Master of International Relations and Development

Hong Kong Institute of Education
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Master's programs

Master of International Relations and Development* (2019 September Entry)


Leading the way forward

The Master of International Relations and Development (MIRD)* Programme provides students with advanced training in international relations and development from a comparative pan-Asian perspective and with a particular focus on the Greater China region. Designed to provide students with core theoretical, conceptual and analytical tools necessary to understand contemporary Asia, the Programme focuses on the competitive dynamics impacting the regions international relations and economic development. The Programme emphasizes experiential learning with opportunities for students to engage in field visits in developing countries and to explore various issues related to development and economic transition.  The Programme is designed for students intending future careers in government, think tanks, consulting firms, the not-for-profit sector and private sector organisations.

*subject to approval


* Programme Curriculum: Any aspect of the course (including, without limitation, the content of the Course and the manner in which the Course is taught) may be subject to change at any time at the sole discretion of the University. Without limiting the right of the University to amend the course, it is envisaged that changes may be required due to factors such as staffing, enrolment levels, logistical arrangements and curriculum changes.


This course reviews the literature, tools, and strategies that inform qualitative, quantitative, and blended methods of research in social sciences. It engages students in the analysis and critique of published research from a variety of scholarly sources, with the expectation that students develop the ability to apply critical and interdisciplinary thinking in social sciences to the methodological investigation of issues of concern to their individual specializations. With this foundation, students will develop the skill of devising appropriate methods for answering scientific research questions within their areas of interest. The philosophy and ethics of research will be discussed as well.In the contemporary era, late developing countries face a series of systemic forces that impact their ability to plan, implement and manage national level development agendas. Historically, for example, national economic strategies have focused on what is called dirigiste national development policy, which relied on creating national level protectionism for domestic enterprise or a series of proactive state strategies designed to advantage domestic industry relative to international counterparts (tariffs, import restrictions, national licensing, quotas, state-directed / soft credit regimes, etc.). Increasingly, however, systemic transformations in the global economy increasingly impact the ability of late developing economies to engage in dirigiste policy options. These global systemic transformations fall into four broad categories: (I.) the globalization of governance regimes and liberalization (multilateralism) which imped national level policy discretion; (II.) the globalization of competitive domestic enterprises and their ‘national decoupling’ from late developing country contexts; (III.) the globalization of value and production chains which render the development of domestic industrial ‘champions’ problematic; and (IV.) the global agglomeration of production and increasing market entry barriers for newcomers — especially into high value added production, which make replication of the historically successful policy tools of the ‘Asian miracle economies’ (Japan, Taiwan, Korea) increasingly difficult. The focus of this course is on understanding the interface between national level economic development agendas and the constraints imposed by structural transformations in the global political economy; how governments are responding to these and the policy choices and mechanisms available to late developing countries. The course relies on a series of case examples drawn from Asia focusing on substantive industrial sectors such as textiles and footwear (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Bangladesh); automotive parts manufacturing and assembly (Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam); services (Philippines), financial services (Malaysia), among others.This course aims to equip students with the theoretical framework to examine the international politics in Asia amidst the rise of China. With China’s growing economic strength and political influence, neighbouring states as well as countries in other regions have to redefine their strategies to deal with their common interests as well as conflicts with their neighbours. The course will focus on the following questions: 1) How mainstream theoretical perspective explains the international politics in Asia? 2) How the rise of China reshapes the relationship among Asian countries? 3) What are the institutional frameworks that facilitate regional cooperation and resolve potential conflicts in East Asia? 4) What are the issues and challenges confronts by Asian countries on their way to achieve greater regional integration? The course will first provide the mainstream theoretical perspectives on international relations. It will follow by discussions on various thematic issues and challenges in the regional politics in Asia.This course serves as a foundation course to equip students with key theoretic and analytical abilities essential for understanding the complex world of public policy and governance. Public policy and governance studies are multidisciplinary in nature. This course will draw from major theories and techniques in political science, public administration, sociology, and economics and synthesize into a coherent set of knowledge that students without undergraduate background in related fields can comprehend. Related to this, a salient feature of this course is the extensive use of cases, particularly from Asia. The first half of this course is a systematic survey on concepts, theories and analytic techniques in public policy and governance. In the second half of the course, the focus will be pinned on Asia, especially the Greater China region where most students live and work. This part of the course will lead students to understand and analyze policy and governance issues in the region with theories and methods that will have learned in the first half of the course. Students will experience a variety of pedagogies in this course, including lecture, seminar, movie-screening and discussion, and field visit.

Elective Courses

This course aims to introduce students to the major developments and challenges of the political economy of Greater China from a historical perspective. The political and economic developments followed very different historical trajectories. For example, the economies of Hong Kong and Taiwan took off during 1980s along with other Tiger economies in East Asian, and Mainland China began to catch up with phenomenal growth during the past three decades and is becoming the centre of gravity in the regional economic order. Governments assume different roles in the economic development in these regions, and the situation is complicated by their different pace of political liberalization. The development experiences in different countries including the region also provide valuable insights for us to critically re-examine some of the existing perspectives on political economy. These experiences will have significant implications on the regional and global economy.In this course, we will focus on the following questions: 1) What are the different assumption on the roles of government in the economic developments? 2) Could these different approaches be reconciled with closer economic integration? 3) How the development experiences in different Asian countries contribute to our understanding of political economy more broadly? To address these questions, the course will first introduce the basic conceptual understandings of the role of government and market in modern political economy. The course will then discuss the various development experiences and the problems encountered in different countries/regions in East Asia. The last part of the course will examine the theoretical and empirical implications of economic development and economic globalization.The international relations of the modern era are governed increasingly by rules (governance regimes) and typically mediated or overseen by a vast array of international, regional and multilateral institutions. By one estimate, for example, there are currently over 4,000 international rule regimes and several hundred international institutions that govern issue areas as diverse as international trade and commerce, security, investment, clearance and financial settlements, labour practices, maritime shipping, migration, food and agriculture, telecommunications, refugees, aviation, drugs and crime, tourism, health and education. In addition, in the post-war era there has been an explosion of standards regimes, all designed to enhance the trans-border efficiencies in the movement of goods and services by reducing ‘regulatory unevenness’ and non-transferability. These include standards regimes in accounting, reporting and transparency, weights and measurements, food safety, hazardous materials and waste management, pollution, fisheries and oceans, meteorology forecasting, risk management, transfer pricing, taxation, communications, and space junk ─ among many others. The courses introduces students to the history, evolution and practices of international institutions and international rule regimes, why and how they have emerged, the trajectories of their evolution, and their impact on states and state based policy making. Specifically, the course examines the embedded and structurally dominant nature of these regimes for international commerce, security, and finance, and the contested nature of these governance regimes in terms of the changing nature of the post-war international institutional architecture. This course provides an introduction to the role and importance of cities and urbanization process in regional, national and global development. The course provides a conceptual and empirical basis from which to understand urban problems from demographic, social, economic, cultural and political perspectives and critically engage current urban policy issues, debates and solutions. Topics to be covered include global city/city-region, knowledge-based urban economic, urban social-spatial change, transport, land use and housing policy, urban politics and governance.This course aims to compare and contrast major social development issues and challenges confronting most societies, and examine how state, market and civil society have interacted in response to the critical development issues. The course will be with particular reference to discuss how different economic development strategies adopted by Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan have affected social development of these societies. Students will be engaged in studying how civil society has emerged and developed in these societies, especially examining how and what major approaches/ measures that the governments have adopted to manage the growing complexity of social problems, the autonomization of society and the changing role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).This course will focus on public health policy primarily in the developing world. We will begin with foundation knowledge on health care, health market, health financing, provision, and public health, followed by an overview of public health challenges in developing socities. After understanding the central role of the state in promoting population health, this course will then discuss in depth a series of critical public health policy issues in the develoing world, such as communicable disease control, health financing, capacity building of the provision system, health of the floating population, etc. Students will experience a variety of pedagogies in this course, including lecture, seminar, movie-screening and discussion, instructor-guided group project, and field visit.Gender and development critically analyzes gender issues in the development context, examining the impact upon both men and women as a result of economic development and social transformation. The course begins with theoretical approaches to gender and development, development theory and feminist critiques. Followed by looking into topics such as gender inequalities in paid and unpaid work; feminist critiques of economics and of theoretical debates within the gender and development field on topics such as structural adjustment, feminization of the labor force, and poverty; women, health and reproductive rights; Women and education; Agriculture, Environment and gender; examination of efforts and proposals by governments, international policy-making institutions, and civil society organizations.This course aims to critically examine different groups’ and individuals’ experiences (such as urban poor/working poor, migrants, women, university students and elderly people) under rapid socio-economic and institutional changes and how these groups react to and interact with different institutions (such as governmental departments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions, and interest groups, etc). This course is also an intensive and experiential unit, which provides a platform for students to study beyond classroom. In collaboration with major universities outside Hong Kong. Special lectures and class discussions, professional visits and cultural tours will be organized for students in selected societies to engage them in field observations and field visits to enable them to develop a more critical understanding of development, policy and governance issues through their active participation and personal experience.This project requires students to complete their research theses based on their proposals developed in Semester One. The topics should be relevant to the major themes and issues related to the development studies of selected a country/ countries. Students are expected to seek advice on the selection of thesis topics with their respective supervisors and to get approvals from their supervisors before working on their theses

* Course Synopsis: Any aspect of the course (including, without limitation, the content of the Course and the manner in which the Course is taught) may be subject to change at any time at the sole discretion of the University. Without limiting the right of the University to amend the course, it is envisaged that changes may be required due to factors such as staffing, enrolment levels, logistical arrangements and curriculum changes.


Applicants applying to the Master of International Relations and Development should normally hold a recognized Bachelor's degree. For applicants whose qualification is obtained from an institution in a non-English speaking system should normally fulfill one of the following minimum English proficiency requirements:

  • IELTS 6.0; or
  • Grade C or above in GCSE / GCE OL English; or
  • Band 6 in the Chinese Mainland’s College English Test (CET) (a total score of no lower than 430 if the test was taken after June 2005); or
  • Other equivalent qualifications.


Interested applicants please submit your application via EdUHK Online Application Systems. Prior to your submission, please visit for detailed application and admission information.

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Posted on:


Master's programs


Hong Kong , Hong Kong SAR China