SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Dissertation in Development Studies

Course Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

A 10,000 word dissertation must be submitted by 15 September in the final year of study. Examples of dissertation topics include:

  • Economic policy requirements of conflict resolution and peace maintenance: Rwanda
  • Bargaining for benefits: winners and losers in the international political economy of oil in Nigeria
  • Thailand’s risky business - prostitution, the Hill Tribes and AIDS
  • Approaches to healthcare in the PRC: from barefoot doctor to village doctor
  • Toward a new world disorder: self determination and the break-up of states 
  • The Dhabo power project: a case study of foreign investment in India
  • Community-based rehabilitation: an effective approach to disability in developing countries?

For students taking the MSc with Special Reference to Central Asia the dissertation is linked to their option. Students on the MSc Globalisation and Development and MSc Violence, Conflict and Development should link their dissertations to the themes and concerns of the core module in these programmes. The topic is chosen by the student with the aid of tutors during the second term of the academic year, and researched and written mainly in the period after examinations (in effect, during the three summer months).  

By linking their dissertation topic with their optional modules, students can focus half of their work on the MSc to their own particular interests, whether disciplinary, geographic or thematic in focus. There is also ample scope for developing such special interests by taking advantage of the rich calendar of regular seminars and special lectures at SOAS, organised by all the School’s departments and centres.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate their substantial understanding of a key issue, topic or theme relating to Development Studies;
  • Organize their ideas in response to theoretical and empirical material and plan, develop and present a written argument in relation to this;
  • Show their ability to effectively gather, manage, synthesize and employ relevant data in support of their written argument;
  • Demonstrate their capacity to work independently under the guidance of an academic supervisor;
  • Show that they have followed good academic research practice and have achieved a good level of competence in academic writing.


Learning will be largely autonomous and independent.

Method of assessment

100% coursework. Each student will be expected to submit one essay of no more than 10,000 words. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules