Communication for Development

Programme - second cycle - 60 credits


Admission requirements

1. Degree of Bachelor or equivalent.
2. The equivalent of English course B in Swedish secondary school.


Academic credits 20%, Letter of intent/Experience document 80% Note There are specific instructions regarding eligibility or selection on the next tab on this page, called Selection. Please, make sure that you read the instructions thoroughly!

There are specific instructions regarding eligibility or selection on the next tab on this page, called Selection. Please, make sure that you read the instructions thoroughly!

“The programme provided me with a more profound understanding of global development issues.” - Kerstin Gossé, former student.


Once you have completed your application with your academic credentials and English proficiency, you have the possibility to submit a supporting document for selection to the programme which can increase your chances of being admitted to the programme. 80% of the places for the programme are selected among applicants who submit a supporting document.

Deadline to submit the supporting document is October 31:st, 2016. Only submissions using the document form below are accepted.

To complete your application follow the steps below

  1. Create an account and apply to the programme via 
  2. Upload your documentation as a pdf on or send via post. You will need to show both a bachelor degree and English proficiency to be considered eligible for the programme. Applicants in their final year, who will receive their diploma before the programme starts can also apply but must follow specific instructions.
  3. If you choose to submit a supporting document to your application, you upload it online at The Supporting document consists of two parts: 
  • A brief description of the experiences of Communication for Development issues that prepare you for studies in the programme.
  • A Letter of Intent where you describe the purpose and your objectives behind applying to the programme.

Download the document to fill in here 

Save your document and upload it to your account on You can also send it via post. See for more information.


Communication for Development is an interdisciplinary field of study and practice, combining studies on culture, communication and development and integrating them with practical fieldwork. It explores the use of communication – both as a tool and as a way of articulating processes of social change – within the contexts of globalisation.

In this programme, where the form of study strives to be conducive to the course content, progression lies in the group dynamic process as well as in the coursework itself. The multidisciplinary nature of the subject means that the same content should provide in-depth knowledge for students with different backgrounds. One major point of this pedagogical approach is to bring together different experiences. The group diversity should allow students to deepen their knowledge of their own major as well as gain a sufficient overview based on the academic backgrounds and practical experiences of other students. This will allow them to be able to work both interdisciplinary and transcultural in their future professions.

This is Communication for Development

What is the relationship between development communication and the emerging, influential nexus of communication for social change, and where does social communication fit in?

Regardless of what one calls it, communication and media strategies have been utilised in development cooperation for well over sixty years. From an early emphasis on mass media in agricultural extension work, communication for development has grown to encompass a wide array of approaches and methodologies, and has gradually increased in stature to become a key driver of contemporary debates in development. Initially, communication interventions were largely oriented around the use of mass media, and existed within a principally modernising, top-down and technocratic paradigm. Among other complex forces at play, the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) debates in the 70s and 80s and the rise of critical and alternative approaches to development stretched the definition of the field. In addition to mass media, practitioners began to evaluate the need for richer interpersonal communication approaches that highlight the importance of power and culture in the success of development initiatives.

Dialogue, participation and the sharing of knowledge

Some of the most significant changes to global development cooperation have come about as a result of this critical field of study. As a discipline, Communication for Development embraces a broad range of functions and practices which centre around dialogue, participation and the sharing of knowledge and information, all with a view to creating empowerment and sustainable social change. Development communication is no longer an emerging discipline but one which has established itself as an integral part of development planning. Labelled part science, part craft and part art, its multidisciplinary nature draws on aspects of anthropology, sociology, psychology and the behavioural sciences, and its implementation depends on flexibility, creativity and an understanding of communication processes. An awareness of the role media and communication have to play in development cooperation and diversity management have transformed the way development is perceived, mapped and implemented, and the field has pioneered some of the most ground-breaking improvements in global development undertakings. As the recent surge in new communications technologies demonstrates, it is not the tools themselves that make good communication, but rather a rich and theoretically informed understanding of the political, social and cultural contexts in which media and communications interventions occur. 

Communication for Development as a Field of Study

Despite the fact that every year vast amounts of money are donated to developing countries, the chasm between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ continues to widen as billions of people around the world continue to live without running water, sanitation, adequate nutrition or access to basic education.

While the poor and the marginalised have always been at the centre of development, they have been the subjects rather than the objects of communication as traditional development practices overlooked a fundamental truism: that the poor, themselves, are often the best experts on their needs. Marginalised communities, historically denied access to communication tools and channels, have traditionally been passive bystanders to their so-called development as top-down, one-sided mass communication programmes delivered information without taking into account the very important specificities of context – the cultural norms and beliefs, knowledge and folklore of target populations, and how these impact the uptake of information and the potential for social change. Due to this lack of participation by target communities, most development programmes failed to achieve their goals, and a dramatic shift in paradigm was necessary to improve the efficacy and sustainability of development cooperation methods.

Social processes rooted in the communities

This shift towards participatory social processes, rooted in the customs and traditions of communities themselves, is the most fundamental premise of communication for development. Participatory processes aim to utilise cultural specificity as a tool rather than an obstacle, starting at ‘grass-roots’ level and developing methods that are grounded in, and take local and indigenous knowledge seriously. These processes comprise an interchange of knowledge and information, empowering individuals to make choices for themselves, and place communication at the forefront of the planning process while at the same time feedback and consultative processes ensure that communication is on-going and efficacy is maximised. Through the creation of ‘bottom-up’ processes, individuals become fundamental initiates in development schemes, a factor which is strongly linked to their long-term sustainability.

ComDev addresses the gap

As the divide between the ‘connected’, developed world and developing countries grows, so does the need for new, innovative methods for addressing global inequality increase, and Communication for Development is the field devoted to the study and implementation of these processes. The power of media and the potential of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to educate and to address global crises such as the spread of HIV have led to exciting and creative innovations in development cooperation, and this dynamic field continues to grow and develop. As globalisation and the development of ICTs change world markets and pose an increasing threat to developing countries and their more vulnerable communities, practitioners schooled in contemporary mass communication theories and concepts have become a vital part of development across the globe.

Why choose Malmö University?

Despite the wider acceptance of community-driven and participatory approaches to development by large multilateral and bilateral development agencies, the field continues to struggle for institutionalisation, and to be granted sufficient resources by managers and funding agencies.

Paradoxically, the role of media and communication in development cooperation has seen a strange turn after the first World Congress on Communication for Development, held in Rome in 2006 and organized by FAO, the World Bank and the Communication Initiative, in partnership with a broad strand of important organisations in the field. The summit in Rome managed to mobilize almost a thousand participants from research and practice, government and non-government. It was supposed to mark the definite break-through of the science and practice of ComDev. Instead, what happened had more the character of an implosion of the ComDev field, which only recently is gaining a new momentum. Today, we are however actually seeing a long series of new institutional initiatives, in the world of ComDev, both in practice and university curricular development. At university level, new MAs in ComDev have developed in places like Albania, South Africa, Kenya, Spain, Paraguay, the UK and Colombia. The field is finally becoming more significantly institutionalised in the world of academia, although it is still grappling with finding its identity between media and communication studies on one side, and cultural studies, political science and not least development studies on some of the other sides. The interdisciplinarity embedded in ComDev, combined with the outlined processes of globalisation, mediatisation and the proliferation of bottom-up agency are all contributing to put ComDev at a cross-roads. 

Internet-based distance-learning

Malmö University was the first to pioneer the use of an Internet-based distance-learning platform to make the education available to students globally. With its mix of online collaboration and discussion, paired with webcast seminars the entire programme can be conducted over the internet. This enables students from all corners of the globe to participate, work in their own time and attain the education. The use of the Live Lecture function in seminars makes students, equipped with microphones and webcams, able to participate in lectures and discussions online, resulting in a ‘virtual classroom’. This way, students in New Zealand and South Africa can communicate and work on projects with classmates in Fiji and India, sharing ideas and working together towards the common goal of improving development practices.

ComDev fosters teamwork

As a relatively new degree, students embarking on this specialised programme have the advantage of being schooled in the latest theories and philosophies, while being given the opportunity to apply these theories and concepts to real-life projects and problems in human development through individual assignments and group projects. Geared as it is towards individuals working in the fields of journalism, media and development, ComDev fosters teamwork and facilitates the exchange of knowledge and perspectives among participants.

Final project and field-work

The final project has always been an important element of the programme. Over the past 10 years, students of ComDev have had the opportunity to apply what they have learned theoretically to a broad range of contexts and scenarios in the process of completing their projects, and field-work has been conducted in India, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Croatia and Sarajevo, to name but a few. During their project work, students have the opportunity to explore a particular research area or topic of concern at a deeper level, and the accompanying written dissertation provides a fantastic opportunity to consolidate and further the knowledge and skills gained during the education. This project work also demonstrates a solid foundation in research, which will aid those students who wish to continue into doctoral level studies. In choosing the topic for their projects, students are free to ‘think outside the box’, and employ innovativeness and creativity to their field-work endeavours, and project works have included documentaries, short films, photo essays, and a wide array of dissertations presented in interesting and original ways. Students are also encouraged to join forces and collaborate on projects, as teamwork is regarded as a vital part of effective development cooperation. For a list of all the Project Works to date, see the ComDev portal, under ‘History’.

Career opportunities

The global demand for media and communication skills continues to increase as organisations such as UNICEF have made it a policy to hire ComDev practitioners, not only for international development schemes, but for diversity management and other forms of transcultural cooperation.

The UN Inter-Agency Round Table of Communication for Development has played a big role in institutionalising the field by bringing together UN agencies and international partners to discuss and debate the broad, challenging and essential role of Development Communication has to play in worldwide development cooperation. The 12th United Nations Inter-Agency Roundtable on Communication for Development had as its theme “Advancing the Rights of Adolescent Girls through Communication for Development”. For example, UNICEF has recently revisited their C4D strategy and work, calling for a stronger linkage with the universities and building widespread capacity within their own global organisation. UNESCO equally recognises the importance of communication, and has included it as part of its mandate and vision, integrating communication in its policies, budget and hiring policy, reflecting the growing need for skilled communication professionals.

Former ComDev students end up working in a truly diverse variety of settings. Some of the UN agencies placing hiring ads seek ‘communication for development’ practitioners by name. More commonly, though, practitioners are working in positions such as information or communications officer, where their roles may include a variety of tasks, not all of which would be strictly considered ComDev. Some practitioners are able to make a living as consultants working on projects with NGOs and CSOs, bilateral aid programs (such as Sida or DFID), or with the UN and World Bank. Since skills, knowledge and aptitudes gained through an education in ComDev are relevant to a variety of job functions within the development sector, you may also find alumni working in a range of allied positions, such as conflict resolution positions or as a learning and outcomes coordinator, to name but a few.


Kerstin found a more profound understanding of global development

Kerstin Gossé from Sweden was educated as a journalist, and worked as a news reporter for press and television before joining the Communication for Development Programme at Malmö University as assistant lecturer. Her experience with ComDev equipped her very well for her next position as a communications specialist at the United Nations Development Programme in Burkina Faso. Kerstin presently works with strategic communication for the City of Malmö in Sweden.

– ComDev was the perfect way to combine my skills in journalism and communication with international and development issues. The programme provided me with a more profound understanding of global development issues from social and cultural perspectives and gave me a more hands-on knowledge of how communication can be used as a tool to empower people to take responsibility for their own future and development.

– The web-based learning platform was a great tool for collaboration, networking and exchange with fellow students all over the world, which was professionally enriching and personally very inspiring. The many social challenges placed under my department prove at Malmö Stad proves that communication for development and social change is just as relevant in the industrial world as the one we still call the developing one. Lots of things need to be improved, and communication plays a key role in the efforts to improve the lives of people living in the margins of the modern, multicultural welfare state of Sweden.

Jason recieved a grant to investigate the struggles of social inclusion

Jason Hallman of the USA worked with public arts management in California and in the education department of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum before being hired as a commissioning editor for an independent scholarly publishing company in the U.S. He’s been living in Johannesburg, South Africa, since 2009 where he consults with local and international NGOs on community media, knowledge management and participatory processes.

– In addition to allowing me to become conversant with sophisticated contemporary debates about the future of development, I also really appreciate my fieldwork experience.

– For my final project I received a generous grant from the City of Malmö, which enabled me to work with participatory media and storytelling as means to better understand that struggles of social inclusion among marginalised youth in Sweden. I am continuing to explore how my ComDev education will inform my ‘real world’ practice, but in my brief time in South Africa I have been able to see the direct benefits of both my coursework and my final project. Even though the programme was not entirely practical in nature, its emphasis on important debates around the theorisation of culture, discourse, and development itself has given me a very useful orientation as I continue to explore.


Syllabus for students admitted spring 2017

Other semesters:

Programme Code:
HACFD revision 14
Date of establishment:
18 November 2009
Date of ratification:
24 March 2011
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
21 January 2013
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
12 February 2009

Entry requirements

1. Degree of Bachelor or equivalent.
2. The equivalent of English course B in Swedish secondary school.


Communication for Development is a half time study programme. The form of study is a combination of live seminars and communication on the web. The seminars (2-3 days) are compulsory and consist of lectures, discussions and workshops. For overseas students who cannot physically attend it is possible to follow the seminars on-line. In between the seminars the students carry out assignments individually and in groups.
Courses year one:
Media, Globalization and Development (15 credits)
Communication, Culture and Media Analysis (15 credits)
Courses year two:
New Media, ICT and Development (7,5 credits)
Research Methodology (7,5 credits)
Degree Project (15 credits)
In this programme, where the form of study strives to be conducive to the course content, progression lies in the group dynamic process as well as in the coursework itself. The multidisciplinary nature of the subject means that the same content should provide in-depth knowledge for students with different backgrounds. One major point of this pedagogical approach is to bring together different experiences. The group diversity should allow students to deepen their knowledge of their own major as well as gain a sufficient overview based on the academic backgrounds and practical experiences of other students. This will allow them to be able to work both interdisciplinary and transculturally in their future professions.
There is a clear evolution over the course of the programme, within the specific subject ”Communication for Development.” In the first year, students receive a comprehensive overview of globalisation and a systematic inventory of the entire field. In the second year, students follow specialised courses which ends with an independent project concentrating on one of the field’s sub-areas.



For programme with start Spring 2017:
Spring 2017 - Semester 1
Autumn 2017 - Semester 2
Spring 2018 - Semester 3
Autumn 2018 - Semester 4

Learning outcomes

Communication for Development is an interdisciplinary field of study combining research and practical fieldwork that emerged in the post-war era through the practical intersection of communication and development theories. The progress of this area of study follows to a great degree the paradigmatic shifts within international development cooperation; from the top-down modernization strategies of the 50s and 60s, to today’s process-oriented models that emphasize participation and dialogue, often combining several different strategies. As a result of globalization, the area of study has entered a dynamic phase of reappraisal and fresh ideas regarding the analysis of the role of media in global development and social change, as well as their corresponding communication strategies.
The overall aim of the course is two-fold:
  • To provide in-depth knowledge of various aspects of globalization, emphasizing the role of culture, media and new information and communication technology from a global development perspective.
  • To provide skills for work with development and social change in international development cooperation as well as in other areas.
Learning outcomes
After completing the programme, the student shall demonstrate:
  • an understanding of the social and cultural consequences of globalization processes through in-depth study of specific case studies of communication for development/social change in their local, regional and global context,
  • in-depth knowledge of a variety of methods - from analysis of texts to ethnography and action research - engaging with analyses of communication, learning processes/pedagogy, and cultural conditions. These methods include for example post-colonial perspectives on theory and identity formation,
  • knowledge of important strands of theory in communication and cultural studies (such as participatory communication, semiotics and discourse analysis), and their integration with, and practical application in, communication for development processes,
  • an understanding of international development cooperation and its key players in multi-, bi- and unilateral fields of action, as well as the ability to analyze current trends of development, their mediation (embedded in a variety of strategic discourse and communication) and practical application, and
  • an understanding of several of the following generic themes.
-Governance, Citizenship and the Public Sphere
-Media and Conflict/Peace Communication
-Identity Politics and Social Movements
-Health, Environment and Sustainable Development
- Art, Cultural Heritage and Social Change
After completing the programme, the student shall demonstrate:
  • ability to integrate knowledge and to analyse, evaluate and handle complex phenomena and situations within the area of Communication for Development, even with limited access to information,
  • ability to independently analyse media and cultural artefacts and articulate the importance of media and culture – including new information and communication technology – for global development and social change,
  • skill to evaluate communicative programmes from a global and local development perspective, and to be able to convert this analysis into practice under difficult conditions and with few resources,
  • ability to independently identify and formulate research questions, and to plan and with the help of adequate methods carry out qualified assignments within given time frames,
  • ability to both scientifically analyse and practically implement data and experience that has been collected by the student him-/herself,
  • ability to use advanced critical source analysis when collecting data, especially on the internet,
  • ability to, both in oral and written form, clearly present and discuss his/her conclusions, as well as the knowledge and argumentation that form the basis of these in dialogue with different groups, and
  • such skills that are required to participate in research or development work, or to work in other qualified professions in the area of Communication for Development.
After completing the programme, the student shall demonstrate:
  • ability to make judgements within the area of Communication for Development, with consideration taken to relevant scientific, societal and ethical aspects, and to show an awareness of ethical aspects in relation to research and development work,
  • insights into the possibilities and limitations of research, its role in society, and the responsibility of people for its usage,
  • ability to critically reflect on the various parts of the process of communication, and his/her own role as communicator or mediator,
  • capacity for trans-border cooperation and intercultural dialogue, and consequently critical self-reflection of his/her own background and position of power, including reflection upon ethical issues in relation to his/her work, and
  • ability to identify his/her own need of further knowledge, and to take responsibility for his/her own learning.
Gender, ethnicity/migration saturate the whole programme, but are particularly distinguished in the courses Media, Globalization and Development and Communication, Media and Culture Analysis. Regarding the environmental perspective, Communication for Development emphasizes local initiatives and participation at grass-root level in order to achieve a sustainable development.


Master's Degree (60 credits).
Degree of Master (one year)

Other Information

Access to computer with Internet connection (broadband) is required.


Further information

Enquiries about the Communication for Development Masters programme should be directed to

If you have questions about admissions, requirements or documentation, please contact the Admissions Office at Malmö University, / +46 40 665 75 00.

More information about Communication for Development

Visit the ComDev portal for more information about the programme,

Information about the School of Arts and Communication

K3_vykortThe School of Arts and Communication – also called K3 after its Swedish name “Konst, kultur och kommunikation” – is a multidisciplinary school engaged in media, culture and design. At K3 we combine traditional scholarship and academic knowledge with artistic methods and practical skills. In our teaching and research, art, technology, design and communication converge in new and innovative ways.

K3 offers education in fields as English, interaction design, media and communication studies, visual communication, graphic design, arts journalism, as well as a range of practical courses in different types of media production.

 Education on offer at K3

The education is provided by the Faculty of Culture and Society at the department School of Arts and Communication.