Global Development Studies

Global Development Studies (DEVS) is an exciting field that examines political, economic and cultural changes from the grassroots to the global. What distinguishes DEVS at Queen’s is its interdisciplinary approach, working closely with Geography, Economics, Environmental Studies, History, Political Studies, Sociology and Gender Studies as well as the Queen’s Aboriginal Council to understand the nature of interactions between and within the countries of the North and the South. We examine issues such as poverty, cultural imperialism, human rights, social policy, and trade relations. Courses on Aboriginal communities in Canada further help students appreciate ‘development’ as a relationship rather than as a characteristic of particular places and people. DEVS also offers a unique study abroad opportunities such a 4-week course taught at the University of Havana (Cuba).

See our Major Map to learn more

Mackintosh-Corry Hall
Room number: 
Department Head: 
Undergraduate Chair: 
Paritosh Kumar
Graduate Chair: 
Marcus Taylor

Degree Options

Bachelor of Arts (Honours) - BAH

Major in Development Studies
A major is an intensive course of study in one discipline, with approximately half of your courses within the discipline with room for an optional minor in any other Arts and Science discipline.

Medial in Development Studies
A dual course of study in Development Studies and any other Arts discipline.

Minor in Development Studies
A minor is a less intensive course of study in the discipline that must be combined with a major in another discipline.

For a full list of Degree Plans, see the Academic Calendar

Graduate Degree Options

Global Development Studies - MA

Study Abroad with DEVS

DEVS 305 Cuban Society and Culture
Cuban Culture and Society is a full 6.0-unit undergraduate course. It is part of an exchange agreement between Queen's and the University of Havana. The aim is to introduce students to some of the main events and highlights of Cuban society, history, politics and culture, with a focus on the period from the Cuban revolution (1959) to the present. The course is approximately four weeks long, held in the Winter and Summer Terms, and is taught by an interdisciplinary team of faculty members. The first two weeks consist of seminars at Queen's and follow a structured reading list. The last two weeks of the course take place at the University of Havana in Cuba. Enrolment in the DEVS 305/6.0 course is through an application process. Application forms are available through the Global Development Studies Department,

Independent Work Study Abroad Program: DEVS 410/6.0 and DEVS 411/3.0
One of the most attractive features of the Development Studies program at Queen's is the opportunity it affords students to complete a placement in a development context and get hands-on field experience for credit. Many of our students maintain that their placement is the highlight of their academic career. Students have traveled to places such as Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Costa Rica, Laos, Ghana; have worked with organizations such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Oxfam, Shastri, Polaris Institute, World Bank, Canada World Youth, SOS Children's Village, Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity; and have been engaged with projects as diverse as AIDS education, land erosion prevention, human rights, and new immigrants to Canada. The placement itself (18.0 units) usually takes place over the summer months following completion of the 3 year of study but requires per-departure training in the Winter Term. These units are not considered complete until the co-requisite Post-Placement Seminar (9.0 units) is completed in the following Fall Term. Enrolment in the DEVS 410/6.0 and DEVS 411/3.0 program is through an application process. Application forms are available through Global Development Studies Department,  Very limited funds are available through an application process to support internships but in general students are responsible for all costs.

Study in Shanghai
Courses taken in the Queen’s Semester in Shanghai program offered through the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures are pre-approved for transfer into DEVS plans.

Job and Career Opportunities for DEVS Grads

Development Studies is an interdisciplinary, undergraduate program that explores issues of relevance to developing countries and aboriginal communities. It examines the role of economic and political systems, culture, gender relations and physical environments as agents of change in countries in the South and discusses their implications for North-South relations.

Where could Global Development Studies students go after graduation?

  • Agriculture
  • Business development
  • Community development
  • Corporate training
  • Disaster relief
  • Ecological restoration
  • Editor
  • Education
  • Ethics
  • Fair trade
  • Food security
  • Foreign affairs
  • Fundraising
  • Health administration community and public health
  • Human rights
  • Immigration
  • International development
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Public health
  • Public service, policy and administration
  • Radio and TV
  • Refugee settlement
  • Research
  • Social work
  • Tourism and trade
  • Trade
  • Translation
  • Urban and regional planning
Note: Some of these careers may require additional training.

Career paths for Global Development Studies grads handout from Career Services >

Alumni Profile

As a DEVS student in 2010, Mira Dineen, went above and beyond and turned her class project into a book. Co-author of Persistent Poverty: Voices from the Margins, Dineen wrote the collection of stories about Ontarians living in poverty and also about the urgent need for a call to action for provincial welfare system reform. The project was part of a province-wide poverty audit organized by the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition.

Undergraduate Course Highlights

Some of the popular courses in DEVS include those about Canada, such as Canada and the “Third World” and an Introduction to Aboriginal Studies. Global-oriented courses that are student favourites are AIDS, Power, and Poverty; Labour and Global Development; Business and Development; Global Environmental Transformations; and, Technology and Development. A very popular senior level course is the Work Placement in Development Studies which provides a first-hand experience working with an agency involved in international development, either in Canada or abroad, over a 10-20 week period.

Undergraduate Admission for Global Development Studies

Students apply to Queen’s Arts (QA) through the OUAC (Ontario Universities Application Centre) website ( Secondary School prerequisites include six 4U and 4M courses, including a minimum of three 4U courses, one of which must be ENG4U. Applicants outside of Ontario may have additional requirements.

Graduate Studies

Global Development Studies offers an exciting opportunity for graduate students to further their academic training in this dynamic research field. Our interdisciplinary training offers a unique Master of Arts degree that builds from core strengths in the political economy of development and the cultural politics of development. In combining course-based learning with close supervision, the program provides students with key conceptual tools and broad thematic knowledge to undertake independent and critical research in a wide range of development issues.

Previous students within the program have used our training and supervision to undertake research on a wide range of themes: from issues of food security, aid policies and climate change to indigenous movements, health care provision and street children. Student projects have also covered a wide range of geographical regions: from Ontario to Bolivia, South Africa to Guatemala.

We offer the flexibility of a one-year course based option and a two-year thesis based option, with a diverse range of courses to supplement our core program. Financial support will be provided for students enrolled in the one-year course-based program. The current minimum level of funding is approximately $14,000 for the academic year September 1 – August 31. There is no guarantee that the stipend will remain at this level in future years. All Queen's graduate students in the first year of their program who bring new funding from one of Canada's three granting councils automatically receive a $5,000 Tri-Council Award as a top-up from the University. The $5,000 award is provided automatically and no application is needed.

The department offers an interdisciplinary Master of Arts degree in the field of Global Development Studies. The focus of our program is academic training for development research. To do so, we presently two parallel streams:

    • A course-based stream that ensures the development of conceptual thinking and analytical and interpretive skills, but does not require primary research. Instead, students will complete a Major Research Paper (MRP) of 50-60 pages, based on secondary research, dealing with a specific interdisciplinary question related to the field of development studies. Time required to complete the course-based program is 10-12 months.
    • A thesis-based stream that culminates in a full Master's thesis of between 75-100 pages defended before a committee of three examiners. The thesis will demonstrate the student’s ability to produce original work using primary data often (but not necessarily) gathered through fieldwork. Time required to complete the research-based program is 18-24 months.