Fieldwork, Internships or Placements

All students are strongly encouraged to undertake fieldwork of an appropriate type for their programme of research as discussed with their supervisor and doctoral committee. Some students may have an interest in undertaking an internship of placement with a development-related organisation. The option to do an internship/placement option is considered only if it is closely tied to the broader research goals of the student in one or more of the following ways:

  • Direct research opportunity. This would be an internship working within a development organisation that facilitates direct research activities. For example, some of our MA students have in the past worked for development organisations directly conducting research studies. Alongside producing reports for the host organisation and generating professional skills, the student benefits from the opportunity to use the data generated in their placement for their dissertation. An internship of this nature therefore gives the student an established institutional context in which to pursue research for his or her own degree.
  • Observation of the institutional dimensions of development work. An internship/placement gives students the opportunity to observe the inner workings of development organisations, their interactions with donors, governmental agencies, research communities, and the target communities of development practices. These kinds of internship/placements allow students to build strong professional skills – the day-to-day transferable skills from a practical work placement – alongside contributing to their understanding of the organizational processes that facilitate development as practice. The latter would form a core part of their dissertation topic.
  • Network building for research. Some internship/placement opportunities provide students with an opportunity to work within a specific community to build up the necessary knowledge, skills and contacts for their own subsequent research or fieldwork.

In all three cases, taking on an internship/placement would only be considered if there was a strong fit between the placement and the academic content of the student’s degree. For students seeking to undertake a placement, the rationale for the internship would be closely written into their doctoral proposal. The supervisor and committee would therefore judge the fit between internship/placement and the dissertation. They would ensure that the nature of the internship/placement, the projected tasks involved, and the timelines involved all facilitate the broader academic goal of the doctoral dissertation.