Chair of Development Economics
Master Development Studies

Master Development Studies

Students of the Development Studies programme

This webpage for prospective students of this programme is from the first batch of Development Studies students. It is intended to provide an insider's view behind the formal facts and key data indicated on the official programme profile page to give you an idea of what this programme is all about.

Mastering Development

The University's new master's programme in Development Studies deals with the economic and social development of countries from an interdisciplinary perspective. Questions like: 'What should the right development measures look like?' or 'Which policies should we focus on?' are discussed and analysed in-depth. It is not about the classical form of development aid, it's about the economic integration of developing countries to enable them to catch up with the richer countries.

World Map

In October 2015 the first batch of students started on this master's programme: 22 students from 13 different countries all over the world had been selected out of nearly 300 applicants. 

This year the second batch of students enrolled in the programme. Another 30 students from 14 additional countries started in October (indicated in the world map above).

Students of the master's programme

Alessandro Gullo
Alessandro Gullo

‘During my Bachelor in European Studies I started to engage in development strategies of the European Union. This grabbed my interest and made me curios to look beyond Europe and understand the differences in terms of development in other regions of the world and their causes. Therefore I decided to study Development Studies at Passau University to engage in these multifaceted issues. What particularly motivated me to go to Passau was the interdisciplinary design of the program. The wide range of courses enables you to specialize in a field of your own interest, may it be Economics, South East Asia or Sustainability. This is supported by our motivated professors who are engaging in the named different fields of science. Additionally, our small but international group of students invites for interesting discussions and learning about different countries and cultures on firsthand information. The small group further allows you close contact and exchange with the professors. For me, this master program is the base to widen my experience abroad and engage in development work with a NGO or a multilateral organization.‘

Nadjia Mehrhaban
Nadjia Mehrhaban

'I always wanted to understand why we observe these huge developmental differences around the world. Probably because I have experienced both extremes with Afghanistan and Germany. During my Bachelor studies in Passau I gained first insights into Development Economics and wanted to know more. It’s a great learning environment. We are such a diverse group from several parts of the world and different disciplines having the same values somehow. Also we have three main profs who really care about us, ask for feedback and make an effort to adjust things to our needs and interests. Later on I would love to gain more experience abroad, maybe work for an international organisation somewhere in South East Asia. I could also think of going for a PhD.'

David Castro
David Castro

'At some point during my Bachelor’s program in Social Communication/Journalism in Colombia, I decided to focus my study load on communications for development because I felt drawn to the use of communications as a tool to expand ideas and spread welfare, instead of selling products and services. This decision was a turning point in my career and the main reason I chose to pursue a Master’s degree in Development Studies. With this Master’s program I hope to understand some of the complexities of the modern world and find out the best way to apply my knowledge in order to contribute and make a positive difference to society. After this Master’s program I would like to lead the communications department of a NGO or a multilateral agency; a step further would be to run my own socially driven company that produces documentary films in order to draw attention to the most important development issues.'

Research Seminar in the Bavarian Forest

‘From January 12 to 14, 2017, we stayed three days in Neuschönau (Bavarian Forest) together with our professors. The trip was part of our Research Seminar and dedicated to further develop the research proposals for our Master thesis. Accommodated in a cozy youth hostel on the countryside, we spent a fun and productive weekend together. Based on presentations of the current state of our proposals and helpful comments from our colleagues and professors, we elaborated our proposals in student working groups and in direct dialogue with our supervisors. Apart from productive working sessions, we enjoyed our common leisure time with various activities. The undisputed highlight was a two hours snow hiking tour through a breathtaking winter landscape. As a reward for our athletic performance, we treated ourselves with local specialties in a traditional Bavarian tavern. We students really appreciated the weekend as we take home not only more elaborated research proposals but also lots of great memories.’ (Nicolas Büttner, student of the first year of M.A. Development Studies)

Research Seminar in Bavarian Forest 2017
Last minutes in the youth hostel
Research Seminar in Bavarian Forest 2017
Snow hiking fun


In addition to various methodological courses and an introduction to Methods and Theories of Development Research, the first semester also included a Master's seminar on Urbanisation. In this seminar we had to produce, in groups of 2 or 3, a video statement on a particular problem. The video clip below is an example of our coursework.

DAAD scholarship opportunities

Alexandra Mayugba
Alexandra Mayugba

It was through DAAD, or the German Academic Exchange Service, search engine that I first discovered the M.A. in Development Studies program at the University of Passau. I, along with a few of my colleagues, were so fortunate to have been granted scholarships through DAAD, which have been a huge financial help in funding our stay and our studies in Germany. For more information on DAAD and their scholarship opportunities, you can visit their website here:

Professors of the master's programme

'This programme addresses the worldwide need for experts in the expanding field of development research as well as for project managers in international development cooperation and multinational firms. Students enrolled in the programme gain insights into the economic, social, ethical, and cultural contexts and constraints of development. The programme provides outstanding opportunities for putting theory into practice through international field research, with a strong focus on integrating quantitative and qualitative methods required to understand and navigate the complexities of economic and social development.' (Professor Grimm, Chair of Development Economics)

'Teaching in development studies allows me to connect my current research interest in transdisciplinary approaches to sustainability issues. I believe that only thinking out of disciplinary boxes will enable us to tackle social, economic and ecological inequalities. For this end we offer empirical involvement equipped with critical thinking and sound methods at the MA:DS!' (Professor Martina Padmanabhan, Chair of Comparative Development and Cultural Studies – Southeast Asia)

Professor Grimm (Chair of Development Economics), Professor Padmanabhan (Chair of Comparative Development and Cultural Studies with a focus on Southeast Asia) and Professor Korff (Southeast Asian Studies)
Professor Grimm, Professor Padmanabhan and Professor Korff (left to right) teach the M.A. Development Studies programme together with other Professors from the University of Passau

Development Studies Short Film Night

Each summer semester the students and professors organise a Short Film Night to present the short films produced by the students as part of the Interdisciplinary Seminar during the first semester of the Master program. The short films are produced in group work and deal with current hot topics of Development Studies such as poverty, inequality, sustainability and many more. Therefore, the students are given a statement by the professors which they have to critically discuss throughout their videos. The Short Film Night is an event to show these videos in front of an open audience at the University of Passau. In the end, the audience itself decides which video deserves to win based on content, creativity and line of argumentation. The time between the videos serves as a good opportunity for all audience members to engage with the students, professors and  staff members of the Master program to gain insights into the depth of Development Studies to possibly find the program suitable for their own future. 

The hosts and winners of the Short Film Night 2018. From left to right: Diego Chavez Ruesga (host), María Camila Llinás (host and "The Journey"), Ronja Platz ("The Journey"), Robin Brehm ("The Journey"), Juan Sebastian Chavarro ("Faceless City"), Ela Fritz ("Faceless City"), Yevgeniya Yatsenko ("Faceless City"), Manuel Kuhm ("Planet Poverty"), Akter Jahan ("Planet Poverty") and Paz Patiño ("Planet Poverty").


New Partner Universities in South Africa and France

New partnerships have been established with the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Arica and the Institute of Economic and Social Development Studies at University Paris I - Sorbonne. Students from the MA programs “International Economics and Business” as well as “Development Studies” have the possibility to study a term at these institutions.

Federal Minister Dr. Gerd Müller visits the University of Passau

The Federal Minister for Economic Development and Cooperation Dr. Gerd Müller visited the University of Passau on Tuesday, 30th of May 2016. He spoke about the issue of “One World – Our Responsibility. Fields of Action between University, Economy and Politics.” The event was introduced by the president of the University Prof. Dr. Carola Jungwirth. Afterwards an interesting panel discussion with inputs from Prof. Dr. Michael Grimm (Chair of Development Economics) and Prof. Dr. Padmanabhan (Chair of Comparative Development and Cultural Studies with a focus on Southeast Asia) as well as Prof. Dr. Ursula Reutner, the Vice President for International Relations. Also part of the panel discussion: as a representative of the economy Dr. Fritz Audebert, chairman of the ICUnet.AG, and as a representative of politics Georg Steiner, town councilor of Passau.

Future Cooperation with the ISS of the Erasmus University Rotterdam

The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of the Erasmus University in The Hague also offers an MA degree in Development Studies. The ISS has a long experience in this area already. A future cooperation with the ISS is in the making: it is planned to host a group of ISS students in Passau this summer. The thematic focus of this meeting will be the refugee crisis. This cooperation will offer a good forum to exchange with other Development Studies students.
More about ISS

In[ter]ventions Conference, University of Vienna

'Three students of the University of Passau attended the student conference In[ter]ventions at the University of Vienna, Austria. It took place for the first time from 11-13 March 2016 and was exclusively organised by students. The diverse programme consisted of presentations, workshops and discussions. Session topics ranged from “Global Feminism – Gender Relations in Uganda”, “Justice as Development in the Global South” to “Who is the other? Critical reflexions on conducting fieldwork in a coastal slum in Sierra Leone” – to name a few. The symposium brought together over 100 students from all over Europe and was a great success. The current batch of students is currently exploring the possibility to host this conference in Passau in 2017.' (Jonathan Bonnemann, student of M.A. Development Studies at the University of Passau)