Anyone interested in obtaining advanced academic training and doing research with a view to working in jobs related to international and national development in the public sector, the private sector, or the non-profit sector. Out-going students can find employment in teaching and research posts, managerial and executive positions in international and national organisations, consultancy, training, research projects, journalism, planning, development projects, public policy planning and evaluation, and social projects and social policies.

This programme is lectured in English, but offers tutorial in both Portuguese and English. The PhD thesis may be written in Portuguese or in English.

Entry conditions and selection criteria

Anyone holding a masters degree in the areas of economics, management, law, sociology, geography, agronomy and forestry, political science, international relations, history, anthropology, or any other area deemed appropriate can apply. Students who obtained a GPA of 16 or more (out of 20) or, in special circumstances, students whose GPA is lower than 16 but have demonstrated appropriate academic training or professional experience may also apply. The Scientific Board of the PhD programme will choose candidates on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Masters degree (final grade)
  • First degree (undergraduate) (GPA)
  • Academic and relevant professional experience
  • Research proposal
  • Motivation letter
  • Information on two persons for recommendation letters

Non-native English speakers must hold a proficiency certificate of a level equivalent to B1 or higher according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

For the purposes of the proficiency certification, placement test results from an authorized language school equivalent to or greater than B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages are also accepted.

Personal interviews may be required.

What kind of themes can I study in the Program?

Research themes for the doctoral thesis and course units are grounded in a broad range of issues related to the development of contemporary societies and its methodological variables and analytical tools. The emphasis is on agriculture and contemporary agrarian transformation; poverty, inequality and equity issues; development economics and aid finance; development cooperation, policy and political issues; geography and urbanization;  migration and gender; security-development nexus; sustainable consumption, food production and ecosystem services; and modernity theoretical challenges to development. These themes are explored in our PhD programme through course units related to the development of contemporary societies, including: theories of development and modernity, the policy and politics of development, sustainability transitions and a focus on urban development. As a Development Studies programme, interdisciplinary links are established between economics, sociology, geography, social and economic history, political science and law, thus providing an integrated perspective on development and sustainability issues in contemporary societies. A great attention is paid to the improvement of students´ skills on research methods and techniques required for development studies. One of the programme orientations focuses on development issues in Portuguese speaking contexts (Portugal, Brazil, East Timor, Portuguese-speaking African countries), given that research in these geographical areas offers a comparative advantage for participation in international research networks.

How the Program is structured?

The PhD Development Studies is a three-year programme in which students must obtain a total of 180 ECTS (credits). It comprises:

  • Courses (60 credits ECTS);
  • Preparation, submission and defense of thesis (120 ECTS).

Courses are taught in the first year of the Program over 2 semesters. They are:

1st semester

  • Theories of Modernity and Development (9.0 credits ECTS)
  • Development Policy and Politics (7.5 credits ECTS)
  • Research Methods in Development Studies (6.0 credits ECTS)
  • Research Seminar I (3.0 credits ECTS)
  • Research Essay (4.5 credits ECTS)

2nd semester

  • Development in Transition (0 credits ECTS)*
  • Topics in Development Studies (0 credits ECTS)*
  • Elective Modules of Research Methods (6.0 credits ECTS)
  • Research Seminar II (3.0 credits ECTS)
  • Elective Unit (6.0 credits ECTS)

The classes will run at ISEG (that coordinates the Program) and at the other Schools (ICS, IGOT and ISA) according to the scheduled activities to be announced.

How to prepare a doctoral thesis?

Applicants should present a research proposal, outlining their chosen theme, which will be evaluated by the coordinating scientific committee. Upon acceptance into the programme, the student will be assigned a tutor, under whose supervision the student will design a detailed research project towards the thesis during the first year. The research proposals will form the basis for discussion in the Research Seminar classes.

At the end of the first year of the Program, a specially appointed committee nominated by the Program Coordination team will assess the students’ research projects, who may approve the project, to suggest changes or to recommend that the student discontinue the programme.

Upon approval of the research project and confirmed who will be the supervising professor, the thesis proposal will be registered at the appointed supervisor’s School. The student then has two academic years in which to research and write the thesis.

Where to prepare the PhD thesis?

There are Research Centres at all Schools where the students are expected to initiate their research activities. After the research proposal having been approved, the students will be registered as PhD students at the supervisor’s Research Centre.



1st year 3000 €

2nd year 2000 €

3rd year 2000 €

4th year and after 1000 €/year

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