SOAS University of London

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)

MSc/PGDip/PGCert in Agricultural Economics

Online and Distance Learning Programme

Duration: MSc/PGDip min. 2 years / PGCert min. 1 year

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment
  • How to Apply


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Minimum Entry Requirements: A good first degree in an appropriate subject area, as accepted by the University of London, and a high level of English language ability in reading and writing and in study skills.

Start of programme: February / May

Mode of Attendance: Distance Learning

This course provides students with the essential tools required for theoretical and empirical economic analysis, particularly in relation to the renewable natural resources sector. It aims to equip students with the rigorous technical skills that are generic to the field of agricultural economics, while maintaining a focus on applications rather than abstract analysis. Students are able to take modules orientated towards development, production, marketing, policy, and economic transition. The course is designed for those who wish to pursue a career as an agricultural economist or to undertake higher studies within this area.

The programme will facilitate the development of:

  • an extended knowledge of contemporary economic theory
  • the skills to analyse problems concerning choice and resource allocation on national and international markets
  • the ability to access and synthesise the relevant economic literature to undertake further research or study in the field of agricultural economics
  • the skills to communicate the results of economic analysis to interested parties


Phone: +44 (0) 20 7898 4050


Agricultural Economics is available as a Master of Science, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate. The table below outlines the programme structure of each level.

Core Elective Research Duration
MSc 4 3* 2 2-5
PGDip 4 4* 2-5
PGCert 3 1* 1-5

* including one free choice from across all programmes (subject to approval on the Programme Convenor)

Core modules
Elective modules
Research component (MSc only)
Strengthening quantitative skills

It is recommended that students whose basic quantitative analysis skills are weak should also take a non-examined module:Quantitative methods (CF04) at or near the start of their studies. Study materials may be obtained from CeDEP’s online learning environment.


Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Academic level

All CeDEP programmes are taught to Master’s (Second Cycle) level, which involves building upon existing knowledge and understanding typically associated with the Bachelor’s (First Cycle) level or its equivalent. Study at Master’s level requires:

  • originality in developing and/or applying ideas, and extending or enhancing previous learning
  • application of knowledge and understanding, including problem solving in new or unfamiliar environments within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts
  • integration of knowledge and handling of complexity
  • formulating judgements with incomplete or limited information, including reflection on social and ethical responsibilities
  • clear and unambiguous communication of conclusions, and the knowledge and rationale underpinning these, to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • learning skills to study in a manner that may be largely self-directed or autonomous.

Prospective students should note that distance education of this kind demands a high degree of commitment, determination and self-discipline. Whilst CeDEP provides significant support through the tutorial system and by other means, students taking on programmes of this nature should possess a strong measure of self-reliance.

Study Expectations

How long will it take?

For students in full time employment, the MSc and Postgraduate Diploma usually take three or four years to complete and the Certificate 2 years.

Master of Science (MSc)
Postgraduate Diploma Postgraduate Certificate
Minimum registration period 2 years 2 years 1 years
Minimum registration period 5 years 5 years 5 years

Below is a recommended progression pathway for those intending to complete an MSc in three years:

1st Year
(February / May)
2nd Year
(February / May)
2nd Year
3rd Year
(February / May)

3 x core modules

1 x core module

Research Methods
1 x elective module

Dissertation 2 x elective modules

Students wishing to register for more than three modules in their first year should satisfy their academic programme convenor that their personal circumstances will allow sufficient study time for this on a weekly basis (e.g. those students not in employment or in part-time employment).

When can I study?

You can begin your studies in either February or May. The examinations for all students are in late September or early October. The study periods are 30 weeks for students starting in February and 15 weeks for those starting in May.

How many hours a week?

For the 30 week study period starting in February, you will need to allocate 5 hours of study time per module, per week. For students starting their studies in May with the shorter 15 week session, 10 hours per module, per week is recommended.


How you will be assessed

The final assessment for each module is a two-hour unseen examination held on a specific date in late September or early October. This exam is worth 80% of your total module mark.

The remaining 20% of your mark is determined by an Examined Assignment. This assignment is submitted during the study year and marked by your tutor. Assignments are submitted to CeDEP electronically via the virtual learning environment.

Examination arrangements

Examinations are held in students’ countries of residence, using the University of London’s network of approved Overseas Examination Authorities. Fees for taking examinations are the responsibility of the student.

Assessment of the Research Component

The Research Component comprises two modules:

  1. Research Methods, and
  2. Dissertation.

Research Methods is assessed through two examined assignments (each worth 50% of the module mark) submitted during the study year.

The Dissertation is assessed through a proposal (worth 20% of the module mark) submitted in February, followed by a 10,000 word dissertation (worth 80% of the module mark) submitted in September.

In order to qualify for an MSc, it is mandatory for CeDEP students to pass the Research Component.

Research Component (MSc students only)

The Dissertation is usually carried out during the final year of registration, once all core modules and the Research Methods module are complete.

The Research Methods module provides skills and techniques which will assist with the subsequent development and conduct of your research and preparation of your Dissertation. Research Methods can only be studied in the February study session. Therefore, if you are intending to complete your MSc in two years, you must register for Research Methods alongside your core modules in February of your first year.

You can apply to study the Dissertation once

  • you have completed all your core modules and Research Methods, or
  • you have submitted all the relevant assignments and exams, and are awaiting results.

 You will be required to submit a short topic form, outlining your initial ideas for your Dissertation research, when you make your application.

The Dissertation involves conducting desk or field-based research in a relevant topic of their choice. All research topics are subject to approval and each student is assigned a personal supervisor. The period between November and February is used for background reading and preparation of the assessed proposal, after which the main research work takes place.



Career prospects for graduates
Typically, graduates of this programme will find work as applied economists in the following fields:

  • government ministries undertaking work in agricultural policy analysis
  • public and private sector companies involved in upstream and downstream agricultural industries
  • international and non-governmental organisations concerned with the economic analysis of agricultural sector issues
  • applied research and teaching in institutions of research and higher education

A Student's Perspective

When I discovered the MSc course in Sustainable Development on the internet I was thrilled because I could study part-time and work, all at the same time. The fact that the degree can be studied over a five year period is excellent especially as I have a very busy schedule.

Caroline Makasa, Zambia


How to Apply

Complete our online application form

Not ready to apply? Take a look at our guides on applying below:

The deadlines for applications are as follows:

Session one Session two
Application deadline 1 November 2017 30 March 2018
Enrolment deadline 30 November 2017 13 April 2018
Session start 5 February 2018 21 May 2018
Session end 30 September 2018 30 September 2018 

Your completed application will be reviewed by a member of academic staff. If your application is successful, we will send you an official offer within ten working days and you will be asked to submit the relevant supporting documentation. Once in receipt of our offer, we recommend submitting your documents immediately.

Supporting documentation for applications

Applicants will be required to provide the following supporting documentation giving evidence of the following:
  • Full name and date of birth
  • Qualifications (including English language proficiency, where required)

For details about the acceptable forms of evidence, along with information about getting your documents verified, please visit the supporting documents page.

It is your responsibility to arrange for all the necessary documentation to be obtained in support of your application. We cannot undertake this on your behalf.

Please note that, if necessary, we reserve the right to verify your qualifications with the relevant awarding body and to request further information from you about your background.

All supporting documentation must be received by the application deadline.

Please send your supporting documents to the following address:

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street
London, WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom