies are designed for students to combine academic potential with first-hand developing country experience.

The programmes encourage students to reflect upon and deepen their knowledge, innovation and practice through an inter-disciplinary perspective.  The courses have an applied approach.  Students are provided with structured opportunities for study, dialogue, application and critical reflection.  A wide range of teaching methods are employed to vary the learning experience.  These include lectures and seminars, workshops, project-work in small groups and the use of videos. Supervision is offered in small groups and individually.

During the Honours year, in Development Studies, students develop analytical capacity in development theory and in contributing economic and social science discipline approaches including, economics, conflict management, politics, geography and sociology, by examining a wide range of current development issues and their contexts. With more courses available in rural development practice, transformational management, project management, conflict management, issues in economic development, geospatial methods, Local Economic Development perspectives, as well as business in developing economics. By doing their own research project, students become more skilled in writing reports and must write a treatise to complete their Honours degree.

Continuing to the Masters level in Development Studies, each student is encouraged to develop their particular focus of interest with the assistance of supervisors. Along with the coursework modules the preparation of their research project serves as the main vehicle for developing these interests as well as being the key mode of assessment.

A number of students have registered for the Masters by Dissertation and PhD degrees in the field of Development Studies.  The Department of Development Studies research areas encompass many of today’s most important challenges. These range from globalization, maritime development, diversity and identity, poverty alleviation, social capital, human security, peace and development, counter-trade and industrial development, HIV/AIDS and cross-cultural management. Please see the Departmental themes available.

Students who leave with a postgraduate qualification in Development Studies will be equipped with:

  • A practical, multi-skilled approach to development issues for careers in regional, national and international organizations as well as private and public sectors.
  • An understanding of conceptual, theoretical and methodological approaches to participation.
  • Abilities of critical thinking, analysis and reflective practice, and personal development of values useful in pursing participatory approaches.

The M Phil in Development Finance and PhD in Development Finance provides a broad unique platform for postgraduate research and training in the fields of development finance, in developing and transitional economies. It is especially designed to equip government employees at central, provincial and municipal levels as well as parastatal, NGO and private sector employees in development finance institutions with the knowledge, competencies and ethical value systems required in the field of development finance.

This programme draws on the expertise of lecturers/supervisors who are specialists in their respective fields.  The staff members on the programme have conducted extensive research in development finance and complementary fields.

Upon completion of the M Phil in Development Finance, students will demonstrate:

  • Advanced knowledge, insight and understanding of the principles, practices and procedures prevalent in infrastructural development, project finance, micro-enterprise and international finance for development 
  • The ability to critically analyse the theories, techniques and procedures for financial sector development, financial management and finance issues for development in a developing and emerging market context
  • The ability to apply these techniques and procedures in a professionally competent mannerThe ability to undertake independent research and to present research findings in a form that can be disseminated effectively to users.

The Postgraduate Diploma Programme in Maritime Studies, is designed to equip students for exciting career options and/or advancements in the booming fields of marine, maritime and coastal development, port management and development, as well as the associated areas of coastal and marine tourism.  More particularly it seeks to:

  • Equip students with knowledge of socio-economic and economic aspects of marine and maritime affairs so as to provide them with the skills necessary in understanding a coastal economy;
  • Provide qualified professionals with additional skills in marine and affairs and maritime studies;
  • Meet the growing national need for marine and maritime studies professionals;
  • Respond to the need for competent maritime specialists particularly in regard to the sustainable development and beneficiation of coastal economies; and
  • To respond to the national and international demand for specific skill sets to diagnose and resolve policy issues in
  • marine, maritime and coastal economies; and
  • To provide the analytical skills necessary to respond to emerging options and projects in the area of port management, development and security.

The Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies is an inter-disciplinary undergraduate programme which provides students with a foundation in Development and Economics. The programme integrates a deep understanding of development and economic development with an accompanying set of skills – assets which are crucial in the job market of the future.

The programme aims to provide candidates with a sound theoretical grounding in the principles and practices of economic development as it pertains to policy, research of policy and implementation of policy in a development context. Candidates will demonstrate the following exit-level competences:

  • An in-depth knowledge and understanding of the complexities of policy theory as it applies to the principles and practices of economic development as well as the roles played by different stakeholders and drivers in policy development and implementation
  • A clear understanding of and the ability to apply the concepts of methods of analysis
  • The ability to design and implement appropriate research projects, apply relevant research methods and present reports in appropriate format in a development context
  • The ability to measure the performance of different areas, countries and institutions in terms of economic development by applying appropriate criteria.


Mr. Sakhile Phiri

Ms. Bernadette Snow

Dr. Samantha Leonard

Dr Florah Modiba

Ms Danai Tembo

Dr. Amanda van den Berg

Prof. Janet Cherry

PO Box 77000, Port Elizabeth, 6031