M.A Programmes.

(M.A. Development Studies) Regulations and Syllabus January, 2001

The Institute for development Studies is a multi-disciplinary as well as a multi-purpose organization` focusing on social economic issues of development in Kenya and in the Kenya and in the rest of Africa. Its main functions are research, training of East African social scientists in collaboration with social science departments at the University of Nairobi, provision of facilities which enhance intellectual stimulus between local and visiting scholars from overseas and a variety of professional consultancy services to various ministries of the Kenya Government, regional and international development agencies, voluntary bodies and the general public in Kenya.

The research programme of the Institute is established by the Board of the Institute for Development Studies in close consultation with the various ministries of the Kenya government. It focuses on high priority problems of national development. The research findings are disseminated through a series of publications by the Institute in a number of forms: Working Papers provide a medium for initial discussion of research proposals at regular seminars held at the Institute to which all interested persons are free to attend. For completed research, Discussion Papers are published and these have a world wide circulation. Then lastly, Occasional Papers which represent findings of larger research projects as well as proceedings of conferences and workshops held under the auspices of the Institute. These publications, as well as details of on going research are contained in the Institute Research and Publications Brochure issued regularly.

The Institute undertakes training of Kenyan Social Scientists through the Junior Research Fellow (JRF) Programme. Junior Research Fellows are Kenyans who are appointed to carry out their doctoral dissertation research in association with the Institute while their post-graduate registration remains with overseas universities or with the teaching departments of the University of Nairobi. The research and training functions of the Institute are facilitated by regular series of seminars attended by members of the University, the government and the interested general public through workshops and conferences.

Academic members of the Institute are under obligation to teach up to three hours a week if they are so requested by departments related to their field of specialization. This ensures that the results of the Institute's research are incorporated into regular undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

The Institute also serves as host institution to scholars from overseas engaged in research on Kenyan development problems. Scholars whose research fits into the overall research priorities of the Institute are given the status of Research Associates.

Through consultancy, membership of Working Parties and Commissions and Advisory services to a wide and increasing range of public and private bodies at the national, regional and International levels, the Institute endeavours to disseminate its research findings and utilises its exercise in the common effort to find solutions to problems of growth and development.

Regulations and Syllabus for Master of Arts in Development Studies


The Institute for Development Studies' master's programme addresses development issues using theories and methodological approaches of various academic disciplines. The courses, however, assume some formal study of practical experience in the social sciences. The curriculum takes advantage of the varied academic background and experience of IDS staff to offer a programme characterised by theoretical rigour, emphasis on research methodology, people orientation and an interdisciplinary issue-based approach.

The post-graduate programme in development studies will prepare students already grounded in the social sciences to deal creatively and effectively with development problems. All courses take a multi-disciplinary approach; all combine theory with practical application. The problems of development in Africa are stressed. Every course will include examples taken from the Kenyan situation.


The Common Regulations for the Master's Degree in All Faculties of the University of Nairobi shall apply to the Master of Arts in Development Studies Programme.

Admission Requirements

To be eligible for registration for the Master of Arts in Development Studies degree, one should be:

  1. A holder of at least an upper-second bachelor's degree from the University of Nairobi in any discipline.
  2. A holder of an equivalent degree or an equivalent qualification recognized by University of Nairobi Senate to be of comparable academic status.
Course structure and Duration
  1. The programme will consist of full-time study by coursework, examination, research project paper or thesis extending over two academic years.
  2. In the first year (Part I) all students will be required to take and pass a total of eight courses 5 of which will be compulsory and 3 will be electives. Four compulsory courses will be common for all students while the fifth one will be the compulsory unit in the module selected.
  3. Each student will be required to select one of the following five course modules:
    1. Technology and Natural Resource Management
    2. Development and Change in African Societies
    3. Human Resource Development
    4. International Development
    5. Planning for Development
  4. The student will be required to select three electives from any course module in order to fulfil the requirement of eight courses.
  5. The Second Year Part (II):
    1. Students proceeding to Second Year (Part II) will either opt for a research project paper or a thesis.
    2. Students opting for a research project paper will take in the first semester, four courses related to the area of research participate in a field - based research project, and in the second semester write and present a research project report for examination.
    3. Students opting for a thesis will devote the entire second year to research, thesis preparation, and presentation for examination.

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