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NGOs and Social Movements: The Politics of Protest and Change


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Mode of Attendance: Full-time


Session 3: 27 July- 14 August 2015

Programme Description 

This course provides a critical introduction to NGOs, the nature and impact of social protest, how they have interacted and influenced each other, and how they have globalised. It questions the perception that NGOs offer an alternative to state-led or top-down development models, considers the concept and the use of humanitarian intervention in diverse contexts and explores the extent to which social movements are posing a challenge to neoliberalism. It examines both the theoretical basis for NGO and social movement strategies for social change as well as their practical implications, and draws on a number of case studies, exploring what kind of development and change is possible.

The massive expansion of the NGO sector around the world since the 1980s is widely recognised. At the same time, the emergence of neoliberalism has directed the shift from public to private sector-led development, including the privatisation of aid. NGOs have been a vital part of this shift, with increasingly significant roles in mainstream development processes and increased access to state funds. The rise of NGOs into a veritable global industry has been matched by a diversification in the types of roles NGOs play in society. In addition to delivering relief and promoting social and economic development, NGOs have increasingly taken part in broader governance, democratisation and peacebuilding efforts.

Students will conduct field research by participating in a protest or demonstration and undertaking a short practical exercise, either a photo essay or short video, which they will present to their classmates on the last day. There will also be various film screenings, followed by debate and discussion as well as guest lecturers, who will share different aspects of the challenges of NGOs and social movements, from a professional perspective.



A tuition fee of £1400 will be charged per 3 week programme. This figure does not include accommodation fees.


An early bird discount of 10% is available if fees are paid by 31 March 2015.

15% discount for SOAS Alumni.
20% discount for current SOAS students.
Other discounts are available for partner institutions and groups, please contact us for further information.

Application fee

A one-off, non-refundable application fee of £60 will be charged to cover administration costs. Please visit the SOAS online store to make your application fee payment. 


A limited number of rooms will be available at International Hall which is located in the heart of Bloomsbury. The cost for 20 nights is £870 (breakfast included) for a single room with shared bathroom*. To reserve a place through SOAS, please tick the relevant box in the application form. 

*(If you would like a different type of room, please book with International Hall directly)


Please note that summer courses are not accredited by SOAS.

Students are usually able to obtain credits from their home institution and typically our courses receive 3 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to claim credits from your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you enrol. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to award credits rests with your home institution.

Assessment will be optional and will vary for each course. Participants will be provided with a certificate of attendance and transcripts will be available on request.

Social Programme 

You will also be able to enjoy our social programme, starting with a welcome party and an optional river cruise on the Thames for a small additional charge. Details about how to book will be communicated to you once you are registered. You will also receive discount codes for day trips and overnight tours with our partner International Friends.


For more information, please fill out our enquiry form


The course will be delivered Monday - Friday over the 3 weeks.

Contact time: 46 hours (lectures, tutorials, activities) 

Week 1: NGOs, social movements and development

  • Neoliberal development and the resurgence of NGOs
  • Social movements, states and civil society
  • Contemporary protest and the question of democracy

Week 2: The role of NGOs in humanitarian crises

  • NGOs and the new humanitarianism
  • Crisis, war and humanitarian intervention
  • The liberal peace and its discontents

Week 3: The politics of protest and change

  • NGOs, social movements and the left
  • The urban and the right to the city
  • NGOs, social movements and labour organising
  • What kind of social change?

Assessment: is optional and will be in the form of a 2000-2500 word essay to be handed in 2 weeks after the end of the course.

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  •  A critical understanding of the key theoretical debates on NGOs, including an understanding of the various roles both international and national NGOs play in processes of development and social change.
  •  An understanding of the relationships between NGOs and a range of other development actors, and knowledge of how these relationships have evolved.
  •  A capacity to identify, understand and critique a range of theoretical approaches for understanding contemporary development NGOs and apply these approaches to practical case studies of NGOs.

How to Apply

In order to join our Summer School, you will need to meet the following entry requirements:

  • Participants have to be 18 or over at the time of attendance.
  • A minimum English language requirement if English is not your first language:
    • IELTS, 6.5 overall or higher, with at least 6 in all subscores.
    • TOEFL Paper based test we require a minimum of 583 with minimum 53 in all skills and for TOEFL Internet Based Test we require a minimum of 93 with minimum 20 in all skills. 
    • Pearson Test of English a score of 59-64
    • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Grade B
    • If you have studied in an English speaking institution, or have courses taught at your university in English (excluding English language courses) you may meet our requirements without having to supply a certificate. Evidence of this will either need to be included on a transcript or letter from your university.
    • Applicants with an alternative qualification should contact us for advice.
    • Applicants whose English language level do not meet out requirements may be interested in our subject based courses with English language support.

Apply Now

Extended Deadline on selected courses only:
21 June (for session 1&2)
12 July (for session 3)

A Student's Perspective

I have had the chance to read the most up to date, often controversial and revealing perspectives on South Asia, presented by leading academics who will often actually be members of the South Asia Department Faculty itself. My choice to study at SOAS was the best decision I ever made; being a student here is an exciting and unique experience.

Mikaela Parrack