WHAT IS IT? An AS course looking at global issues such as poverty, the environment, aid, human rights and trade. You'll use case studies from around the world. For example, when focusing on the environment, you'll investigate topics from recycling in your local area to deforestation in the Amazon. This is a course with a conscience. "It considers how societies based on fairness and equality can be created" says Trevor Evans, chief examiner in world development at WJEC.

WHY DO IT? Because you want to understand how the world works now and how to make it work better.

WHAT SKILLS DO YOU NEED? No specific qualifications are required. Good communication and IT skills are useful.

HOW MUCH PRACTICAL WORK IS THERE? You'll do a research study on an issue of your choice relating to the first module, "Development, People and the Environment". Some students use a holiday in an exotic part of the world to study local problems. For example, they might look at the damage being done to coral reefs in Australia or Africa. Others study problems in their local area such as the recycling of nappies, bottles and paper.


IS IT HARD? You'll need to juggle lots of different subjects and ideas. "The course is rigorous. It deals with complex issues involving reference to economics, politics and gender problems, in addition to religious and cultural considerations," says Evans. You'll probably already be familiar with many of the key concepts, such as globalisation and sustainable development

WHO TAKES IT? It's mostly available in colleges, but a few schools are taking it up.

HOW COOL IS IT? Very. "Students are seen to be dealing with problems and issues in exotic areas – particular kudos is directed at those who go to far and distant lands to do research," says Evans.

ADDED VALUE: You can go travelling in the name of your education.


WHAT DEGREES DOES IT LEAD TO? You can take a degree in world development at Swansea, and study it in many other guises, such as development studies, at other institutions.

WILL IT SET YOU UP FOR A BRILLIANT CAREER? It's more of a lesson in life than a qualification for a career. But if you stick with world development, many careers in charities, non-governmental organisations and other international bodies will be open to you.

WHAT DO THE STUDENTS SAY? They like it. "Originally, I wasn't interested in taking the course – I thought it was just about politics," says Abigail Levesque, 17, who is also studying for A-levels in history, psychology and English at Park College in Eastbourne. "But it's so relevant and useful. For my coursework, I looked at child labour in Pakistan."


HOW WIDELY AVAILABLE IS IT AROUND THE COUNTRY? Fairly, especially in colleges.