MA in Development

Understand and address existing and emerging development challenges in India.

Development encompasses the establishment of social conditions that foster individual and collective well-being in a sustainable and equitable manner. Yet, the path to development has seen numerous debates and changes across various time periods and locations, involving shifts in concepts, theories, and practical approaches. Resolving development issues necessitates a holistic grasp of the moral and ethical underpinnings of development and its implementation, considering the specific real-world contexts.

At Azim Premji University, we envision a world that is just, equitable, humane and sustainable while acknowledging that the realm of development is animated by conflicting imaginations. We view development’ as a process as much as an outcome and realise that achieving such an aim requires engagement with multiple stakeholders such as the market, state, civil society and communities to find inclusive pathways, especially for the most marginalised and vulnerable communities.

Who should join us ?

At Azim Premji University, join us if you would like to

  • develop a historically and socially grounded understanding of India’s development journey through multiple lenses.

  • analyse the different approaches and modalities of development action by various actors (state, market, civil society, community).

  • conceptualise possibilities for constructive action grounded in ethical sensibilities.

  • apply relevant competencies to address current and emerging development challenges in India.

Why study with us?

The MA Development programme at Azim Premji University is unique as it adopts a critical inquiry towards development while being grounded in empirical complexities.

While the core courses in the programme provide a rigorous disciplinary grounding in the epistemologies and methods of social sciences, the mandatory set of field practice components provide a robust exposure to experiential learning on the ground. The programme consciously adopts a normative compass in approaching the question of development itself.

At Azim Premji University, we offer

  • high quality, rigorous programmes that prepare you for different kinds of careers in the social sector.

  • a robust and extensive experiential learning through multiple field practice components.

  • a diverse pool of faculty with academic and practice-based expertise in a wide range of thematic areas and geographies.

  • an opportunity to engage with the Social Enterprise Cell, Community Engagement interventions in neighbouring areas, sustainable gardening, and many other student clubs and activities.

  • a collaborative learning environment.

  • a vibrant, diverse and inclusive community.

  • student support systems at various levels, including academic and co-academic mentoring by faculty.

Programme Structure

The MA in Development is an 80-credit, two-year, full-time postgraduate programme. There are four semesters that include classroom learning and extensive field engagements. The programme will include 10 mandatory core courses, 3 mandatory field practice components and 7 elective courses. 

The first semester core courses have been designed to enable students to grasp foundational concepts important for understanding of development through disciplinary lenses and tools of economics, sociology, and sustainability. In the middle of the first semester, students are expected to engage in the first field component of two weeks. 

Semester I will be immediately followed by a 3‑week workshop-mode hands-on course on Understanding India’s Development Realities through Data’ that prepares the students to make use of publicly available data. This is an integrative course which helps students consolidate their learnings from the previous courses and field practice. 

Semester II will build upon first semester learnings and introduce theories of development, state and governance and approaches to development action. 

Semesters I and II include two research methods courses which help students understand the importance of evidence and its epistemological foundations, as well as research methods relevant for the social sector. 

Put together, courses in the first year provide students with a strong foundation in development theories, ideas and action, as well as understanding data, evidence and methods.

During the summer break post Semester II, students go on a 6‑week field internship which is designed to help them experience working on a development intervention in an organisational context. 

This is followed by a core course on programme management in Semester III. Having experienced the implementation from a doing’ perspective during the prior summer, students would be well positioned to understand what is required for planning, budgeting, implementing and monitoring an intervention.

Semesters III and IV offer the students an opportunity to enrol in 7 electives courses of their choice from among 45 – 55 electives on offer. Students will select 6 electives offered in semester-mode and one elective in a workshop-mode that will be offered in Semester III

During the second year, students will also engage in designing and carrying out a field project. They will conceptualise and design a field project under the guidance of a faculty mentor during Semester III. They will spend 8 weeks during the winter break between Semesters III and IV, doing field work. Upon their return, they will work on analysing and communicating the outcomes of their field project.

Our courses are structured to help you synthesise different approaches to development. You will use tools to work in multiple settings – whether with government bodies, social movements or grassroots organisations. The programme will provide you a rigorous intellectual and ethical foundation through direct community interventions, social movements, research, policy and advocacy.

Course Structure

In the first two semesters, students will be introduced to the foundational courses that will provide the socio-economic, political, environmental, institutional, and normative context within which development takes place.

Our core courses:

  • draw upon disciplinary lenses and tools of some foundational disciplines such as politics, sociology, economics, and ecology for you to develop a deep understanding of the nature of development.
  • build a strong foundation for understanding data, evidence and research methods through a hands-on approach.
  • nurture skills and competencies including project management, social interventions to allow students to engage in development action.

Together, the core courses set the context for key debates in development and equip you with research and analytical skills required for effective action. 

In the second year of the programme, you can select from seven electives out of 50+ courses on offer, including one elective in an exciting workshop-mode in Semester III.

The elective courses will strengthen and consolidate the learnings acquired in mandatory courses and allow you to deepen your understanding of specific fields within development such as gender, livelihoods, health and nutrition, public health, environment, and sustainability.

Some electives will also be focused on building competencies in quantitative techniques and technical software while others will emphasise on perspective building.

This is an indicative list. 

Click here to know more.

  • Dalits: State and Development


    Engages critically with the ‘Dalit Development Question’-i.e, how have Dalit communities engaged with the Indian State, and in turn, how has the State responded to that question both in colonial and post- colonial India.

  • Gender and Development


    What is it about being a woman or a man that particularly heightens our risks of being affected by certain issues/problems?

  • GIS for Sustainability


    The course extends student capacity to analyse and understand the spatial dimension of these issues.

  • Migration in contemporary India


    A course designed for future development practitioners, action-researchers, and social activists to understand the challenges faced by migrant workers.

  • Public Health Care, Rights, and Accountability


    The course aims to equip the students with the perspectives of human rights and social accountability, to apply this framework to understand the health rights of communities, and to learn tools and techniques for strengthening the public healthcare system.

  • The Land Question in India


    The course prepares students to employ political-economy– and anthropological perspectives to explain and analyse several topics that they may encounter in their fieldwork such as land acquisition, women’s property rights, Dalit-Adivasi land rights, and the role of middlemen in land deals.

  • Urban India: Trajectories of Development


    A course to help students discern sociological, political-economic, and phenomenological tenets on urbanisation and urbanisms in India that aid the students to map and analyse the interconnections, flows and processes of development.

Field engagements are designed to help you gain practical experience, confidence, and capacities to conceptualise new interventions based on your own ideas.

The extended field practice components add up to a total of 16 weeks of time in the field, and 19 credits within the programme. In addition, many courses include day-long Practicums’, where you may go on field visits to different locations or organisations to understand ground realities and certain types of interventions.

Community Learning and Reflection

A two-week exploration of the life experiences of different communities across India where you learn through observation and reflection.

Field Internship

A six-week engagement with an organisation to participate in development action.

Field Project

An eight-week opportunity to ideate and pursue a development intervention that you are passionate about. 

Total 80 credits

Classroom Practices

The classroom practices in the MA Development programme entail a mix of lectures, class discussions, peer learning, use of audio-visual materials, films, worksheets, field practicums and case studies to make complex concepts and ideas accessible to students from diverse academic and socio-economic backgrounds.

The courses aim to engage with plural perspectives on development issues, and bridge learning from both theory and practice. Many courses include guest lectures by invited speakers while some courses are taught by experienced practitioners to bring rich, contemporary insights from the world of practice.

Group work is given particular emphasis in the programme, given the centrality of collective learning and action in the social sector.

Elective courses offered in the workshop mode use hands-on pedagogies for building skills for development action. Several courses offer students opportunities to design and pilot ideas, such as those related to social entrepreneurship. The Winter Field Projects offer students an opportunity to conceptualise, design and implement an 8‑week field project, under faculty guidance.

Faculty members constantly invest in developing new and innovative pedagogical approaches to aid student learning. 

For instance, Janata Express, a day-long simulation-based workshop has been designed for students to experience and understand the community’s worldview through their lenses. 

Surveypura, another interesting tool, brings a simulated village into the classroom for students to learn quantitative research in a fun and interactive way.

All faculty members teaching in the programme offer students additional support during office hours. The programme offers academic accommodations to students with certain kinds of disabilities, in line with University policies.

Our Graduates and their Roles

The programme has over 1200 alumni who are working in the social sector, working towards social change. Many of our alumni hold senior and managerial positions in social sector organisations, many have started their own social enterprises or non-profit organisations, and many have earned PhDs.

Over 80 organisations participate in campus placements annually. These range from large philanthropic foundations, small grassroots organisations, research and advocacy institutions, CSR organisations, and quasi-government bodies.

After graduating, you can work with

  • NGOs and voluntary organisations

  • Social enterprises and producer collectives

  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and philanthropic foundations

  • Research and Advocacy organisations

  • Think tanks

  • Government bodies

Typical work responsibilities include grassroots-level community mobilisation, local institution building, programme implementation and management, participatory monitoring & evaluation (PME), documentation, fundraising, or research for advocacy.



Resources & Activities


All Programme faculty →