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Department of Development Studies

MSc Violence, Conflict & Development

Duration: One calendar year (full-time). Two years(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.

Start of programme: September intake only

Who is this programme for?:

The Violence, Conflict and Development programme attracts applicants with a variety of academic and working backgrounds. We welcome those who have worked in the field of development and/or conflict, but we also welcome applications from students without relevant work experience who can demonstrate a strong interest in the major themes of the programme and a strong first degree, preferably in a social science.

The degree has been developed to meet the needs of people working, or hoping to work, in international agencies, humanitarian organisations, and NGOs.

As the pioneering programme of its kind internationally, this MSc programme develops detailed empirical knowledge and analytical skills for understanding the complex linkages between violent conflict and development, both historically and today. It enables students to explore these linkages both within specific country and regional contexts and in the context of global interdependencies and the ways these affect peace, war, and non-war violence.

The programme introduces students to competing analytical approaches. It is multi-disciplinary though shaped by a particular interest in political economy. It encourages deep case study knowledge. And it offers students the ability to tailor their choice of optional courses and dissertation research to their own interests.

The MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development draws on the exceptional expertise at SOAS in different disciplinary understanding of development challenges and processes as well as the strong commitment among all teaching staff to area expertise. Staff teaching on this programme are research active and have a range of links to international organisations.

The programme is of interest for development practitioners, activists, and students with a scholarly interest in the patterns of violence internationally, in how violence affects development, and in how the uneven processes of development themselves may both generate violence and generate mechanisms for containing violence.

Highlights include: 
  • Zoe's Blog! A convenor's-eye view of the MSc Violence, Conflict and Development programme
  • Exploration of the long history of theories of human violence 
  • Relationships between violence and long-run historical change
  • The concept of a continuum of violence 
  • The relevance of historical and more recent evidence that the process of structural change involved in ‘development’ is inherently conflictual and often violent 
  • To what extent democratisation is a mechanism for securing perpetual peace 
  • The challenges of understanding gender based violence 
  • Whether abundant natural resources, or high levels of inequality, or clear markers of religious or ethnic difference are clear sources of violent conflict 
  • How highly localised violent conflicts are connected to processes of global economic development
  • The challenges of post-conflict reconstruction and ‘war to peace transitions’ 
  • The role of NGOs in causes of, dynamics of, and responses to conflict 
  • Explaining the prevalence of high levels of non-war violence 
  • Explanations of the political economy of – and alternative perspectives on – terrorism

Students can draw on SOAS's unique expertise to specialise further in particular regions or topics. Please see  Postgraduate courses for details on core and optional courses.

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, Political Economy of Violence, Conflict and Development. They then select one of three ‘development’ courses: Political Economy of Development; Theory, Policy and Practice of Development; or Anthropology of Development. Through these courses, students build their analytical skills and their knowledge of the main issues and debates in Development Studies. A distinctive feature of the core course is that students put together a group case study presentation.

Specialisation

Students also take optional courses (one full unit course or two half-unit courses). 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 Violence, Conflict and Development. Then select either Political Economy of Development or Theory, Policy and Practice of Development or Anthropology 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
Anthropology and Sociology Department
History Department
South Asia Department
Study of Religions

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Materials

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

MSc Violence, Conflict & Development postgraduate students leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek. These include analytical skills, presentation skills, the ability to think laterally and employ critical reasoning, and knowing how to present materials and ideas effectively both orally and in writing. A postgraduate degree 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. Graduates from MsC Violence, Conflict & Development have gone on to work in a range of different organisations, including Development and Human Rights Organisations, and many have continuted in the field of research.

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

ActionAid
Amnesty International
BBC World Service
British Overseas Network for Development NGOs
Department for International Development
Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Finland
European Bank for Reconstruction & Development
Fairtrade International
Foundation Rwanda
Immigration Advisory Service
Institute for Human Development
Institute for Public Policy Research
International Land Coalition (ILC)
Islamic Relief Worldwide
Landmine Action
Mekong Economics Ltd
NATO
Overseas Development Institute
Save the Children
The Climate Group
The Japan Foundation
The World Bank
UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations
UNICEF Libya Response Team
World Health Organization

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

Regional Project Development Intern For Africa
Emergencies Programme Manager
International Mobilisation Coordinator
Development Officer
Broadcasting Journalist
Humanitarian Policy Advisor
East and Central Africa Projects Manager
Horn of Africa Analyst
Global Policy Consultant
Operational Support Officer
Senior Project Manager
Development Economist
Journalist
Defense Policy and Strategy Analyst
Director Counter Extremism and Deradicalization
Political Researcher
International Programmes Officer
Ethical Trade Executive
Education Coordinator
Community Investment Coordinator
Women and Peace building Specialist
Programme Analyst

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

A Student's Perspective

I have learnt Swahili through my degree and eye-opening year abroad and words cannot explain how many doors learning a language can open both here and abroad.

Asia Mohamud