Sustainable Integrated Rural Development in Africa (SIRDA)

Programme aim

The Sustainable Integrated Rural Development in Africa (SIRDA) Programme is a professional, interdisciplinary programme which seeks to impart in concerted practical ways knowledge and skills required for reducing poverty, enhancing opportunities, and improving the human living conditions in rural Africa. It is practice-oriented and underpinned by a philosophy of human capacity development. It was originally conceptualized as a two-year training-of-trainers Master’s Degree programme in four West African universities targeting actual or potential rural development practitioners. A PhD component is now being developed by some participating universities to ensure the production of needed critical faculty and research output to sustain the programme.


Degree awarded

  • Master’s in Sustainable Integrated Rural Development
  • MSc/MPhil in Sustainable Integrated Rural Development
  • PhD in Sustainable Rural Development (under consideration)


Institutions offering SIRDA graduate degrees:

  1. University of Ghana, (UG) Legon,
  2. University for Development Studies, (UDS) Tamale, Ghana,
  3. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, (KNUST) Kumasi, Ghana, and
  4. University of Ibadan, (UI) Ibadan, Nigeria

Length of study        

Institution 1 year Masters 2 year Masters/MPhil & PhD
Department of Geography and Resource Development, University of Ghana, Legon To commence in the near future
Department of Agricultural Extension Rural Development and Gender Studies, University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana To commence in the near future To commence in the near future
Bureau of Integrated Rural Development & Department of Agricultural Economics, Agribusiness and Extension, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana



To commence in the near future
Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Ibadan, Nigeria


(18 months duration)


Student intake


The number of students admitted each year varies among the participating universities and in each degree programme.


Program description

SIRDA is designed for parallel implementation by the participating West African universities. The SIRDA graduate degrees are structured to be uniquely innovative in their combination of several component of a unified rural development training strategy:

  • Holistic perspective,
  • Integrated multidisciplinary methodology,
  • Endogenous approaches,
  • Extensive participatory community-based field-oriented work, and
  • Built-in capacity to generate employment for university graduates and rural youth.

The emphasis on practical training through application of appropriate development theories will:

  1. Generate positive synergies between the theories and practical experiences
  2. Enhance the capacity of graduates and the rural communities for self-employment and engagement in the public sector.

Courses comprise core ones focused on solidifying theoretical and methodological foundations, and elective ones categorized into environmental, economic/livelihood, and social, which are practice- oriented. The courses and programmes are interdisciplinary with faculty members drawn from the Humanities and Social Sciences, Agricultural Science, other relevant academic units of the implementing universities. The teaching involves collaboration with external and industry experts.


Structure of curriculum


The structure of the program and number of courses offered depends on the level of study. However, overall, they encapsulate theoretical and methodological perspectives on:

  • Theories and Policies of Development with special reference to rural Africa,
  • Community-Resident Practical Training in Integrated Participatory Rural Development, and
  • Internship

The rest are electives of a more practical nature, which are categorized into:

  • Environmental, such as Waste Management
  • Economic/Livelihood, such as Alternative Income Generating Activities
  • Social, such as Gender and Rural Development.

Pedagogy involves: student-centred approach; conventional face-to-face classroom methods; modular presentations; laboratory work; field demonstrations; group discussions; attachment; the use of digital platforms and other forms of new media. Performance assessment methods include term papers, seminar presentations, and end of semester examination. External examiners are used to evaluate the students and faculty members to ensure quality.


How to qualify for SIRDA graduate degrees


To qualify for any of the SIRDA degrees, a candidate must demonstrate interest in sustainable rural development, enroll in a specific program based on the participating universities admission requirement, pass all the core courses, the required number of elective courses, participate in all seminars and submit a written thesis.


Comments from Associate Professor Amin Alhassan (UDS, Tamale, Ghana)


Since the launch of the programme in 2014, the demand for admission from prospective students has been phenomenal. The SIRDA degree programme is distinguished by its interdisciplinary character, which brings together faculty from the Humanities and Natural Sciences to develop a critically needed skill-set for sustainable rural development. The internships and extensive periods of problem-based field practical placement aimed at finding solutions to poverty alleviation and creating opportunities for employment makes SIRDA degree a programme most relevant to the development challenges of out time. By making the finding of solutions to rural livelihoods challenges the focus, the programme has come to stay as the degree to have as a rural sector