International Development Studies


We are pleased to announce a few changes in our offerings of INTD397 and INTD497 effective academic year 2019-20:

  1. In addition to three 300 level courses offered this year (INTD350 Culture and Development, INTD397 Special Topics-Disasters and Development, INTD397 Special Topics - Civil Society and Development), IDS will be offering a minimum of two new INTD 397-level topics courses tentatively titled:
    1. INTD 397 Special Topics “Quantitative Methods for Development”
    2. INTD 397 Special Topics “Geography, Environment and Development”
  2. INTD 497 will be divided between Honors and Majors courses.
    1. For honours students, there will be three INTD497 sections with a maximum of 25 students.
    2. For the majors, there will be four INTD497 sections with a range from 40 to 65 students. Sections with 65 students are expected to have a Teaching Assistant.


Since Fall 2016, the IDS Program Committee, along with an IDS Curricular Sub-Committee, has been working to renew the IDS curriculum. These changes will provide students with more offerings across the IDS curriculum with the intention of strengthening the structure, coherence, rigor, and identity of the IDS program. Students will now have significantly more courses that are INTD-designated, and will therefore also have more interaction with IDS faculty. The changes being brought in now respond to issues brought to our attention during these two years of deliberations and to respond to some immediate needs, by allowing for more 300 level courses and to relax enrolment constraints in the INTD497 sections.


In order to facilitate these changes, IDS Program Advisors Lisa Stanischewski and Kirsty McKinnon ISID Director Sonia Laszlo, and ISID Associate Director and Undergraduate Program Director, Erik Kuhonta, are working to ensure that the process for streamlining the INTD497s goes as smoothly as possible. Students will have support from this advising team ahead of and during the registration period. We will redouble efforts to ensure you have access to advising services at ISID as we implement these immediate changes. For any questions regarding these changes, please email lisa.stanischewski [at] 

The IDS program is designed for those students who wish to take advantage of the resources available at McGill to pursue an interdisciplinary program of study focusing on the problems of the developing countries. IDS is the third largest program in the Faculty of Arts, with an enrollment of over 1300 students. Each year about 150 new students enroll in one of the undergraduate (Minor, Major, Honours) programs.

Students are advised to:

  • Review the following course-related pages very carefully and thoroughly.
  • Review the FAQ and the Program Advising pages for pertinent information prior to making an advising appointment. Many general inquires can be found on the FAQ page.

All major and honours students in International Development Studies must choose between one of the following streams:

Stream 1: Economic Development and Living Standards

Experience has shown that development requires economic growth and is shaped by the distribution of economic resources. At the same time, the globalized economy has created new opportunities and new challenges for sustained growth. Courses in this stream revolve around the factors contributing to sustained economic growth, the trade-offs associated with different ways of achieving it, and the distributional issues development inevitably raises. More generally, this stream is also concerned with understanding what "development" actually entails in different contexts.

Stream 2: States and Governance

The courses in this stream focus on how political institutions shape developmental processes. Some courses analyze states and recognize how some promote development by providing diverse developmental goods while others impede development by preying on their peoples. Other courses focus on regimes and consider how political rights and participation, or their absences, affect developmental processes. Finally, several courses consider factors that make possible effective states and regimes.

Stream 3: Culture and Society

The courses in this stream focus on how the social structures, history, and culture of populations affect developmental processes. Associations, class, gender, religion, race, and ethnicity, for example, all shape development in multiple and diverse ways. Moreover, present developmental processes oftentimes cannot be adequately understood without considering history. Culture, in turn, is increasingly recognized within development studies as both a determinant and a constitutive element of development. In exploring all three, the courses in this stream provide important insight into the complex and varied relationship between social context and development.

Stream 4: Environment and Agricultural Resources

Within development studies, the environment has long been recognized as a vital determinant of development. More recently, many scholars have changed their environmental focus to emphasize sustainability. The courses in this stream recognize both: some courses consider how the environment can be exploited to promote human well-being while others consider how the environment must be respected to render development sustainable. Together, they highlight the delicate balance that must be attained between humans and their environments to make possible sustainable livelihoods.