[skip to content]

Department of Development Studies

MSc Labour, Social Movements and Development

Duration: One calendar year (full-time) Two (part-time, daytime only) We recommend that part-time students have between two and a half and three days free in the week to pursue their course of study.

Overview

Featured events

Staff Silhouette

Tim Pringle

Convenor

Minimum Entry Requirements: Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent). Relevant work experience may also be considered.

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

Who is this programme for?:

The programme is for students who want to analyse and work on social change for the working poor in developing countries. It is highly relevant to anyone working or intending to work on labour and labour-related social movements in development agencies and NGOs, labour and solidarity movements, corporate social responsibility initiatives, and to activists in both developed and developing countries. We welcome students with a strong background in the social sciences in their first degree, as well as practitioners and professionals working in the areas of development, labour and employment relations, social movements and other related fields.

A unique Programme

This innovative new programme offers students the opportunity to study labour conditions and relations, social movements of labour and their contributions to development processes and changes in the South. It is the first and only MSc programme in the UK dedicated to Labour, Social Movements and Development. It provides a critical examination of the links between labour, capitalism, development and poverty. It investigates labour in contemporary social and economic development of the South as well as classic and newly emerging social movements of labour in local, national and international spaces. Students will also have the opportunity to experience labour campaigns and policy-making in practice by participating in our interactive sessions on designing and implementing international, regional and national labour campaigns and policies. The MSc draws on the expertise of Department of Development Studies staff in labour, social movements and development in Latin America, Africa and Asia, and on our contacts within such movements, as well as with NGOs and international organisations.

The MSc in Labour, Social Movements and Development explores different theories and methods for the study of the working poor in the South, and offers a critical examination of the links between labour, capitalism, development and poverty, and of the role of social movements and international initiatives for labour.

Highlights include:
  • Labour process and organisations: development trajectories and divisions in the South
  • A comparative history of labour and social movements in countries such as China, Korea, India, South Africa, Brazil and the Middle East
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives, codes of conduct and anti-sweatshop campaigning
  • The impact of neoliberalism and globalisation on workers in the South
  • Informalisation of labour, casualization and precarious work
  • Feminisation of labour
  • The worst forms of exploitation: forced labour and child labour
  • Rural labour, migrant labour and labour in Export Processing Zones
  • Household and reproductive labour
  • The International Labour Organisation, international labour standards and decent work
  • Practices and theories of local, national and international labour campaigns.

The unique regional expertise at SOAS allows students of the MSc in Labour, Social Movements and Development to specialise in some of the most dynamic parts of the developing world. The programme’s emphasis on transferable analytical skills will be of great benefit to graduates who return to, or take up, professional careers in international organisations, government agencies and non-governmental organisations and movements. Students also benefit from the wide range of courses on offer, both within the department and across the School, allowing them to create individualised interdisciplinary programmes.

The department has a Labour, Movements and Development research cluster which carries out research activities linked to labour, social movements and development. 

Structure

Overview

There are four main components to this degree: three taught courses and a 10,000 word dissertation. All students take a core course,  Labour, Social Movements and Development. They then select one of two further courses: Political Economy of Development or Theory, Policy and Practice of Development. Through these courses students build their analytical skills and knowledge of the main issues and debates in Development Studies.

Specialisation

Students also take optional courses (one full unit course or two half-unit courses), allowing them to specialise in particular areas of development and potentially to develop a dissertation in a related theme. By tying these to their individual dissertation topic, students design their degree to suit their own interests and career development goals.

Students should be aware that not all optional courses may run in a given year. Courses at other institutions are not part of the approved programme structure.

Core Courses

All students take Labour, Social Movements and Development. Then select either Political Economy of Development or Theory, Policy and Practice of Development. The dissertation is compulsory.

Non-Assessed Courses

All MSc students in Development Studies are eligible to attend the one-term , non-assessed course, Economics for Beginners,which introduces students to basic concepts in microeconomics, macroeconomics, development economics, and statistics and econometrics.

Optional Courses - Development Studies

Students may choose optional courses (one full course or two half courses) from the list below. Please check to ensure that any course in which you have a special interest is running in the year that you wish to study. In addition, access to relevant courses in other departments may be negotiated subject to the agreement of both Convenors.

Open Options in Other Departments
Economics Department
Politics and International Studies Department
School of Law
Study of Religions

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Materials

SOAS Library
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

Courses are taught by a combination of methods, principally lectures, tutorial classes, seminars and supervised individual study projects.

The MSc programme consists of three taught courses (corresponding to three examination papers) and a dissertation.

Lectures

Most courses involve a two hour lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes.

Seminars

At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work. Students make full-scale presentations for each unit that they take, and are expected to write papers that often require significant independent work.

Dissertation

A quarter of the work for the degree is given over to the writing of an adequately researched 10,000-word dissertation. Students are encouraged to take up topics which relate the study of a particular region to a body of theory.

Destinations

A postgraduate degree in Labour, Social Movements and Development from SOAS provides graduates with a portfolio of widely transferable skills sought by employers, including analytical skills, the ability to think laterally and employ critical reasoning, and knowing how to present materials and ideas effectively both orally and in writing. Equally graduates are able to continue in the field of research, continuing their studies either at SOAS or other institutions. 

An MSc in Labour, Social Movements and Development is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.

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

A Student's Perspective

Do not be surprised if you discover that you are drinking coffee with a former Malaysian political prisoner, or sitting in a lecture next to a journalist who reported from Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring. Both have happened to me. Every single person at SOAS has an interesting story to tell, and adds something unique and valuable to our community. So will you.

Joe Buckley