Course Title: International Development Research

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: International Development Research

Credit Points: 24.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 1 2020


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 2 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 1 2016,
Sem 2 2016,
Sem 1 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020

Course Coordinator: Assoc Professor Jose Roberto Guevara

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3046

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 37, Level 5, Room 17

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Required Prior Study 


Second year standing, having completed 8 x 12 credit points towards the Master in International Development program. 

In addition, to be eligible to select the thesis option, you should have successfully completed HUSO2079 Research Strategies (or equivalent). You must obtain approval from the Course Coordinator to undertake the thesis option based on the following criteria: 

  • The merit and scope of the research idea as assessed through a (3,000 word) written research proposal; 
  • The availability of supervisory arrangements for your proposed research project; 
  • A record of academic achievement in your program with a GPA of 3.0 or higher (or equivalent). 

In addition, if selecting the placement or project option, you should have successfully completed HUSO2159 International Project Management: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (or equivalent) before you commence this course.  

You should also have completed, or be at least concurrently enrolled, in HUSO2347 Practical Ethics for International Development, as it contains knowledge and skills which are relevant to your reflective practice. 

Alternatively, you may be able to demonstrate the required skills and knowledge before you start this course through a formal application for recognition of prior learning. 

Course Description

This course  is designed as a capstone experience to enable you to synthesize and integrate knowledge, connect theory and practice and demonstrate holistic achievement of program learning outcomes. The course provides an opportunity for you to more deeply investigate a particular area of scholarship and professional practice in the field.  

Your investigation may take the form of an individually negotiated thesis, placement or project relating to your professional context, or in a setting of your choice, through collaborative or participatory practice. 

You may choose to align your thesis, placement or project with your professional work if you are already employed in the sector, or you may conduct the thesis, placement or project in conjunction with an organisation that you have a relationship with. Your decision to undertake a thesis, placement or project will depend on your career objectives. Students are encouraged to seek program planning advice from the Program Manager  early in their program. 

This course includes a work integrated learning experience component in which your knowledge and skills will be applied and assessed in an industry (placement or project) or simulated (thesis option) workplace context and where feedback from industry and/ or community is integral to your experience. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Program Learning Outcomes 

  • In this course you will apply and further develop the following program learning outcomes: 
  • critically reflect on socio-cultural diversity and values, world systems and the benefits of local and global development practices for communities engaged in development processes 
  • determine and apply the specialist knowledge and technical skills required to creatively solve problems, demonstrating expert judgment and ethical responsibility in your professional practice in international development 
  • critically analyse, synthesize and reflect on personal awareness and lived experience, theories and practices of development, both local and international, to extend and challenge knowledge and practice in the discipline 
  • professionally communicate propositions, processes and outcomes relating to international development to address specialist and non-specialist audiences 
  • provide leadership within your discipline as well as collaborate with others 
  • use appropriate research methods to design and execute substantial projects, evaluate the outcomes and theorize about the contribution of your learning to the profession and knowledge area 
  • critically reflect on the causes and impacts of poverty in global contexts and to evaluate the theories and practice of development institutions


Course Learning Outcomes 

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to: 

  1. Plan, design and manage an applied and independent research project within an international development context 
  2. Engage with appropriate professional and scholarly literature 
  3. Critically apply appropriate research approaches, methods, participatory tools and techniques, in research design and/or project planning, implementation and evaluation, to respond to an authentic industry problem or address a contemporary issue faced in organisations 
  4. Present a research project, justifying how the findings or the work completed contributes to scholarship and/or your future professional practice as a leader in your field 

Overview of Learning Activities

Learning activities will include intensive workshops, guest lectures, presentations, independent research and regular seminars focused on sharing and planning your research, placement and project work. This course can be completed on or off campus. 

In addition, you will be expected to critically reflect on your own development practice, actively engaged in learning with your peers through Community of Practice workshops and on-line blogs.  

For the thesis option, the research process, will help you come to terms with the major existing literature on the subject, investigate new sources, gather, create and/or analyse relevant data, sustain an interpretative discussion, and present the argument in a logical and coherent form. Through this process, you will gain experience in discovery, critical analysis, problem-solving and interpretation.  

You need to approach an appropriate thesis supervisor. The supervision process is critical to the success of this course. They should assist you in locating relevant sources, people, sites and organisations, recommend appropriate methodological and theoretical readings, advise about the organisation and structure of the argument, help you refine your topic if necessary, and read and criticise your manuscript. Your supervisor should give you assistance and support, as well as presenting you with a continual intellectual and professional challenge. For this reason, you should be in regular contact with your supervisor. 

For the placement or project option, you will need to decide on and are responsible for securing your own industry-based placement or project. The minimum requirement for the placement option is 40 days. The project outputs are negotiated with the host organisation and can include project proposals, monitoring and evaluation frameworks, research reports, policy brief, training designs, etc. 

Through this process of deciding, searching, applying and securing your placement or project, you will gain career preparation experience and a develop a better understanding of the dynamic landscape of international development and humanitarian practice. 

You need to approach an appropriate academic adviser who is your guide to engaging with the relevant literature in preparing your proposal and your reflective portfolio. The relevant literature will help inform and deepen your appreciation of the specific development issues you are involved with, and ensure that the placement or project outcomes are of a high academic and professional standard. Your academic adviser will be familiar with the industry sector of your placement or project and can support and guide you in developing critical reflective practice. For this reason, you should be in regular contact with your academic adviser. 

As a Work Integrated Learning (WIL) course, or simulation, you will undertake a placement or project, or complete a thesis, where you will research, critique, question and compare industry practices. You will also receive industry/community feedback

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems.  

The thesis option is based on independent research under the supervision of an appropriate academic staff member, equivalent to the role of the industry mentor.  

The industry-based placement or project options are conducted under the guidance of an industry mentor with on-going advice from an appropriate academic staff member. 

An introductory overview of key literature, concepts and processes/methods relevant to conducting research, project-based learning and working with industry will be available. 

As the capstone course, you will be expected to integrate knowledge and skills gained during your postgraduate studies and seek further resources relevant to the focus of your research, placement or project.  

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal. 

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes. 

Assessment will cover both theoretical and practical aspects of your learning. You will be able to develop your knowledge and skills in relation to your own specific areas of interest in your professional practice. You will be assessed on how well you meet the course learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes.   

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.  

Assessment Tasks (Thesis Option) 

1. Thesis Proposal, to be completed and approved prior to commencing the thesis (15%)  

  • Approved Thesis Proposal (3,000 words)  
  • Submit Critical Reflections  

Aligned Course Learning Outcomes: 1,2 & 3  

2. Thesis (65%)  

  • Thesis (12,000 words) 
  • submit selected Critical Reflections 

Aligned Course Learning Outcomes: 1,2 & 3 

3. Thesis Presentation (20%)  

  • IDR Conference Abstract   
  • IDR Conference Presentation   

Aligned Course Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3 & 4  

The proposal is approved by the course coordinator and the potential supervisor. The proposal will include critical reflections of the feedback received on your proposal and how these reflections will inform conduct of your thesis. 

The thesis will be prepared in stages for review by your nominated supervisor. The thesis and the presentation are marked by two examiners neither of whom is your supervisor. This mirrors current academic practice and contributes towards your preparation for further postgraduate research.


Assessment Tasks (Placement or Project Option) 

1. Preparation Portfolio, to be completed prior to commencing the placement or project (15%)  

  • Approved Work Integrated Learning Agreement  
  • Approved Placement/Project Proposal (3,000 words)  
  • Submit Critical Reflections 

Aligned Course Learning Outcomes: 1,2 & 3  

2. Reflective Practice Portfolio (65%)  

  • Evidence of successful completion of the industry placement or project based on agreed outcomes (equivalent to 6000 words).  
  • submit selected Critical Reflections 
  • Reflective Research Report (6,000 words) 

Aligned Course Learning Outcomes: 1,2 & 3 

3. Reflective Practice Presentation (20%)  

  • IDR Conference Abstract   
  • IDR Conference Presentation   

Aligned Course Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3 & 4  

The proposal is approved by the course coordinator and the potential academic adviser. The elements of the reflective practice portfolio are prepared in stages and reviewed regularly with your academic adviser. The reflective practice portfolio and presentation are marked by the course coordinator and the nominated academic adviser.  

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program manager or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more. 

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions.