SOAS University of London

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)

MSc/PGDip/PGCert Climate Change and Development (2019 entry)

Distance Learning Programme

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
  • Employment
  • Apply


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

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.

Featured events

Start of programme: October / April

Mode of Attendance: Online Learning

It is now recognised that the level of greenhouse gas emissions that have already accumulated in the atmosphere means some climate change is inevitable, meaning that effectiveness in dealing with climate impacts is critical for the prospects of development. Climate change is the foremost challenge of the 21st century and is now being prioritised by governments, donor/development agencies and NGOs around the world. As such, the people working in them need a thorough grounding in the conceptual and practical dimensions both of adaptation to and mitigation of climate change, as well as the interlinkages between them.

The Climate Change and Development programme is designed to meet these needs so that organisations can be more effective in their efforts towards change. The modules in this programme draw from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, concepts and methods including economics, environmental science, human geography, social development, political economy and environmental law. The programmes cover key issues within climate change and development such as gender, social justice, energy access, poverty and social protection.

The core aims of this programme are to:

  • Offer critical insight into how current development models produce environmental problems, like (but not limited to) climate change, which themselves threaten the objectives of development
  • Pose the question of what magnitude of change is required to confront the problems of climate change: do we need reform or revolution?
  • Help you develop the analytical skills to solve adaptation problems and identify low carbon development options
  • Contribute to producing the next generation of environment and development professionals working on climate policy and practice
  • Provide the most academically gifted students with a route into PhD studies on climate change and development.

Click here to view a recording of our recent online information session.


Phone: 44 (0) 20 7898 4050



Climate Change and Development is available as a Master of Science, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.

Modules will be completed one at a time, over a 16 week study session. Study sessions occur twice a year, beginning in April and October.

Programme structures*

MSc: four modules, comprising one core (30 credits), at least one elective module (30 credits each) from list A and up to two elective modules (30 credits each) from list B below. You will also be required to complete a dissertation (60 credits). In a typical two-year MSc programme cycle, the dissertation is completed in four eight week stages. These stages take place in between the normal study sessions, but study in term time is also permitted.

PGDip: four modules, as per the requirements for MSc students, but will not be required to complete a dissertation (thereby gaining 120 credits in total).

PGCert: one core module and one module from List A.

*Programmes must be completed with the registration period.
Module schedule
Module type Module name Apr '19 Oct '19 Apr '20 Oct '20


Climate Change and Development (30 credits)

List A

(choose 1-3 modules)

Climate Change Adaptation (30 credits) X X
Low Carbon Development (30 credits) X X
Energy and Development (30 credits) X X

 List B

(choose 0-2 modules)

Food Security and Social Protection (30 credits) X X
Gender and Social Inequality (30 credits) TBC
Global Environmental Change and Sustainability (30 credits) X X
Understanding Poverty (30 credits) X X
Urban Sustainability (30 credits) X X
Water and Land Management for Sustainable Development (30 credits) X X

Additional List B modules will be offered through other SOAS programmes. The first two modules to be offered in this way will be Global Public Policy and Human and Critical Security. It is our intention to expand the number of additional List B modules over time.

Sample two-year MSc schedule

The schedule below shows how your MSc will progress over two years, through the completion of four x 16 week subject modules and four x 8 week dissertation sessions. Each year consists of two sessions. The first session starts in mid October, and the second starts in mid April.

Study schedule circle Image

Registration period

Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma and MSc Students are registered for a maximum of five years, as per the University of London International Programme Regulations. If a student upgrades from a PG Certificate to PG Diploma or PG Diploma to MSc the five year registration period will apply from the date the students commences study on the first programmes.

Programme Specification

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

This programme is taught 100% online through our VLE. In the VLE you will have access to learning materials and module resources anytime so you can fit your studies around your existing commitments. For each module, students will be provided with access, through the online Library, to all necessary materials from a range of appropriate sources.

Developed by subject experts, the module materials are designed to meet all your study requirements. We encourage you to follow up further interests and explore other information more widely, but the material we provide is comprehensive and sufficient for the required elements of each module.

The details will vary from module to module, but a typical set of materials will include:

  1. A detailed study guide:
    • All of our modules use a core text which is specially written and this will take you through your self-directed study. Exercises, assignments and other activities, such as self-assessment questions, film clips and animations are included to help you with learning.
  2. E-books and key readings
    • Most modules also draw upon textbooks, key extracts and articles, which accompany the core text, to be accessed via the online library. A wide range of sources are provided as required readings. Information is also supplied suggesting sources of further reading as well as links to relevant web pages.
  3. Supplementary study materials
    • These are included where appropriate, and include items such as computer software.

Each module has a dedicated tutor who is a subject specialist. The tutor will guide the students through the units of the module and prepare them for the examination, using the module discussion forum and other learning activities, depending on the module, on the virtual learning environment. Tutors are also in email contact with their students.

When can I study?

You can begin your studies in April or October. Students take one module per study session. Study sessions are 16 weeks in duration.

How many hours a week?

Each module runs over a 16-week study term, and we recommend studying, on average, 15 hours per week during this time. These hours can be broken down into three main tasks:

Reading the unit materials and key readings on each of the 15 topics covered in the unit

Preparing for and submitting the written assignment, worth 40–50% of the module mark

Contributing to online discussion and activities.

Additional time is then required for exam revision, which happens after the 16-week study term is completed.


Each module will be assessed on one written assignment (40–50 % of the module mark), a hand-written examination (40–50 % of the module mark), and in some modules, online participation in regular learning and discussion exercises (10–20% of the module mark).

Dissertation (MSc students only)

Dissertation involves desk-based and/or field-based research.

In the breaks between terms one and two of a typical two-year MSc programme, there is dedicated time to work on the dissertation. In year one, you will learn how to conduct original research and acquire the methods you need to go about doing it. In the first year, you will be required to produce:

  • a topic form, on the basis of which a supervisor will be allocated
  • an assessed proposal, an elaborated plan of proposed topic, based on learning done around research gaps, questions, research design, methods and data analysis, along with input from the supervisor.

In year two, you will move to the data collection stage and follow this up with the analysis and write-up to be undertaken, as in year one, mostly within the 8-week breaks between the two study terms. Your dissertation is assessed through two components: the assessed proposal (20% of the final module mark); and the 10,000-word dissertation (80% of the final module mark).

Fees and funding

Programme level MSc PGDip PGCert
Fee £9,500 £7,600 £3,800
Pay as you Learn

Our distance learning programmes can be paid in full at the time of enrolment or on a pay as you learn basis. Pay as you learn means you only pay for the module you are enrolling on. You will make one payment of £1900 for each module you enroll on. MSc students will make four additional payments of £475, totalling £1900 for the dissertation.

Whilst our fees cover the majority of your costs of studying at CeDEP, you will incur additional examination costs for fees payable directly to the local centre where you choose to sit your your exams. View the local centres in your area.

Postgraduate loans

If you have been a resident in England for 3 years you may be eligible for a postgraduate loan. Find out more about fees and finance options.


There are a number of postgraduate scholarships available for SOAS students. We also recommend students approach their local British Council, British High Commission or British Embassy, for information on local funding.

Dependent on nationality, employment circumstances and other factors, funding and sponsorship sources can include:

  • United Nations (UNESCO, FAO, UNDP, UNEP etc)
  • Bilateral Aid Agencies (SIDA, GTZ, etc)
  • European Union
  • British Council
  • UK Department for International Development / Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • NGOs
  • Educational and other charitable trusts


This programme is designed to assist both existing professionals working within environment and development spheres, and people moving into these fields.

For existing professionals, the programme provides the opportunity to upgrade and update their expertise, and to reflect systematically and in depth on their accumulated experience in the light of up-to-date theory and literature.

Graduates of Climate Change and Development will be prepared for roles in the public sector, international organisations, NGO's, consultancies and development projects involved in:

  • policy analysis and implementation for disaster risk reduction
  • climate and broader environmental issues
  • local and national climate change strategies
  • energy and development
  • poverty reduction.

You will also be prepared for roles within social enterprise and corporate social responsibility organisations and departments whose area of focus encompasses environment and development.

A Student's Perspective

I researched many online programs in US, Canada, and UK, but I found that the SOAS CeDEP Master of Science is the one that suited my needs best, in terms of quality, content, flexibility and finances.

Luminita Cuna


Find out more

  • Contact us
    By phone:
    +44 (0)20 7898 4098
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  • Apply

    CeDEP distance learning applications should be made through our online application form.

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