Credit points


Campus offering

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20cp from 200-level units in International Development Studies

Unit rationale, description and aim

The aim of this unit is to provide students with insight into having a career in the development sector by exploring diverse pathways to engage in development and/or humanitarian work - domestically or internationally.

The unit offers students an enhanced opportunity to reflect on the intersection of theory and practice as they prepare for a career in humanitarian and development work. Content will cover how to develop networks, how to break into the sector and how to prepare for the technical, emotional, physical and psychological challenges that they will face in a humanitarian career. The unit will include a guest speaker program that enables students to have rare access to specialist development practitioners who are currently working in the sector. Through this, students will be exposed to various forms of development practice. Students will be supported to consider their own career goals and to develop essential work-ready skills.

This unit aims to challenge students to consider their own values and engage in experiential learning practices to develop self-directed and autonomous work practices that will assist in the development of their own unique development work pathway.

Students are required to undertake a 70-hour field placement and encouraged and supported to choose a placement that best fits the career pathway they have decided to pursue, and as such, field placement will differ from student to student. Through all placement experiences, students will be supported to articulate their learnings and apply these insights to theoretical frameworks as well as their own professional practice.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Synthesise their knowledge of the development and humanitarian sectors and identify the skills required to work within it. (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5)

LO2 - Demonstrate capacity to work as a humanitarian/development worker in a professional manner including working on a project in an approved organisation (GA3, GA5, GA7)

LO3 - Critically reflect on their learning, their values and attitudes as a result of the placement and how the course has prepared them to meet their career goals (GA2, GA4, GA5)

LO4 - Plan a career pathway into development (locally or internationally) (GA5)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3-apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 


Topics will include:

  • Working in the international development and humanitarian sector – exploring pathways
  • Developing networks within the development and humanitarian sector
  • Mental health and wellbeing as a humanitarian development worker
  • Preparing for the technical, emotional, physical and psychological challenges of a career in humanitarian work
  • Guest lectures – different aspects of development and humanitarian work and the challenges of working in the field (from alumni and others working in the field.)
  • 70 hour approved placement

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The 18 hours of contact time will be used to provide students with an insight into the development sector (locally and internationally) through the use of guest lectures and interactive learning experiences.

Students will undertake 70 hours in an approved placement which may in be Australia or through an approved ACU overseas experience. Students may choose a placement that best fits their desired career pathway. Students will be expected to work with the organisation to identify a project of value to the organisation and with beneficial learning and skill development opportunities for the student. Students will be challenged to consider their own values and beliefs through purposeful, reasoned and goal directed critical thinking, and in consultation with field educators apply adult learning principles and experiential learning techniques to develop self-directed learning and autonomous work practices. Individualised field education plans will be negotiated between the student, organisation and university

Mode/ Attendance Pattern:


Three contact hours per week for six weeks or equivalent over twelve weeks; 70-hour period of voluntary placement time, which may be in Australia or overseas through an ACU approved project. The 70-hour period may be conducted part-time as needed.

150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 70 hours of placement and 18 hours of directed study. The balance of the hours becomes private study.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The unit includes two hurdle assessments each with their own purpose.

The first hurdle task, the placement agreement, clarifies the role to be performed by the student and the expectations of both parties. This assessment also prompts students to provide any necessary documentation such as a police check and/or working with children check and requires that each student submits a signed statement acknowledging the expectations arising from ACU’s student code of conduct and the social media policy. This is connected to LO2

The second hurdle task requires students to complete 70 hours of community placement. Students may undertake a longer placement if available and approved by the lecturer. Students will undertake and report on a community-based project, gain significant insight into workplace issues, and further develop employability skills in communication, planning and organisation, self-management and problem solving. This is connected to LO2.

There are two graded assessment tasks in the unit:

The first task is an essay on the skills required for development work. The essay should include a justification of why each skill is important.

The second task is a Career- investigation and reflection. The paper will include an investigation into proposed career in international development, or humanitarian work and a critical reflection that discusses how what you learnt from the placement and the rest of the BINTDEVST course can be incorporated into your future career goals. (The refection should include an incorporation of the theories, ideas and/or tools you have learnt in the course as well as a reflection on what you have learnt through the placement.)


A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. As a final year unit, this is a graded unit. In order to meet the learning outcomes for this unit students must complete and submit all assessment tasks designated for the unit and meet specified attendance or placement requirements specified in the Placement Agreement.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Hurdle task:

Placement Agreement and any other documentation required (Police check and/or Working with Children Check)



GA3, GA5


Hurdle Task: 70 hours of placement

This hurdle requires students to complete 70 hours of placement and to submit a validation and evaluation report from the relevant organisation confirming satisfactory completion of the placement, as per the terms of the Placement Agreement.

Students who have volunteered in a development organisation (locally or overseas) over the past 3 years may apply for an exemption to the 70 hours placement but will still be required to have the validation and evaluation report filled in by their organisation and undertake Assessments 1 & 2.



GA3, GA5


Assessment 1: Essay

Students are required to write an essay on the important skills required for a career in a humanitarian and international development work and justify why they are important.



GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5

Assessment 2: Careers-orientated investigation and reflection

The purpose of this assignment is to help students prepare for work in IDS by investigating a career that is of interest to them and reflecting on how their course and their placement has prepared them for their future career goals.


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5,


Representative texts and references

Alexander, J. (2013), Chasing Chaos: My decade in and out of humanitarian aid, Crown/Archetype

Beristain, C. (2006) Humanitarian Aid Work: A Critical Approach, University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia, PA.

Corbett, S., & Fikkert, B. (2009). When helping hurts: How to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor-- and yourself. Chicago, Ill.: Moody Publishers.

Dunkley, F. (2019), Psychosocial Support for Humanitarian Aid Workers: A Roadmap of Trauma and Critical Incident Care, Routledge.

Gedde, M. (2015), Working in International development and Humanitarian Assistance, Routledge, NY.

Fechter, A. & Hindman, H. (2010) Inside the Everyday Lives of Development Workers: The Challenges and Futures of Aidland. Kumarian Press: Sterling VA.

Pigni, A. (2016), The Idealist’s Survival Kit: 100 Simple Ways to Prevent Burnout, Parallax Press,

Reis, C. & Bernath, T.(2016), Becoming an international Humanitarian Aid worker, Butterworth-Heinemann, UK.

Slim, H.(2015), Humanitarian Ethics: A guide to the morality of aid in war and disaster, Oxford University Press: UK.

Stark, R. & Bicknell, B. (2011) How to Work in Someone Else’s Country, University of Washington Press: Washington, DC.

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