BA (Hons) International Development Studies and Languages - University of Portsmouth
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BA (Hons)

International Development Studies and Languages

UCAS codeLR28

full time4yrs


Study developing countries and learn a language

Course Overview

Why take this course?

On this programme, you will study more than poverty; you will explore transnational concerns, such as climate change, migration, gender relations, access to resources, political development, and the international balance of power, while developing the language skills to support cultural awareness and future employability.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Study a language to degree level, a requirement for employment in many NGOs and development organisations, including a year abroad
  • Study across several disciplines, including economics, human geography, politics and international relations
  • Undertake work or research placements, volunteer roles and internships alongside your study
  • Enhance your graduate employment opportunities, owing to strong partnerships with organisations across the globe
  • Choose your foreign language from French, German, Italian*, Chinese (Mandarin)* or Spanish.

* only offered at Beginner's level for new students.

What opportunities might it lead to?

You can expect to pursue careers in:

  • local, national or international government
  • teaching, lecturing or research
  • voluntary organisations and NGOs
  • advertising, marketing and PR
  • media
  • banking and financial services


Alexander Sykes, BA (Hons) International Development Studies and Languages student 2013

I have learnt about the impact a language can have in development and how important it is to be able to communicate locally, especially with community development projects.

Alexander Sykes, BA (Hons) International Development Studies and Languages student 2013


History, Politics and Social Studies

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • The diverse spread of subjects offered and ability to complete your own research
  • The critical thinking, analytical and debating skills you’ll develop
  • The passionate lecturers with a wide range of specialist research expertise

Browse all courses in History, Politics and Social Studies

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

In your first year you will take introductory units to the various disciplines that you will cover on the course.

  • Either General Language 1 (Beginner) (40) Or General Language 3 (Intermediate) + Language Project 1
  • Introduction to Development Studies: Policy and Practice
  • Introduction to the Developing World
  • Introduction to International Relations
  • Introduction to International Political Economy

Year two

As this course progresses, you will take core units that provide a coherent understanding of key issues in international development. Additionally, there is a range of options that will allow you to pursue your own particular interest.

  • General Language (Grade 2 / Grade 4)
  • General Language (Grade 2) / Language for Professional Communication 1
  • Key Issues in Development

Options including:

  • Economics and Politics of Development
  • International Community Development
  • Conflict and Disaster
  • Democratisation in Latin America
  • Guns, Glory Hunters and Greed: British and French colonisation in Africa
  • Managing Across Cultures
  • State and Society in East Asia
  • Gender in the Developing World
  • Global Environmental Issues and Concerns
  • The Language Project (focusing on current affairs, social and cultural aspects related to the countries or regions of study)
  • LiFE (work placement)

You can also choose to study a language of your choice as an option

Final year*

A large part of your final year is given over to specialist study, including the preparation of a dissertation. However, there are some core units too.

  • Dissertation
  • General Language 6
  • Language for Professional Communication 2

Options from:

  • Rethinking Aid & Development
  • The Anthropology of Development
  • Ethnicity, Class & Culture in the Developing World
  • Transitional Justice and Human Rights
  • Security Challenges in the 21st Century
  • China and East Asian Economies
  • Protest, Dissent and Solidarity Beyond Borders
  • Global Political Economy

*On this programme you will spend your third year in a country where your target language is spoken. The course is also available with a sandwich year.


We provide a varied, creative and stimulating learning environment, with enthusiastic teaching staff drawn from our research centre, CEISR. You will be taught in lectures and small-group seminars to develop your confidence and analytical skills through questions and debates around primary documents and contemporary issues. Our aim is to enable you to become an independent thinker equipped with skills that will continue to influence your experiences beyond your time at university.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 22% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 78% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 21% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 79% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 0% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 0% studying independently and 100% on work placement
  • Year four students: 15% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 85% studying independently and 0% on work placement


We use continuous assessment on our degree programmes. Methods are varied, including some formal examinations but with a main focus on assessment through engaging and challenging case studies, projects, presentations, book reviews and creative writing.

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 17% by written exams, 18% by practical exams and 65% by coursework
  • Year two students: 25% by written exams, 7% by practical exams and 68% by coursework
  • Year three students: 0% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 100% by coursework
  • Year four students: 7% by written exams, 20% by practical exams and 73% by coursework

Tutor's view


Dr Tamsin Bradley
International Development Studies

IDS at Portsmouth uniquely combines regional expertise with an interdisciplinary approach. We have wide regional expertise covering: Latin America, South, South East and East Asia, Caribbean, West, East and North Africa. The degree is also taught by subject specialists in anthropology, economics, history, sociology, and geography.

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Facilities & Features

Professional Endorsement

This course can enhance your employability credentials with its International Community Development unit, offering work placements across the developing world. Portsmouth is the only university to offer this endorsed module.

Research-Active Staff

You will be taught by specialist staff who are actively undertaking research in this field, ensuring your learning keeps you abreast of the latest developments. Staff are members of the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR), the UK's largest research centre of its kind.

Your Placement Abroad

We have well-established links with universities in France, Germany, Spain, West Africa and Latin America if you wish to spend this period studying, or, with University approval, you may arrange a work placement abroad. Students who cannot undertake the Year Abroad because of changes in personal circumstances transfer to a 3 year 'with Languages' variant.

Opportunities in Dakar (Senegal)

We have a unique and prestigious partnership with the British Senegalese Institute offering opportunities to graduates and students on their year abroad. In addition, there are opportunities to take up a post as an English language assistant or to work in development organisations in Dakar during the year abroad.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

For placements abroad that are taken in countries outside the EU/EEA, you will be required to meet travel costs. These costs will be in the region of £1000.

You will also be required to meet any extra tuition costs for units of study taken outside of your agreed study abroad programme. These costs will be in the region of £200.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

Whether it is working as a project manager on social care projects in the UK or for international agencies in Africa, the International Development Studies programme will give you the transferable skills and subject knowledge to make you suitable for a wide range of jobs across the globe.

Our graduates have gone on to jobs such as:

  • politician’s assistant
  • public affairs consultant
  • social researcher
  • information officer
  • conference producer
  • local government administrator

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

This course allows you to take the Learning From Experience (LiFE) option, which lets you earn credits toward your degree for work/research placements, volunteer roles or internships undertaken alongside your studies. The option gives you the opportunity to enhance your employability skills, to reflect on the ways in which you've done so, and to learn to express this to potential employers.

It is the only IDS course in the country that has a professionally endorsed unit, 'International Community Development', providing our students with enhanced employability credentials on graduation. Students, as part of, or in addition to, their degrees can take up a number of placements across the Developing World. IDS  is available in combination with a language or as a single honours course. Both degrees provide students with the opportunity to incorporate a placement year.

The University has a unique and prestigious partnership in place with the British Senegalese Institute. The Institute, along with other partners in Dakar offers different opportunities to our graduating students each year. We also have a range of partners that offer teaching and work experience opportunites with NGOs and other voluntary organisations to students on their year abroad.

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

Video Description

Portsmouth languages graduate, Orrin Thomas, reflects on his course and on his current role as a Business Development Manager.

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates. You’ll also be able to explore course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

If you'd like to tour the campus or meet teaching staff before you apply, find out about our other visiting opportunities.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Booking for Open Days for 2019 entry opens soon. Register here for priority booking.

University of Portsmouth
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Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484