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Department of Development Studies

BA Development Studies

Programme Code: L905 BA/DevS Duration: 3 Years


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

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

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.

Click through to view:

What is Development Studies?
What does the BA programme look like?
Taster Lecture: Should we give to charity?


The BA programme in Development Studies is a single honours degree, allowing students to acquire a critical awareness of international development, along with the flexibility to take Open Options in a subject or language in another department at SOAS. 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 Global Health and Development, Global Forced Migration and Development, Development Practice, NGOs and Development.

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


Overview - what does the BA programme look like?

Students take 4 units per year, completing a total of 12 units in 3 years. They have some flexibility in constructing their own programme of study. Students on this programme must take a minimum of 9 named Development Studies course units to qualify for the degree.

As part of the BA Development Studies programme, students will take 5 units of compulsory modules over the first two years. The remainder of the Development Studies modules will be selected from optional modules.

Year One

Students will take 3 core/compulsory module units in development studies, as well as 1 'open option' (this may be a module at SOAS in a subject or language other than those named in the student’s chosen degree title).

Year Two

Students take core/compulsory modules to the value of two units in development studies. They must also take at least one optional module unit within Development Studies. They may then take either another Development Studies optional unit, or can choose an 'open option' from another department.

Year Two Development Studies Options
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 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 Three

Students take Development Studies options to the value of at least 3 units, and can choose as their final module unit an 'open option' from another department.

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.

Programme Specification


Teaching & Learning


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 modules are taught in lecture format supplemented by weekly group tutorial/seminar sessions. Introductory modules 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 has given me the space to ask questions of myself and of my studies which I hadn’t had before, it gives you the academic and ideological freedom to explore your own ideas. This has been really important for me, and changed the way I address challenges and experiences more generally.

Hannah Duncan