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How you'll learn – University of Reading

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  • Theoretical understanding and practical experience

How you'll learn

Our programmes are designed to operate in an interdisciplinary environment, which allows you to reflect the real-world complexity of challenges that global communities and businesses face when aspiring to a sustainable future.

Our teaching approach aims to connect theoretical understanding and practical experience, while an interactive approach to learning encourages you to develop a coherent understanding of current trends and debates.

“I have had limitless opportunities and support, from both academic staff and fellow students, to explore my academic prowess.”

Phillip Harawa, MSc Applied International Development

How we teach

We teach using innovative lectures, guest speakers, critical reading tutorials, independent assignments, group work, field trips and learning through practice, all drawing on student participation.

For example, recent students have visited the Centre for Dairy Research, the National Fruit Collection, and the world's oldest agriculture research station: Rothamsted. These experiences are vitally important; they enable you to see a range of operations, enhance understanding and learning potential, and provide greater insight into how world-leading research is conducted.

“The most unique thing to me in this programme is that it tackles development from a wider spectrum in which solutions to development are found by the learners themselves. The independent learning skills have given me confidence to do research work and analyse different development problems and policies.”

Youngs Nyirenda, MSc Applied International Development

You will also have the opportunity to use your dissertation to carry out fieldwork. This can help you to build your expertise in research and analytical tools, and engage with policy makers or Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), all of which can help with your career development.

We also provide training support in research and study skills. A "Personal and professional development" module is provided for international students, and all students also have access to in-sessional study support and learning workshops run by the University.

Programme structure and assessment

Our programmes have a modular structure that allow you to select subjects that meet your own needs and interests while developing a core set of knowledge and skills specific to your chosen degree.

“I love the fact that I am able to choose my modules from a wide range of available options to meet my goal, based on my career interests and aspirations.”

Cecilia Agrinya, MSc Communication for Development

Master's programmes start in October and have a common format, lasting 12 months for full-time students and 24 months for part-time students.

Assessment is on a modular basis, using a variety of techniques suited to the subject area. These assessments can include essays and other assignments, problem-solving exercises, presentations, class tests, and in some instances, written examinations.


We have a growing placement programme, and during the course of your studies you may choose to undertake a placement at home or overseas. Some students also opt to pursue field research abroad for their dissertation.

You will have the opportunity to engage with organisations such as the UK Department for International Development, British Council, Overseas Development Institute, JICA, Concern International, PZ Cussons, Mediae, GAMOS, Just Ideas, InsightShare, Aviva, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, FAO, and researchers from other universities.


Each programme has a set of core modules designed to equip you with appropriate analytical and research skills, and optional modules that enable to you to pursue your own interests.

Consult the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development's module descriptions page to find out the detailed content of each module. All master's-level modules are listed with an "M" in the "Level" column.

Teaching staff

Staff who teach on the Graduate Institute programmes include the following:

​Apply now

The quickest and easiest way to apply for postgraduate study at the University of Reading is through our online application service.

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