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Development Studies (Certificate of Higher Education)

This introductory course in development studies is ideal if you want to build or enhance a career in the development sector, or if you currently work for an aid agency or a non-governmental organisation and want to study for a related award. 

You will learn about development processes and institutions and their social effects on individuals, groups and communities, at both a local and a national level. You will also explore questions of power and inequality, by looking at wealth and poverty, the position of women and minority groups, and age, disability and class. We will also look at the role of multinationals, the not-for-profit sector and NGOs. 

You will explore case studies, undertake practical work and bring your own experiences to your learning. 


  • We offer multiple approaches to the study of societies and cultures, human geography, and sustainability, poverty and development, as well as community and citizenship, at local, regional and global levels. 
  • Ours is a vibrant research culture, powered by a shared passion for learning and intellectual engagement among our academics and students. 
  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Sociology at Birkbeck was ranked 13th in the UK. 
  • Discover more about studying in the Department of Geography and the range of student support we offer

Progression to degrees at Birkbeck

If you pass 90 credits with a minimum mark of 50%, you can apply for entry into Year 2 of our four-year, part-time BSc Development and Globalisation or our BSc Social Sciences

If you pass 120 credits with a minimum mark of 50%, you can apply for entry into Year 2 of our three-year, full-time BSc Development and Globalisation or our BSc Social Sciences. 

If you already hold an upper second-class degree or above in the social sciences or humanities, you should consider applying instead to our MSc Development Studies.

Course structure

To gain the Certificate of Higher Education, you must successfully complete four modules worth a total of 120 credit points.

Module groups

Please note: you may be exempt from Module 1 if you already hold a degree. If so, you can instead choose an option module from the Certificate of Higher Education in Social Anthropology, with the approval of the Programme Director. 

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    There are no formal entry requirements. However, all modules are taught at university level and you should be able to read, write and speak English fluently. If you need help, we offer a range of academic English and language development modules.

    You will find it useful to have experience of working in the development sector (overseas, in an aid agency, or for an NGO, etc).

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • Fees


    Fees are payable per module and vary depending on the course. Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see the fees for each module. The overall cost of the certificate will depend on the modules you choose. 

    Please note: if you intend to study this certificate part-time and fund your studies via a student loan, this may affect your entitlement for future full-time funding. Find out more about funding your studies with a student loan.

  • Teaching and assessment


    This course uses a student-centred approach to learning, which includes lectures, the use of visual material, discussions, seminars, oral presentations, and individual and group work. 


    100% coursework.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue careers in development NGOs, policy organisations, charities or corporate social responsibility. This course may also be useful in becoming a social researcher, charity officer, human resources officer, higher education lecturer or policy adviser.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    This is a modular enrolment certificate, so you will need to enrol onto individual modules (rather than onto the entire programme of study). Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see class dates and times and to enrol.