SOAS University of London

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)

MSc/PGDip/PGCert in Poverty Reduction: Policy and Practice (2017/18 entry)

Online and Distance Learning Programme

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

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


Featured events


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: This programme is now closed to new applicants

Mode of Attendance: Online Learning

Within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the eradication of extreme poverty remains a central objective of international development efforts. As with the Millennium Development Goals before them, the SDGs recognise that poverty has multiple dimensions and that progress is needed on a number of fronts (economic, social and political) if poverty is to be effectively tackled.

With a focus on rural areas which, despite growing urbanisation, continue to be home to the majority of the world’s poorest people, this programme examines the complex nature of poverty, its causes, and the processes of poverty reduction.

Recent achievements in poverty reduction have varied widely across and within countries, regions, and social groups, permitting lessons to be learned regarding the policies and conditions conducive to success.

Modules within the programme draw on a range of disciplines relevant to the challenges of poverty reduction, including economics, political economy, social development, management, natural resources management and law. You will complete core modules then choose from one of three specialisms. These examine, respectively, policies to promote inclusive growth, the management of natural resources so as to benefit the poor, and ideas and approaches relating to managing organisations tasked with poverty reduction, within their individual cultural, political and technological contexts

Programme aims

The programme aims to equip students with a multi-disciplinary skill set to analyse and address the poverty reduction challenges of this millennium. A number of modules have significant economics content. Depending on the options chosen, other disciplines drawn upon may include management theory, environmental science, political economy or law.

The programme will give students the opportunity to develop

  • a critical, inter-disciplinary, integrative and global perspective on poverty reduction issues
  • a theoretical approach to intellectual enquiry of poverty reduction issues, which nevertheless emphasises the integration of theory and practice
  • a broad understanding of ideas and approaches for managing organisations within their cultural, political, technological, social, and institutional contexts, to solve problems related to poverty reduction
  • practical issue-oriented research skills, drawing on knowledge and understanding developed in their studies


Phone: +44 (0) 20 7898 4050


Poverty Reduction: Policy and Practice 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 3 4* 2 2-5
PGDip 3 or 4 4 or 5* 2-5
PGCert 3 1* 1-5

* At least 3 from one specialism, plus free choice from all specialisms

Students are advised to consult the module withdrawal schedule for 2018-2022, that is published on the VLE.

Core modules
Elective modules by specialisms
Development Management
      Inclusive Growth
      Natural Resource Management
      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 virtual learning environment.

      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.


      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

      Research Methods

      2 x elective modules

      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?

      The study session begins in February and runs for 30 weeks.

      Examination arrangements

      Due to Covid-19, written exams are currently online take-home format rather than in person at exam centres in your country. Submission is via a separate University of London Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

      The Research Component comprises two modules:

      1. Research Methods
      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
      • 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. 


      As with all Centre for Development, Environment and Policy programmes, the Poverty Reduction programme is designed to assist both existing development professionals and people moving into the field of international development. For the former, the programme offers a chance 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. It is anticipated that most graduates of this programme will find work in:

      • government ministries and other public sector organisations concerned with policy analysis and implementation for poverty reduction
      • international and non-governmental organisations concerned with issues of poverty reduction
      • consultancies and development projects involved in activities promoting poverty reduction

      Particular opportunities may be related to the choice of specialisms in natural resources management, agricultural and rural development, or development management


      How to Apply

      This programme is now closed to new applicants.