Becoming involved in international development

Career opportunities with Practical Action
Working in international development
Volunteering opportunities
Other work opportunities
Finding help with education expenses
Experience Development website

Career opportunities with Practical Action

Practical Action’s offices around the world employ nationals of the countries in which they are situated and Practical Action does not have an overseas volunteering programme. The scope to work with Practical Action for UK residents is therefore limited to permanent UK-based positions as they arise and very occasional opportunities for short-term research and voluntary work in our head office near Rugby.

Permanent positions are advertised in the national press of the relevant country, in journals and on Practical Action’s website. Please note that we are unable to hold speculative applications on file.

Consultants with professional experience of working in developing countries can register with Practical Action Consulting, who carry out a wide range of work in enterprise development, sustainable livelihoods, energy and the environment. Contact Practical Action Consulting directly join their.

Download Changing Lives, Practical Action's guide to working in international development. (PDF, 858k)

Working in International Development

Individuals considering a career in international development and/or appropriate technology should bear in mind that most agencies are looking for a combination of qualifications and several years relevant work experience.

Courses of Study

There are over thirty universities in the UK that offer courses covering aspects of international development and/or appropriate technology. Most of these have a particular emphasis, for example on development policy, agriculture or economics, and an increasing number also offer distance learning or short specialist courses. More information can be found from the following:

Development Studies in the UK and Ireland
The Development Studies Association:
This site provides information on development studies and related courses offered by 41 university centres and departments, as well as possible funding opportunities for the course of your choice. Searches can be made by institution, type of study programme and field of study.

Courses Resource Guide
Published by the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), Machynlleth, Powys, SY20 9AZ. Tel: 01654 705950. Fax: 01654 702782. Website: £3.
A booklet with information and contact details on courses with a sustainability theme. The guide includes sections on renewable energy, engineering and organic agriculture and also lists many short practical courses.

Bond Training Directory
Available on the Bond website:
A directory of organisations offering training of interest and value to NGOs and individuals working in the field of international development, from specialist one-day courses to full-time degrees.

The British Council
The British Council, 10 Spring Gardens, London SW1A 2BN. Tel: 020 79308466. Fax: 020 78396347. E-mail: Website:
The British Council is the main source of guidance for international students wishing to study in the UK. Contact them for information about full-time, part-time or distance learning courses in the UK, studying for a UK course while abroad or applying to a UK university or college.

The Universities and Colleges Admission Service for the UK (UCAS)
Rosehill, New Barn Lane, Cheltenham GL52 3LZ. Tel: 01242 227788. Fax: 01242 544961. Website:
Information and advice for applicants to full-time undergraduate courses in the UK.

CRAC Degree Course Guides
Published by Hobsons, the CRAC degree course guides contain lists of university courses and are available in libraries and careers offices.

UKCOSA: The Council for International Education
UKCOSA provides advice and information to those studying, or wishing to study in the UK. A comprehensive set of Guidance Notes for international students can be downloaded from the 'Advice for International Students' area of the UKCOSA website on issues such as Council Tax, immigration, fee status and eligibility for student support. UKCOSA also operates a Student Advice Line, which is open Monday to Friday 1-4pm on 020 7107 9922.

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Finding help with education expenses

Practical Action is not a funding agency and is therefore unable to provide educational grants. If you are an overseas student seeking help with education expenses we suggest you contact your Ministry of Education, the nearest British Council office and the college or university you wish to attend for information on funding opportunities. Scholarships, fellowships and bursaries may also be available from educational trusts and foundations, United Nations agencies, the European Union and Regional Development Banks. The following organisations and publications may also help you identify suitable sources of funding:

The Educational Grants Directory
Directory of Social Change Publications. ISBN 1 900360 70 5. £19.95.
This directory provides a list of education funding sources up to and including degree level for individuals in need, a model of how to make an effective application and a basic guide to welfare benefits, statutory funding, loans and sponsorship.

The Grants Register
Palgrave. ISBN 0333947290. £125.
Updated annually, this is a comprehensive guide to over 4,000 postgraduate and professional awards worldwide.

Study Abroad
UNESCO. ISBN 92 3 003606 4. Approx £15.
An international guide to higher education study opportunities and scholarships offered by universities, specialised schools and international organisations in 124 countries. The guide can also be downloaded free from the UNESCO website

International Awards 2001+
Association of Commonwealth Universities. ISBN 0 85143 176 3. £40 (£28 for international students).
This directory of funding opportunities for students and researchers wishing to study in a country other than their own includes award schemes offered by sponsors from the United States, Europe and by many Commonwealth universities.

The Educational Grants Advisory Service (EGAS)
501-505 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AU. Tel: 0207 2496636.
EGAS offers advice and information to UK residents on funding for education and training and will undertake a search of their database to identify potential sources of financial help for students.

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Volunteering opportunities

A wide range of opportunities for individuals wishing to work in developing countries are available through UK-based organisations that work through volunteers. Placements with the largest of these, listed below, are based with local organisations and/or government departments in developing countries and aim to reduce poverty and promote self-reliance through the sharing of volunteers’ skills. Applicants must be qualified and/or experienced in their chosen field and demonstrate commitment, resourcefulness, sensitivity to other cultures and an aptitude for teamwork. Volunteers receive a package of benefits that varies between organisations but usually includes pre-departure training, flights, accommodation, a modest living allowance, national insurance contributions, medical insurance and resettlement grants.

Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)
317 Putney Bridge Road, London SW15 2PN. Tel: 020 87807200. Fax: 020 87807300. E-mail Website:
The largest independent volunteer-sending agency in the world, VSO offers two-year volunteer placements in almost all professional walks of life in over 60 countries.

Worldwide Helpers
Email: Website:
Worldwide helpers are a useful network for people looking to voluntarily support projects either overseas or in the UK.

Challenges Worldwide (CWW)
54 Manor Place, Edinburgh, EH3 7EH. Tel: 0845 2000342. E-mail: Website:
Challenges Worldwide began in 1999, providing volunteers with an opportunity to use their professional skills to help grow sustainable business and enterprise in developing countries. Volunteer assignments range from 3 to 6 months in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Skillshare International
126 New Walk, Leicester LE1 7JA. Tel: 0116 2541862. Fax: 0116 2542614. E-mail: Website:
Skillshare International works for sustainable development through two-year volunteer placements in nine countries in Africa and Asia.

International Co-operation for Development (ICD)
Unit 3 Canonbury Yard, 190a New North Road, London N1 7BJ. Tel: 020 73540883. Fax: 020 73590017. E-mail: Website:
ICD is the technical assistance programme of the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR). It recruits volunteer development workers for two-year placements in ten countries across Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean.

International Service (IS)
Hunter House, 57 Goodramgate, York YO1 2LS. Tel: 01904 647799. Fax: 01904 652353. E-mail: Website:
International Service recruits professionals for two-year placements with organisations in Latin America, West Africa and the Middle East.

Returned Volunteer Action (RVA) Introductory Pack
Available from RVA, 1 Amwell Street, London EC1R 1TH. Tel: 020 72780804. Fax: 020 72787019. E-mail: £3.50 plus a 44p stamped, self-addressed envelope.
This pack comprises a guide to opportunities and two booklets that aim to help people who are considering volunteering overseas to think through the issues and implications in an informed way.

Accounting for International Development (AfID)
Accounting for International Development (AfID) is a social enterprise that offers experienced finance professionals the opportunity to use their skills to make a difference as volunteers and to gain hands-on International Development experience.

Engineers Without Borders UK
EWB-UK Placements send volunteers from the UK to work with development organisations. UK-based university students and professionals with less than 4 years technical experience can apply to become an EWB-UK Placement Volunteer. Placements are based in both developing countries and the UK and last 3-12 months.

A list of contact details for many more organisations offering short-term voluntary work overseas, both skilled and unskilled, can be found in the World Service Enquiry guide mentioned below.

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Other work opportunities

For individuals seeking work with other development organisations or UK-based charities we recommend the following:

World Service Enquiry
233 Bon Marché Centre, 241-251 Ferndale Road, London SW9 8BJ. Tel: 020 73465950. Fax: 020 73465955. E-mail: Website:
World Service Enquiry provides information, advice and an annual guide (suggested donation £3) for people seeking work in developing countries. The guide contains contact details for hundreds of organisations with voluntary work opportunities, both skilled and unskilled, and sources of information on working overseas such as books, websites and registers of personnel working in relief and development. WSE also publish Opportunities Abroad, a monthly list of vacancies with development and mission organisations which is available online or as a printed bulletin. Their interview and database services provide more specialised assistance to people with relevant skills seeking work in international development.

OneWorld International
Floor 17, 89 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TP. Tel: 020 77352100. Fax: 020 78400798. E-mail: Website:
OneWorld is a community of over 1,000 organisations working for social justice based around an extensive website. The jobs section lists vacancies from organisations all over the world and also has links to other vacancy lists such as those issued by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Bond.

do-it is an online database of volunteer opportunities both in the UK and abroad.

A website with current vacancies in UK charities including jobs in fundraising, management and international development.

Guardian Unlimited jobs
This website of current vacancies advertised in the Guardian newspaper has a search facility and a dedicated charities section.

89 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TP. Tel: 020 75826543. Fax: 020 75822423. E-mail:
REACH recruits people of all ages and backgrounds with professional career experience to expenses-only positions with UK voluntary organisations which need their expertise.

NB: Please check current prices before ordering. Telephone numbers are correct for dialing from within the UK. If calling from another country, first dial any necessary international code, then dial 44 for the UK, omit the first 0 of the number and then dial the remaining digits.

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