Master of Social Change and Development

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If a career in not-for-profit or government aid appeals to your sense of adventure or you already have the desire and passion to pursue a career in the professional service of others, then the Master of Social Change and Development will provide you with the foundational knowledge you need to begin that journey.

With growing demand for qualified professionals to undertake roles in community development and policy analysis, the University of Newcastle’s program will enable you to take on positions within funded development projects, aid organisations and government departments. It could also take you outside of Australia to developing countries which are supported through government departments.

The Master of Social Change and Development covers all aspects of social change, from the macro global issues to their impact on regional and local communities. This is achieved through a balance of theoretical and practical coursework which can be delivered online or face-to-face via a blended learning approach to accommodate your needs. Once armed with these skills, you will be able to work effectively as an administrator, field officer, researcher, development planner, educator or manager.

Our advanced online learning system provides you with the flexibility and support to study anytime, anywhere to balance work, life and study. You can achieve your accredited Master of Social Change and Development at a time that suits you.

Explore this page and find out if the Master of Social Change and Development is for you, what you will study and the career opportunities it can provide you.

Is it for you?

If you are looking for an opportunity to improve your contribution and effectiveness in the area of social change and development, the Master of Social Change and Development will prepare you with the required knowledge and skills to achieve this goal. With an increasing need for qualified professionals, you will graduate with the necessary credentials to work in key areas including Aboriginal studies, organisational leadership and capacity building, trade and development, and sustainable agriculture and food security for rural development - in Australia as well as developing countries.

The Master of Social Change and Development will prepare you to understand the implications of wider social and political changes at a global level which affect local conditions and capacities. This knowledge is essential when working in international development. With advanced theoretical and applicable knowledge you will be prepared to meet the challenges of development work in a rapidly changing global environment.

What distinguishes this program from others in this field is the opportunity it offers to create your own research work as part of a research project. Not only does this give scope to individuals already working within the field to further pursue their specific areas of interest, but it enables those new to the field to explore many paths to shape their career's future.

Able to be completed in one year full-time, the program is ideally suited to those who have completed undergraduate degrees in social sciences, human resources, politics, health, environmental studies, indigenous studies or agriculture.

To find out more about what you will study, visit the 'Study' tab.


The University of Newcastle’s Master of Social Change and Development enables you to tailor your education to best align with your career objectives by selecting one of the following specialisations: general specialisation, Aboriginal studies, food security for rural development, organisational leadership and capacity building, and international and development economics.

The Aboriginal studies specialisation will have you looking at the issues underlying traditional Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander cultures and the complexity of community and its role in shaping language, dynamics, relationships and education pathways. You will also learn to design and develop social programs and projects, and a range of social science research methods to help shape these programs.

The Food Security and Sustainable Rural Development specialisation is designed especially for students who are likely to be working with government or NGOs in rural situations in developing countries and concentrating on food and agriculture. It is particularly useful for students who have been employed as agricultural officers in developing countries and for Australian students who want to work with development NGOs. It provides an understanding of the social, political and cultural context of food insecurity in rural contexts. It considers various approaches to designing and evaluating projects for food security. It explains the agricultural strategies available for food security in impoverished rural settings.

Organisational leadership and capacity building specialisation is particularly suitable if you are already working within the human service field.  You will learn about transformative leadership, preparing you to critically examine the values and ideas which underpin current leadership practices in human services organisations. Not only will students learn best practice approaches to leadership, they will learn how to motivate, coach and mentor staff to generate the best possible outcomes.

The International and development economics specialisation will prepare you to adeptly identify and manage issues in developing economies by understanding their social contexts. You will also focus on the urbanisation of local or regional environments, theories of growth, development and underdevelopment as well as the impacts of human capital, poverty, inequality and discrimination. Sustainable agriculture and food security for rural development specialisation is a niche area of social change. You will develop specialist skills in environment issues and social context, supported by field trips to help demonstrate the real-life application of these issues. You will also learn about national policy on food security, the agricultural strategies used in food interventions and the ability to effectively design and present socially relevant intervention strategies at a local level.

You may also undertake the general specialisation, which enables you to select from the majority of courses on offer, without the need to specialise in one specific area.

Further to your specialisation courses, you will be required to complete the core course, social change and development, where you will discover the concepts and analytical skills to understand the changes that have taken place in post-colonial societies. You will examine globalisation and economic development in relation to specific social groups as well as gender, ethnicity and social movements.

To find out more about where the Master of Social Change and Development can lead you, visit the 'Careers' tab.


At the completion of your Master of Social Change and Development you will have the relevant theoretical and practical knowledge to take on meaningful roles in government agencies, non-government organisations and private firms.

You will have the necessary knowledge and skills to understand the processes of social change and development and to improve your effectiveness as an administrator, researcher, development planner, educator or manager.

As Australia engages more and more with developing countries, there is a growing need for qualified professionals to work in the community development and policy analysis sectors of funded development projects and aid organisations. The University of Newcastle’s Master of Social Change and Development can be the program to make your career goals a reality.

For more detailed information on eligibility, courses and requirements of the Master of Social Change and Development, visit the ‘Details’ tab.

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