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Department of Development Studies

Key facts

Department of Development ranked 8th nationally for research quality

18 December 2014: Department in the UK top 10 for quality of its research with more than 60% of research judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Read more...

Our Strengths

Our academic staff have unrivalled, practical and theoretical knowledge of the many branches of enquiry that make up Development Studies (political economy, globalisation, migration and displacement, conflict, agrarian change, labour movements, political ecology and institutions to name a few). Combined with exceptional access to resources and a cross-disciplinary approach, we offer a unique learning and research opportunity for a diverse and vibrant student community.

Facts and Figures

  • 6th in the UK and 11th in the world (QS Rankings 2015/16)
  • 94% student satisfaction for teaching and 90% student satisfaction overall (National Student Survey 2014/15)
  • 7:1 UG applicant/place ratio
  • Excellent staff/student ratio
  • Research clusters: Labour, Movements and Development; Neoliberalism, Globalisation and States; Violence, Peace and Development; Centre for Water and Development; Migration, Mobility and Development; Agrarian Change and Development; and Development Policy, Aid, Institutions and Poverty Reduction.
  • Many of our staff are regularly engaged in a wide range of research with international development institutions, including United Nations agencies, nongovernmental organisations, and government development departments.

Fair Trade, Employment and Poverty Reduction

A four year project conducted by researchers at SOAS found that Fairtrade failed to help the poorest workers, especially women, in Ethiopia and Uganda. The research involved more than 1,000 person days of field research and generated detailed survey data on 1,700 respondents, as well as evidence from focus groups, repeat surveys, more than 100 life and work history interviews, and a large number of qualitative interviews with cooperative executives, policy makers, Fairtrade representatives, and employers. Read more about the research project.

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Undergraduate Student Profile

Katalin Kovacs

"Previously I just dreamed about SOAS. I had some lectures on Africa while studying Social Anthropology in Hungary, and I discovered that my professor had studied at SOAS. This made me work hard to join SOAS.

To be here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I can develop my academic skills and grow personally. My studies have been exciting and rewarding."

Katalin Kovacs, BA African Studies and Development Studies
Read Katalin's full profile

Contact us

Our Head of Department says:

Laura Hammond

Development Studies is a dynamic, interdisciplinary field concerned with social and economic change and the implications – in policy and practice – of such change. Our department takes a heterodox approach, seeking not only to understand the major drivers of development, but also to critically evaluate them with a view towards informing more just and equitable approaches to development.Many of our staff come from development practitioner backgrounds and this informs what we teach. We are all engaged in field research, which routinely sends us to places where development policies and approaches touch people’s lives in direct ways, and we draw on this experience in the classroom. Wherever I go I always run into our alumni – they are working in development organisations all around the world, from the UN to large and small-scale NGOs; charities to government institutions. They tell me that they regularly draw on the things they learned at SOAS to help them think critically about the work they are doing and how to make it better.   

Choose to come to SOAS and you will not only benefit from a unique degree, you will join a worldwide network of people who are passionate about thinking about and working towards development and equality for all.

Laura Hammond

Championing the human rights of displaced people

A refugee camp in Nepal for people expelled from Burma

SOAS researchers unrivalled expertise in the languages, cultures and histories of the civilisations of SOAS’ regions helps to interpret a complex world. Just one example is SOAS' work on championing the human rights of displaced people. The research of many scholars supports the rights of people displaced by famine and conflict, and through ethnicity, religion, gender or sexuality. Read the full article on championing the human rights of displaced people.

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Postgraduate Student Brief

Joe Buckley

"Deciding to come here will be one of the greatest decisions you ever make. You will find a warm, welcoming second home in the centre of London."

Joe Buckley, MSc Labour, Social Movements and Development
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Forthcoming Events