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Welcome to Development Studies & Population Studies

Development Studies and Population Studies aim to be world leaders in the study of the political economy of development and demography, and in the pursuit through research, training and activism of social and economic justice, both locally and globally.

What is Development Studies?

Development Studies addresses key economic, political and social concerns - inequality and poverty, uneven or inadequate economic growth, maldistribution of resources and institutional failures. Development Studies critically examines the role and efficacy of state policies, and interventions by other social actors, in addressing these problems. The field of Development Studies focuses especially, but not exclusively on these concerns, as they apply to developing countries.

What is Population Studies?

 Population Studies is a broad social science discipline concerned with the study of human populations in relation to their size, composition and geographical distribution, the changes which occur in these over time and the factors associated with these changes. The discipline emphasises the empirical investigation of population processes, including the conceptualisation and measurement of these processes and the study of their determinants and consequences. Population studies is also concerned with the broader nature of social and economic change, and with the impact of demographic change on the natural environment. The concepts of population studies have an important role to play in understanding of social change. Population Studies is an essential component of many activities, social and market research, physical and environmental use planning, administration, and in particular people-centred development planning.

Degrees offered

Specialising in critical, interdisciplinary analysis of development theory, policy and practice, we offer several post-graduate degrees - by coursework and research - with the rigour, flexibility and currency matching any comparable  programme.  Programmes offered are a course-work or dissertation Masters degree in Development Studies or Population Studies. In addition, the School  has a thesis-based PhD programme. For an on the ground glimpse at what it is like to study in our programmes, see our YouTube clip.

With expertise in political economy, political ecology, population studies, social policy and civil society, Population Studies and Development Studies staff are positioned to critically engage in  debates and strategy over development theory and practice, as well to provide critique and alternatives to current orthodoxies. Our orientation to engaging state agencies, NGOs, labour and social movements, business and international  institutions makes us one of the world's strongest educational sites  for development studies, with unprecedented opportunities for the  professional and advocacy training required to engage the world's major problems.


A leading centre for research and teaching on development in South Africa, it  historically holds an international reputation for the quality of its work and the intellectual rigour with which it applies academic skills to policy challenges.

For further information about our research, see research themes and Centre for Civil Society



Our antecendents date to the Institute for Social Research established in 1954. In 2004 we celebrated our 50th anniversary by hosting a major international conference on South African development challenges.

As part of a larger re-organization of academic schools in 2012, the then ‘School of Development Studies’ was incorporated into the School of Built Environment and Development Studies together with the schools of Community Development, Architecture Planning and Housing.

A large percentage of the reports produced here, including  the most recent publications series (Research reports and Working Papers)  is available online at British Library of Development Studies Digital Library These can be downloaded at no charge under  a Creative Commons License.

Top Stories

  • Academic shares personal account of hyperapartheid Academic shares personal account of hyperapartheid

    Dr Mvuselelo Ngcoya of UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) shared his personal account of hyperapartheid as part of a seminar series at the Durban University of Technology (DUT).

    June 09, 2016 / Melissa Mungroo
  • Durban Firm Survey Research results discussed Durban Firm Survey Research results discussed

    UKZN academics Dr Myriam Velia and Mr Glen Robbins recently reported the research results from their study on manufacturing firms in greater Durban to local business leaders and those who participated in the survey.

    June 02, 2016 / Melissa Mungroo
  • Study on relationship between co-operatives and privately owned businesses in uMgungundlovu Study on relationship between co-operatives and privately owned businesses in uMgungundlovu

    A UKZN researcher recently presented his work investigating the networking activities or the lack of them between co-operatives and privately owned businesses in the uMgungundlovu District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.

    April 28, 2016 / Melissa Mungroo

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