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Teaching Programme

SLE's study programme teaches students the ability to...

  • make expert contributions to current debates in development studies and to turn this expertise into successful, practical recommendations;
  • understand and work with complex, multidimensional and cross-sector structures, using the 'multi-level approach' (global, national, regional and local) to collaborate in planning, leading and evaluating projects;
  • handle cooperation structures sensitively and effectively, bringing their specialist knowledge to collaborative, inclusive partnerships;
  • reflect critically on their own specialist skills, to establish values and principles, and to define carefully their own role and contribution;
  • to deal flexibly and proactively with changes and new developments in the field, and to be part of these changes;
  • to adapt appropriately to different cultural contexts and to work constructively with different customs and values.



Taught courses

The five taught modules at  SLE take into account the fact that students will have different types and levels of knowledge, and come from different academic disciplines.

Module 1: Theory, politics and strategies in sustainable development

Module 2: Communication, teamwork, working methods

Module 3: Management methods in international cooperation

Module 4: International cooperation

Module 5: Action and Decision-oriented Studies / Joint International Research Projects (JIRP)


Module 1: Theory, politics and strategies in sustainable development

Students gain an in-depth knowledge of current discussions, trends and theories in development studies. They train their analytical and critical thinking skills while learning about the conflicts and tensions that exist within the field. Through a reflection on ethical principles, they are prompted to consider critically their own preconceptions and prejudices.

The students also learn practical tools and strategies for sustainable development, with a focus on the rural sector. These skills in development cooperation are shaped with the 'classic' developing countries of the southern hemisphere in mind, but are also applicable to fragile or crisis states, and to transition countries.


  • Development theory
  • International development policy in transition
  • International cooperation and racism
  • Development Studies Symposia
  • Basics of disaster prevention in international cooperation
  • Transition aid - from LRRD to resilience
  • Crisis prevention and peacebuilding
  • Urbanisation in the global South
  • Tools and strategies for sustainable development (economic, political, institutional, social and ecological dimensions)


Module 2: Communication, teamwork, working methods

Throughout the entire training programme at SLE, students systematically develop their communicative and social skills. Among the most important such skills are the ability to work in interdisciplinary teams towards a common goal or solution, an awareness of the special nature of intercultural cooperation, a sound knowledge of one's own skills and personality and how these relate to the challenges of the field, good conflict resolution skills, and a tolerance for frustration. In training these skills and the relevant working methods, students develop a professional approach to teamwork.


  • Teamwork and team management
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Mediation
  • Planning workshops and participatory methods
  • Presentation skills
  • Conflict management and strategic negotiation
  • Team building and conflict management in groups
  • Safety training
  • Writing reports in teams


Module 3: Special management methods in international cooperation

SLE teaches the most important management methods used in international cooperation and development cooperation, with a central emphasis on methodological implementation and attention to results. As well studying widely-used international standard methods (such as the Logical Framework Approach), we also examine directly the challenges that complex cooperation projects pose for planning, monitoring and evaluation, whether 'classic' or participatory.


  • Planning international cooperation initiatives
  • Monitoring and evaluation in international cooperation


Module 4: Careers in international cooperation

Students at  SLE receive systematic preparation for work in the field of international cooperation, and are guided intensively in identifying and developing their individual skills. An ongoing coaching programme supports them in the job application process.


Module 5: Action and Decision-oriented Investigation / Joint International Research Projects (JIRP)

Module 5 involves preparing, carrying out and evaluating studies commissioned by development organisations. This three-month long stay overseas in four groups of five students, supported by professional team leaders, is prepared according to the SLE's systematic methodological approach. In view of SLE's transformation agenda of 2021, research is also conducted in the Global North.

The JIRP (FKA overseas project) is the core of the SLE study programme. It is here that the skills and knowledge taught at SLE are put into practice. By involving students in the systematic preparation and exploration of a new topic, this practical experience also trains conceptual and analytical skills.