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Department of Development Studies

MSc Development Studies

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

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

Subjects Preferred: Social Science

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

Who is this programme for?: The programme attracts applications from students with a variety of academic and experiential backgrounds. We welcome applications from those who have worked in a broad field of development, but also from students without relevant work experience who can demonstrate a strong interest in, and understanding of, development issues. A good first degree in a social science is preferred.

Development Studies is a dynamic field concerned with processes of change in the South - social and economic, political and cultural - and the major policy challenges they present to efforts to overcome poverty and insecurity. This programme provides a solid interdisciplinary social science formation in development theory and practice and develops students’ capacities for independent and critical analysis. 

Highlights include:

  • the meanings of development and the challenges it faces
  • neoliberalism and its critiques
  • industrialisation, labour and capital
  • state failure, poverty and insecurity
  • gender and class analysis
  • NGOs, civil society and social movements
  • globalisation, commodity chains and trade
  • the agrarian question, peasantry and land

The MSc programme’s emphasis on transferable analytical skills has been of great benefit to the many graduates who have returned to, or taken up, professional careers in development in international organisations, government agencies and non-government organisations. 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 MSc Development Studies has four components: two compulsory courses; one full-course option or two half-course options; and a dissertation of 10,000 words. Please see Postgraduate Courses for details on core and optional courses taught within the Department. For a full list of courses offered, please see the Postgraduate Handbook, available on the Development Studies homepage.

Structure

Overview

There are four main components to this degree: three taught courses and a dissertation. All students take two core courses, Political Economy of Development and 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.

Core Courses

All students take both Political Economy of Development and Theory, Policy and Practice of Development. The dissertation is compulsory. 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.

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
Anthropology and Sociology Department
Department of the Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korea
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 from the Department of Development Studies at SOAS will further develop your understanding of the world, other peoples’ ways of life and how society is organised, with an emphasis on transferable analytical skill. These skills have been of great benefit to the many graduates who have taken up professional careers in development in international organisations,
government agencies and non-government organisations. This, in addition to your detailed subject knowledge, will also equip you with a set of other specific skills, including: critical skills; the ability to research extensively; a high level of cultural awareness; and the ability to solve problems.

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

Amnesty International
BBC World Service
British Embassy Brussels
Department for International Development
Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)
Embassy of Japan
Government of Pakistan
Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
International Labour Organization (ILO)
KPMG LLP
National Health and Medical Research Council
Overseas Development Institute
Oxfam
Public Sector Reform Unit - Government of Sierra Leone
Republic of Mozambique National Parliament
Royal Norwegian Embassy
Save the Children UK
The World Bank
Thinking Beyond Borders
U.S. Department of State
UN World Food Programme
UN High Commissioner for Refugees
WaterAid

Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:

Chief Economist
Global Communications Director
Director for Climate Change and Environment
Head of Research and Consultancies
Development Director
Regional OVC programme coordinator
Head of Operations
Country Director
Bureau Chief
Desk Officer on Pakistan Affairs
Policy Analyst
Partnership Liaison Officer
Fundraising and Communications Manager
Development Policy Officer
Environmental Economist
Journalist
Human Rights Officer
Country Director - Indonesia
Relationship Banker - Africa Desk
Policy Analyst/Economist

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

A Student's Perspective

It is truly an international place where you meet people from all around the world, practice foreign languages and broaden your knowledge and perspective on life.

Inger Lise Ellingsen, University of Oslo