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Department of Politics and International Studies

MSc State, Society and Development

Duration: May be taken full-time over one year, or part-time over two or three years.

Overview

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Minimum Entry Requirements: The qualification for entry is normally a first or upper-second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Politics or International Relations, or a related social science discipline. Applicants without such a background may be considered for admission depending on their academic training and undergraduate performance.

Start of programme: September intake only

This MSc programme seeks to explain state-society relations and development in Asia, Africa and (where appropriate) Latin America through the sub-disciplines of comparative political sociology and comparative/international political economy. Students will study the core concepts of these sub-disciplines such as: state; civil society; social closure; class; bureaucracy; patrimonialism; hegemony; late-industrialisation; product cycle; developmental state; rent-seeking; good governance; and globalization. They will also be exposed to the principal analytical perspectives of political science such as historical institutionalism, rational choice theory and Marxism. These intellectual foundations will enable students to gain a better understanding of the shaping factors behind phenomena such as: state collapse and criminalisation in Africa; cronyism in Southeast Asia and Latin America; religious fundamentalism in South Asia; economic take-off in East Asia; linguistic nationalism in Central Asia; the ‘third wave’ of democratisation; global financial instability; and the relationship between the Washington Institutions and the South. Students will also come to understand the usefulness of cross-regional comparison by seeing how the study of one region can illuminate similar issues elsewhere, despite differing cultural contexts.

Structure

Students take taught courses to the value of 3 full units + dissertation:

1. ONE or TWO units from A;
2-3. ONE or TWO units (or equivalent half-units) from B and/or C;
4. Dissertation on some aspect of State & Development or State & Society (compulsory) from D.

A. ONE or TWO of the following DISCIPLINARY Politics Courses:
B. ONE or TWO of the following REGIONAL Politics Courses:
C: ONE or TWO of the following DISCIPLINARY optional courses
D: Dissertation

Following the DISCIPLINARY perspective (State and Development or State and Society) of the chosen pathway.

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

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 50-minute 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.

Learning Resources

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.

A Student's Perspective

SOAS is renowned worldwide for its academic excellence and friendly atmosphere, as well as its focus on Asia, Africa and Middle East. Given my passion for development in Africa and the regional focus of my studies, there was only one place that could offer me what I wanted – and that is SOAS.

Osman Diallo