Joe Courtney

If you are considering a career in International Development, Westminster’s International Development Management MSc (previously MA) is a fantastic opportunity to develop the fundamental skills and knowledge needed for the industry. Classes are typically diverse with students from across the globe, and the Course Leader, Dr Ola Sholarin, has developed ties with various organisations from the World Bank to UNDP. This interview with recent graduate Joe Courtney, gives a student perspective of the degree, helping you to put together a good picture of what to expect!

Introducing Joe…

Hi! I’m Joe, an International Development Management MA student from the UK. I was born up north but primarily raised in Winchester. I’m 25 and moved to London to study my Master’s. I love sports, music and cooking!

Why did you choose to study the International Development Management MA?

It was really by chance that I found the subject and my plan had actually been to study economics. I had studied economics at undergraduate level and when I came to the Open Evening it was just luck that I ran into an IDM alumni. He asked if I was interested in Development and suggested I speak with the Course Leader, Dr Ola Sholarin. After a ten minute conversation with Ola, I’d made my choice and International Development Management it was. He explained to me that you could pick an option module from across the Business School portfolio (in any available subject matter). I thought this was great as it meant that I could carry on with econometrics; I also really liked the variety of the other modules.


What have been your highlights?

Passing all the exams was pretty good and averaging 70 in the first semester was really great because i was worried at the start of the year that it would be really tough. I think I worked hard and it paid off, which I’m really pleased about.

The best thing about the course is that you’re in a tight knit group of less than 20 people – you’re all doing the same modules pretty much, so you really get to know each other. Also the fact that our class is so diverse, with people from across the globe and from different backgrounds, this is a really heathy way to learn. It’s so great to see everyone in the class so interested and committed to Development, and our trip to the United Nations really brought us together as friends which has been great.

What would you say to anyone thinking about joining the course?

The first thing I would say is that you don’t really have to have done Development in any form before-hand, so if that’s something you’re worried about, don’t! I think what’s great about this course is that you learn in such a small group (there are about 18/19 of us) and your classmates are from all over the world with a wealth of different experience – whether they are from Uganda and have studied education as their degree or they’re from the Philippines and they studied health. With regards to living in London – you can’t beat it. I love it. if you love food and easy travel then this is the place to be.

And the biggest challenges?

The dissertation is tough, there’s no question about that. Id say it is a big step up from undergraduate as well but if you put the work in it’s more rewarding because you’re doing something that you’re really interested in rather than just for the sake of it.


You’ve mentioned your trip to the United Nations, can you tell us a little bit more?

The whole trip was a really valuable experience. I found the discussion with the World Meteorological Organisation the most interesting lecture. It was great to see climate change placed within the context of development. I also got quite involved with asking questions and discussing how they are working with the agricultural sector.

Where would you like to be in five years time?

I’m not 100% sure. I’d like to be working in London for a Development Think Tank or work in research. I’ve really upped my game in econometrics so I’d also be interested in working in this branch of economics. I’m also thinking about doing a PhD but this won’t be for a good few years. I’d love to gain some experience working abroad in Africa or Latin America as I’m particularly interested in these regions.

If you could describe your experience in one word, what would it be?

I would have to say it has been diverse.

Many thanks to Joe for this interview. If you would like to read more about the course, why not take a look at the other blogs in the series or visit the course page

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