Development Studies

Development studies programmes

Enrol part time or full time in the Postgraduate Diploma or Masters.

Postgraduate Diploma

Three required courses (HDS500, HDS501 & HSA501) and three 500-level elective courses.


Three options

  • Masters by thesis
  • Masters by dissertation & coursework
  • Masters by coursework


Learners can select additional courses from other faculties to complete their Postgraduate Diploma or Masters.

About Development Studies

Development Studies is a multidisciplinary branch of social science, taught in universities around the world. It addresses issues of concern to developing countries, including:

  • Civil and political (e.g. good governance)
  • Social (e.g. gender equality)
  • Cultural (e.g. indigenous rights)
  • Economic (e.g. poverty reduction)
  • Environmental (e.g. sustainability)

As a developing country, Samoa faces many challenges in common with other Pacific Island countries and small island states.

Job opportunities

A postgraduate qualification in development studies will enhance learners in their professional careers in government, civil society, development, and private sector organisations, offering them postgraduate courses that contextualise development theory and practice.

A qualification in development studies can prepare you for employment in local, national and international organisations.

Whether you are just starting out your career, a mid-level professional or a local consultant wishing to enhance your knowledge on development in Samoa, its impacts and implications for our shared future, this programme is for you.

Knowledge and skills offered

The postgraduate Development Studies programme provides learners with in-depth knowledge on development theory and practice as well as specialised courses in topics such as education, public policy, economics, environment, information technology, public health, human rights, anthropology, human geography, and sociology, as they relate to development issues in Samoa.

  • Development theories, issues and practice in the context of the thesis and/or chosen coursework, which graduates will be able to competently apply to specific development and sectorial issues in Samoa
  • Development frameworks for the design and evaluation of different projects and programmes
  • The development industry and its real-world applications in areas like poverty reduction, project design, structure of international organisations and public policy.
  • Advanced research for the collection and analysis of development-related information and data
  • Project and programme design and evaluation techniques and their application in the development context.

To learn more about our Development Studies programme see our brochure.

Student Comments:

Bob Ale

Bob Ale - First Development Studies Graduate

"Since participating in the programme, I have gained more knowledge and insights into the socio-economic, cultural and political factors that shape development thinking and practice - both at the local and global level. Personally, the most interesting part is the wide range of case studies and development essues from various geographical spaces and social realities, covered in the programme. As well as the diversity amongst participants - from private sector, NGOs, Multilateral Agencies, and others which created an interactive environment for the interchange of thought and learning.
I highly recommend this programme to anyone interested in gaining more knowledge about development issues facing Samoa, especially now, tha our affairs are no longer isolated from the world."




Audrey Brown-Pereira (third from the left) – pending graduation in 2015

"Twenty years after I started my studies at Auckland University, I have just completed my postgraduate diploma in Development Studies. Leasiolagi is Professor of Samoan Studies and the Director for the Centre of Samoan Studies and with Associate Professor Penelope Schoeffel, academic, anthropologist, and international consultant – together they have brought the Development Studies Programme at NUS – to students like me.  There is nothing like rediscovering things about where you live and applying knowledge which you have learnt over the years, through work and life experience to your tertiary studies. Being able to learn more about Samoa from a different perspective especially on gender, has been enlightening and thought provoking, and one I will continue into the masters programme.   I remember reading an article called ‘Rank, Gender and Politics in Ancient Samoa’ and immediately upon reading and rereading, reimagining the work of writers and poets Sia Figiel and Tusiata Avia."



Kilisitina Best

Kilisitina Best

I heard about the Development Studies Programme through a good friend of mine who had already completed one semester of the course at NUS. As a mother who had chosen to stay at home to raise my young children, I was keen to keep learning, to keep updating my skills and knowledge in health development in preparation for the time when I would eventually go back to work. I was intrigued by the material my friend was studying as well as well as the high quality of the teaching, so I decided to enroll for a Postgraduate Diploma.

As it had been over 13 years since I had last stepped foot inside a lecture theatre, sat an exam, or written an essay, I decided to ease into it slowly with two subjects as a part-time student. Since then I have not looked back. As a postgraduate course, it is tailored to mature students, in particular those who are in full time employment, and trying to balance family and other commitments. Dr Penelope Schoeffel and Dr. Malama Meleisea understand this, and aim to deliver a programme that is comprehensive and achievable, while still maintaining an international standard. Development Studies is designed to be locally relevant, and useful to the current occupations of the students.
The Development Studies programme has taught me practical skills that have helped me in my voluntary work with a health NGO, as well as in obtaining part-time consultancy work. It combines history and sociology, together with current practices of aid development, to provide a complete overview of how a country develops, particularly in the Pacific region.
In 2015 I will be pursuing the Masters in Development Studies course. I am confident that when I do complete my studies, I will have a reputable postgraduate degree behind me that will provide me with better opportunities. Learning is a privilege and I am grateful that right here in Samoa I can access quality education.