Emma Cliffe on studying international development

Studying international development at RMIT opened Emma Cliffe’s life up to a world of career possibilities, including working with major global NGOs.


Emma Cliffe - woman standing in front of neutral background

Opening doors to the world of international development.

I studied a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Political Science and Development Studies, and enrolled in postgraduate study at RMIT to deepen my knowledge of international development and further my career prospects in the sector.

I love international development because I work every day with dedicated and inspiring people who strive to make the world a better place

The Master of International Development is very practical, with a strong focus on skills and expertise that are required in the international development sector, such as project management, monitoring, evaluation, management and leadership. The program allowed me to specialise in and focus on the areas of study that interested me, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Many of the academic and sessional staff at RMIT are practising development professionals with strong links to the Australian and international development sector. I found the opportunity to learn from people with such diverse and interesting professional backgrounds a really valuable aspect of the program, and this helped to expand my understanding of possible career pathways in the sector.

In 2015 I completed an International Development Research Project, which provided an opportunity for me to research an area of professional practice in the field. I worked with Red R Australia, an international humanitarian training and deployment agency, to research innovative partnerships in the humanitarian shelter sector. This included travelling to the Za’atri and Azraq refugee camps in Jordan to undertake research on transitional shelter solutions.

Emma Cliffe riding a horse in the desert As part of her studies, Emma travelled to Jordan to undertake research on transitional shelter solutions. Photo: Supplied by Emma Cliffe.

After graduating from the program last year, I continued to collaborate with Red R Australia and was accepted to present on the findings of my research at the Australian and New Zealand Emergency and Disaster Management Conference in the Gold Coast in May 2016. My journal article was also accepted as a peer-reviewed paper and was recently published in the conference book of proceedings.

I am currently working in the area of grant management and institutional funding for Oxfam Australia. In my current role I am responsible for coordinating the DFAT Australian NGO Cooperation Program Partnership, Oxfam Australia’s single largest institutional funding grant, valued at almost $12 million annually.

The Master of International Development is well structured to accommodate postgraduate students with pre-existing work and family commitments. The class schedules allowed me to balance part-time study with full-time work.

Undertaking further study can be challenging and requires dedication and commitment, but I would advise future postgraduate students to really embrace the opportunity wholeheartedly and make the most of all the experiences on offer. Postgraduate study was such a valuable experience for me, and one that allowed me to grow both personally and professionally.


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