The history of department of development Studies at SUA goes back to 1969 when interdisciplinary courses were first introduced at the University College of Dar es Salaam of the then University of East Africa. In 1970, when the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) was established, a Department of Development Studies was established within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

In July 1973, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) was established under the provision of establishing the University of Dar es Salaam.

Development studies discipline is dedicated to research on processes of social, political and economic development and change in order to understand social problems and development related issues within local communities, national political and economic systems, and international systems.

Studying development for social transformation requires a blending of knowledge and perspectives from various disciplines such as political economy, economics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, geography, history, and environmental science.

The proposed Department of Development Studies will focus on teaching and research on contemporary issues, governance and development, rural development, gender issues, population and demography and natural resources management by employing an interdisciplinary and political economy approach.

The department will host the current Bachelor of Rural Development program, the Master of Arts and PhD in Rural Development. In this department there will be an addition of new undergraduate courses, that is, B.A Governance and Management and M.A Gender and Development.

Also, an Executive Master of Arts degree in Leadership and Governance will also be offered to target personnel in government and non-governmental leadership and management positions. Also, the Department of Development Studies will establish some new undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs. Other postgraduate programs will be an expansion of the undergraduate degree with some minor specializations.

Since Development Studies is an interdisciplinary subject, most of the academic staff have competencies in diverse disciplines. Academic staff with specializations in development studies, political science, international development, sociology, contemporary development and rural development are members of the Department of the Development Studies.

The variety of disciplines in the department plays an instrumental role in establishing different degree programs, carrying out research and also for advising the government on various development challenges.

The department performs, among others, the following roles:

(i) Hosting and teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses
(ii)Teaching Principles, Theories and Contemporary Issues of Development (DS 100) across the University
(iii)Offering PhD programs
(iv)Serving as a think-tank and advisor on development issues to governmental and non-governmental organizations
(v) Conducting research on political, economic, demographic, social and other contemporary society issues