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.
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.
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.