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Archives of the Course on Development and earlier and later development studies programmes, 1925 - 1982

Reference Code: GBR/0265/UA/CDEV

Scope and Contents

The Course on Development began as the Course for Colonial Probationers in 1927. Previously this had been a short course held in London, but in 1925 the Colonial Office asked Cambridge and Oxford Universities to provide the course and the University set up a supervising committee in November 1926. All those attending the one year course were graduates divided into cadet officers (administrators) and agricultural probationers. The administrators then went on to the University of London for a short period of intensive language instruction at the School of Oriental and African Studies, while the agricultural probationers went to the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad for a further year. In 1929 the language instruction was transferred to Cambridge and included within the three term syllabus. Instruction covered practical and academic subjects; examinations were jointly organised with the Colonial Office. A club, the African Services Club, was started to provide a social centre.
The training came to an end in 1940, but was revived after the Second World War as the 'Devonshire Courses', as a result of the recommendations of the Devonshire Committee, to provide instruction not only for administrative and agricultural cadets (the First Course), but also for more senior officers (the Second Course).
In 1953, the increasing numbers of locally-recruited officers and the approach of self-government for most colonies led to further changes. The name changed to the Overseas Services Course. The First Course became 'Course A' and the Second Course 'Course B'. By 1963, more flexible programmes on development economics had been introduced and the name changed to the Course on Development. In 1969, course administration was moved to University (from 1973 Wolfson) College.
The independent project ended with the withdrawal of government funding in 1981; some of its courses (especially the new MPhil in Development Studies) were taken over by the Department of Land Economy.
The surviving records relate chiefly to the course post 1945. For the period 1925-40, there are minute books, examination papers and photographs only. Thereafter, the records cover committee business, student administration, curriculum delivery and review, examinations and conferences.


  • Creation: 1925 - 1982


Conditions Governing Access

Records containing personal data are closed to scholars for 80 years from the date of creation under data protection legislation. Restrictions are clearly indicated in catalogue entries.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests to publish text should be addressed to the Keeper of University Archives, photographs to the Head of Digital Content Unit; both at Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR.

Biographical / Historical

The Colonial Service Probationers Committee, reporting to the Council of the Senate, supervised the course, 1926-47; the Colonial Studies Committee, reporting to the General Board, supervised the course, 1947-55; the Overseas Studies Committee, reporting to the General Board, supervised the course, 1955-82.


18 linear metre(s) : paper and photograph

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

In 1971, prior to the earliest transfer of material, C.E. Welch prepared a catalogue and assigned the classmarks CDEV 1-10. On arrival at the University Archives, several items for which classmarks had been assigned were found to be missing. Catalogue entries for records transferred thereafter were added to Welch's list by hand. In 2002, the catalogue was converted to digital form, restructured somewhat to bring record series together and detail emended in light of the Data Protection Act, 1998. The contents of CDEV 10 which had been described as 'Miscellanea' were redistributed among other categories as part of this exercise and the classmark CDEV 10 assigned to a new category: staff records. At the same time, those files, 1968-82, previously classified as CDEV ODC and box listed only, were considerably reorganised and new classmarks assigned. Former and current classmarks are given in the new listing. A hardcopy catalogue is available for consultation in the reading room of the Department of Manuscripts and University Archives (ref.: UA In.19).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Record transfers were made to the University Archives by Mrs D.M. Bennett in 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1982 and by Mrs P. French in 1986 and 1988. CDEV 6/105 was transferred to the University Archives by an unidentified donor in 1999. The records are a permanent transfer to the University Archives.


The online catalogue was completed in 2002 and emended in March 2007, January 2008 and June 2010.


Colonial Service Probationers Committee and its successors, the Colonial Studies Committee and the Overseas Studies Committee

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom