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Capacities for managing development

Development management engages with the multiple challenges of development. This module sets out to help you build your capacities for managing those challenges. It rests on the assumption that management is a political and ethical process, a matter of the use of power to bring about desired goals in contexts characterised by conflicts of interests, values and agendas. The module teaches a range of skills you need to manage development well, skills of strategic thinking, research, advocacy, planning, policy making and evaluation. You will find it relevant whatever sector you are in, and whether your work is local or global.

Vocational relevance

The module will have particular relevance for you if you are working, or want to work, in development-related fields in the UK or around the world. It will offer you the opportunity to share in learning that engages directly with professional practice, and that will enhance your effectiveness and employability as a development manager or as a professional (engineer/educationalist/health worker/agronomist/) who works in development contexts.


T878 is an optional module in our:

This module can also count towards C48, C96, D37, F11, F37, F64 and M03, which are no longer available to new students.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

Much of the material in this module relates to development in developing countries. The module uses this material to identify, explore and help you develop capacities – relating to concepts, frameworks, skill areas and techniques - that have a much wider application. These include:

  • appreciating the history of development management, and recognising how the past shapes the present of development
  • creating institutional and conceptual frameworks for analysing development management
  • making cases for, planning, implementing and appraising projects
  • knowing how and when to use different investigative methods and processes
  • working with data, testing assumptions and making cases for intervention
  • monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment
  • learning for advocacy and strategic thinking.

You will link these capacities to development management as a means of creating alternative strategies for development and bringing about social transformation.

The module is divided into three parts:

Part 1: Discovering development management
Part 1 traces the evolution of development management in theory and in practice, recognising the significance in particular of colonialism, bureaucracy and neo-liberalism. It provides a conceptual and institutional framework for understanding development management that applies to both the North and South. The central role of investigation in development management is highlighted, and will require you to build your capacity to investigate in a disciplined fashion. You'll look at current discourses of development management and encourages you to locate yourself (and your organisation) in these discourses. All this is set in the context of a search to discover not only what development management is but also for what makes ‘good’ development management.

Part 2: Making a difference
Part 2 takes as its starting point, strategic thinking in the context of situations in which multiple actors are intervening. The focus will be on the process of making a case for intervention based on the development of skills of investigation. You'll be introduced to a range of skills associated with project design and planning such as stakeholder, PEST(EL) and SWOT analysis, as well as problem trees, rich pictures and intervention planning. There is also a group exercise that guides you through the process of drawing up a logical framework, or ‘logframe’, one of the most commonly used project planning tools. It will help you interpret and understand the complex and diverse social contexts within which projects and programmes are implemented and steered.

Part 3: Taking on development management
Part 3 explores a number of critical issues in development management, with a view to identifying ways in which development management can be challenged and improved. It considers evaluation, the process of making judgments about the value of development interventions and (possibly) learning from them. You'll examine impact assessment, which involves both prediction of the difference an intervention will make and acknowledgment of the difference an intervention has made. This provides opportunities to face the consequences of an intervention, and hold interveners accountable for their actions. You'll explore governance – the rules that govern development interventions – and draws attention to the power that individuals and organisations use to set those rules. You'll look at the role of advocacy as, amongst other things, a process by which the rules that govern development interventions are challenged and changed, to promote the interests and rights of particular groups. You'll also explore development management organisational contexts and the ways these shape development interventions, including attempts to bring about good change through organisational strategy.

By the end of the module your analytical capabilities and strategic skills for facilitating change should have improved so that you can make a more informed and effective contribution to the environment in which you work.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will be responsible for monitoring your progress on the module, marking and commenting on your written work and whom you can contact for advice and guidance. Your tutor will moderate an online forum for your tutor group in which participation is expected. There will be a programme of online tutorials. While you’re not obliged to attend any of these tutorials, you are strongly encouraged to take part. You will also have the opportunity to participate in a separate online general discussion forum for all students on this module.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

Capacities for managing development starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2020 when we expect it to start for the last time.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    This module can be studied on its own or as a module of a postgraduate qualification.

    You should normally hold a bachelors degree from a UK university (or equivalent), or have had experience of working, in a paid or voluntary capacity, in a development agency (local or international).

    If your particular interest is in international management, we recommend that you first study Development: context and practice (T877). It provides a wide-ranging introduction to international development, and will give you a solid grounding in contemporary development theory and practice.

    Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum overall score of 6 and minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Outside the UK

    This module can be studied from anywhere in the world.


    Start End England fee Register
    01 Nov 2020 Apr 2021 £1440.00

    Registration closes 08/10/20 (places subject to availability)

    November 2020 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Future availability

    Capacities for managing development starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2020 when we expect it to start for the last time.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    Study materials

    What's included

    The module is delivered mainly online. You'll be supplied with a co-published reader supplied as part of the study materials and have access to a module website which includes:

    • a week-by-week online study planner
    • course-specific module materials
    • audio and video content
    • online tutorial access to tutor group forums and tutor-led learning events
    • access to OU library services.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet and have concerns about accessing online resources you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.

    An Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) version of the co-published reader is available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Alternative formats of the study materials, such as epub and Kindle versions, may be available in the future.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.