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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Student Experience

Students on our Global Development Challenges programme come from all over the world, offering diverse and interesting perspectives during our online course discussions.

Students have also benefitted from a rich engagement with both academic and applied practice. Students who have taken the courses have, for example, integrated the academic work with their practical experiences within NGOs, international development organisations and charities.

Student Profiles

Alanna - Studying from South Africa

pic of Alanna

"I am a Canadian currently living in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and working for the volunteer organization African Impact. I completed an honours BA in political science with a research specialization and an honours bachelor's in global studies in 2010 at Wilfrid Laurier University. I began the course most interested in learning about how health issues such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis affect development in sub-Saharan Africa. I also have a passion for studying post-apartheid South Africa and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Having been interested in Africa and international development for years, I was really excited to learn more through participating in this program while I work in the field.

I really enjoyed the course. It's so interesting to practice development during the day at my job and then read about it in the mornings and evenings for school. It's exactly the balance I was looking for."

Click to hear Alanna talking about her experiences

John - Studying from the UK

John's Pic "I began this e-learning programme following a career working in the National Health Service (NHS) in England and in various voluntary sector leadership roles. Recently served as Chief Executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity. I was attracted to this course because I wanted to prepare effectively for a new phase of life involving international development in Africa - something which has been a long-term interest - and to do this alongside business and personal coaching/mentoring.

Participating in the online courses has been highly enjoyable, giving me a lot of fascinating opportunity to explore ideas, concepts and concrete experiences with students around the world. The course provided an excellent, coherent grounding in the politics and theories of international development with particular emphasis on Africa. It enabled me to think about international aid organisations in new ways and I am gaining a richer understanding of the specifics of international development, complementing the skills and experience of UK leadership roles that I already have under my belt. I have very much enjoyed working with the academic staff and the e-learning support staff and found them to be responsive to queries, very supportive and encouraging. It's been great!"  

Click to hear John talking about his experiences

Josephine - Studying from South Sudan

Josephine Pic"I am currently working in South Sudan as a resident program manager at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).  I previously worked as the country manager for HealthNet TPO; and as a capacity building coordinator for Oxfam GB in South Sudan.  Before starting work in Sudan, I worked as deputy chief of party/NGO specialist for DA/LSA-USAID's capacity building project for the parliament of Uganda; as executive director for Action for Development; school principal and education advisor for SOS Children's villages Uganda which is an affiliate of SOS Kinderolf International; a consultant to Save the Children (USA); and with Concern worldwide as a micro-enterprise development officer and in other capacities.  I have just been part of the Transnational NGO leadership training at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in New York, and my previous degrees were obtained from Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.

This is one of the most substantive and relevant courses I have ever come across in development work. I enjoyed it a lot. I have gained knowledge and insight into key areas of international development especially as they relate to Africa in a more balanced manner. I benefited from the e-learning support and the work in this helped me towards program design and civic engagement for the Civil Society Organisation coalition I support in the emerging State of South Sudan."

Click to hear Josephine talking about her experiences

Student Feedback

"It has been intellectually stimulating and there has been a very clear sense that the course material has built up in a coherent, logical way, enabling me to put down sound foundations for my growing understanding of the international development field - one that is new to me. I like the weekly release of course material which provides a rhythm to the study. I have enjoyed all aspects of the course, but particularly the video conferences."

"The course really helped me look at my NGO work from a more historical perspective, and made me question why we were needed in the area we work in in the first place. For example, I created a resource for incoming volunteers to read about the history of development in the area - something I felt compelled to do after some of the more historical-based readings in the course."

"I enjoyed the course very much and valued the significant learning achieved."

"I think we should also thank you for putting together a fantastic course, I really really enjoyed it! I was initially not sure I would be able to carry out the course work and a full time job. But in the end, the way the course was structured, split over multiple videos and reading material, with weekly questions that put the material into context and tied the week's readings together, was a great way to learn."

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