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Department of Development Studies

BA Development Studies and...

Programme Code: See May be Combined With Duration: Combined Honours - 3 years or 4 years when combined with a Language


2016 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: AAA-AAB
  • IB: 37 (6/6/6)
  • Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAA
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: AAA
  • Irish LC: 360 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
  • Advanced Placement: 4 5 5 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0
  • Euro Bacc: 85%
  • French Bacc: 15/20
  • German Abitur: 1.5
  • Italy DES: 85/100
  • Austria Mat: 1.5
  • Polish Mat: Overall 80% including 3 extended level subjects

Minimum Entry Requirements: Applicants with non-standard qualifications may be invited for interview.

Subjects Preferred: No

This exciting programme offers a challenging, multi-disciplinary exploration of international development, poverty, and economic and social change in non-western countries. Based upon the internationally recognised research expertise of the staff at the Department of Development Studies, the programme gives students the opportunity to explore social, political and economic changes in the developing world. It examines key issues and themes in international development, as well as analysing the roles and impact of a wide variety of formal and informal development actors.

The BA programme in Development Studies is a combined honours degree, allowing students to blend a critical awareness of international development, with a solid grounding in another discipline or subject area. This allows Development Studies students to place the knowledge they gain as part of their degree within a specific regional, cultural or disciplinary context. The ability to combine Development Studies with the range of research, resource and teaching expertise in SOAS in regard to languages and literatures of Africa and Asia, religious studies, anthropology, history, art and archaeology, is unique to SOAS, and gives students an unrivalled range of options to choose from.

Highlights include:

  • Introductions to key issues in international development, such as gender and development; violence and conflict; environment and development; the role of aid and trade in promoting development; refugees and forced migration 
  • Exploring the history of development, and the interaction of changing theories of development with practice and policy 
  • The possibility of undertaking an independent study project, researching a development studies related topic of your own choosing 
  • The opportunity to specialise through a range of options, including HIV/AIDS and Development, Global Forced Migration and Development, Development Practice, NGOs and Development.

See the for a full list of modules, including optional modules.

Please see the Unistats data for the various combinations of this programme under the Combinations tab.


May be combined with

+ 4-year degree with (compulsory) one year abroad
++ 3 or 4-year degree with option of one year abroad
** Taught at King’s College London

Key Information Set data

Click on a combined programme to load KIS data



To be eligible for an Honours degree in BA Development Studies and... degree, 3-year students need to pass at least 11 units with a minimum of 5 units in Development Studies, and 4-year students at least 14 units with a minimum of 8 units in Development Studies. Normally, 1 open option (i.e. a module in a subject or language other than those named in the student’s chosen degree title) may be taken per year, though there are exceptions to allow some flexibility.

The above information refers to those wishing to have Development Studies as the first-named subject of the two-subject degree. The minimum modules requirements will differ for those wishing to have Development Studies as the second-named subject. Guidelines can be found in the Undergraduate Regulations Handbook.

The degree structure below is for students enrolling from September 2015. Current students (enrolled before September 2015) should refer to the previous degree programme structure.

Year One

Students take two core units in Development Studies. The remaining two units may be completed through their other subject and/or open options.

The two remaining units can be taken from the other degree subject

Where a particular degree combination requires students to take 3 core modules in their first year as part of the other department named in the degree, students will be expected to take one DS core module in their first year, and the second module in their second or third year (depending on when they take their year abroad).

Year Two

Students take the core module Comparative Studies on Development. The remaining Development Studies module units may be taken from: One unit or two half units from the Year Two Development Studies options; any Year Two undergraduate Economics or Politics option available to Development Studies; a language of Africa or Asia; any Year Two Geography course run by King's College London. The remaining two units must be taken from the other department named in the degree.

Year Two Development Studies Options
Year Two Geography Courses (KCL)

Refer to the 'BA Geography and...' page, or contact Dr Debby Potts (debby.potts@kcl.ac.uk) at KCL to discuss module choices.

Year Two Economics Options

N.B. 153400003 Introduction to Economic Analysis is a prerequisite for all of the options below.

Year Two Politics Options
Year Three

Students choose two further units in specialist Development Studies options; one unit may be an Independent Study Project or an open option. Students returning from a Year Abroad having taken three language units in the first year must do the first and second year compulsory units in Development Studies in their third year. Please note that final year students may not take any introductory level modules, including languages.

Year Three Development Studies Options
Year Three Geography Courses (KCL)

Refer to the 'BA Geography and...' page, or contact Dr Debby Potts (debby.potts@kcl.ac.uk) at KCL to discuss module choices.

Year Four

Students who have combined Development Studies with a language follow the Year 3 syllabus.

Programme Specification


Teaching & Learning

Year abroad

If Development Studies is combined with Arabic, Bengali,Burmese, Chinese, Hausa, Hindi, Korean, Nepali, Swahili, Tibetan or Turkish


SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.

Teaching & Learning

All courses are taught in lecture format supplemented by weekly group tutorial/seminar sessions. Introductory courses make use of audio-visual teaching materials alongside more conventional lecturing. Assessment is generally through a combination of written examination and coursework. In their final year students have the chance to complete an Independent Study Project, which takes the form of an extended 10 000 word essay supervised by a member of staff.


The Department of Development Studies at SOAS provides innovative and challenging teaching, fosters high-quality research and offers unrivalled regional specialisation and language combinations not found anywhere else in Europe.

An undergraduate Development Studies degree from SOAS will develop your understanding of the world, other peoples’ ways of life and how society is organised, with specific focus on violence and conflict, the role of aid, refugees and forced migration. Skills gained during your degree will transfer well to areas such as human rights, international development and politics. This is in addition to your detailed subject knowledge, which will vary according to the regional and theoretical focus of your degree. Your degree will equip you with a set of specific skills, including: analytical and critical skills; the ability to think laterally and employ critical reasoning; a high level of cultural awareness; and the ability to solve problems. 

Choosing to study a joint degree programme will increase the breadth of your knowledge, and will develop additional skills with which to further your studies. Development studies may be combined with a huge range of other disciplines. For more information on the extra skills you will gain from your second subject, please see the relevant departmental page. Some graduates go on to work in development planning and in government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Other career paths include journalism, the civil service, banking and the social and educational services. Others are interested in specialising further through postgraduate studies, not only in Development Studies, but also in Economics, Politics, Social Anthropology, Law, Geography, History and languages.

Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

BBC World Service
British Council
British Red Cross
Consortium for Street Children
Department for International Development
Ernst & Young
European Commission
Gisha - Legal Centre For Freedom Of Movement
Homeless International
Immigration Advisory Service
Inter-American Development Bank
Ministry of Education Luxembourg
Norwegian Institude of International Affairs
Office of the President of Guyana
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
The Arab-British Centre
The World Bank
Thomson Reuters
UNICEF Ethiopia
Women Of Africa
World Food Programme
Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:
Human Rights Officer
Country Director - Indonesia
Bureau Chief
Head of Advocacy
PR Consultant - Asia Pacific
Governance Adviser
Social Development Specialist
Director of Public Department
Partnership Liaison Officer
Fundraising and Communications Manager
Research Fellow
Financial consultant
Development Policy Officer
Environmental Economist
Relationship Banker - Africa Desk
Archaeological Illustrator
Policy Analyst/Economist

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

SOAS is a unique University that combines both academic excellence and a vibrant, active and innovative student body.

Ingrida Kerusauskaite