Dissertation in Development Studies

Key information

Start date
End date
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Development Studies

Module overview

A dissertation gives you a unique opportunity to pursue a long-standing or new interest and/or to explore, in some depth, a topic that is relevant to your anticipated career plans.

The 10,000 word dissertation must be submitted by September in the final year of study. Examples of dissertation topics include:

  • Economic policy requirements of conflict resolution and peace maintenance: Rwanda
  • Bargaining for benefits: winners and losers in the international political economy of oil in Nigeria
  • Thailand’s risky business - prostitution, the Hill Tribes and AIDS
  • Approaches to healthcare in the PRC: from barefoot doctor to village doctor
  • Toward a new world disorder: self determination and the break-up of states
  • The Dhabo power project: a case study of foreign investment in India
  • Community-based rehabilitation: an effective approach to disability in developing countries?

Students on the MSc Development Studies pathways, MSc Environment Politics & Development, MSc Globalisation & Development, MSc Humanitarianism, Aid and Conflict, MSc Labour, Social Movements & Development, MSc Migration Mobility & Development, MSc Violence, Conflict & Development should link their dissertations to the themes and concerns of the core module in these programmes.  By linking their dissertation topic with their optional modules, students on the MSc Development Studies (non-pathway), can focus half of their work on the MSc to their own particular interests, whether disciplinary, geographic or thematic in focus.

There is also ample scope for developing such special interests by taking advantage of the rich calendar of regular seminars and special lectures at SOAS, organised by all the School’s departments and centres.

The topic is chosen by the student, with the aid of tutors, during the second term of the academic year.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module


On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate their substantial understanding of a key issue, topic or theme relating to Development Studies;
  • Organize their ideas in response to theoretical and empirical material and plan, develop and present a written argument in relation to this;
  • Show their ability to effectively gather, manage, synthesize and employ relevant data in support of their written argument;
  • Demonstrate their capacity to work independently under the guidance of an academic supervisor;
  • Show that they have followed good academic research practice and have achieved a good level of competence in academic writing.




Learning will be largely autonomous and independent.


Method of assessment


100% coursework. Each student will be expected to submit one essay of no more than 10,000 words. Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.



Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules