SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

MSc Research for International Development

One calendar year (full-time) Two (part-time, daytime only) We recommend that part-time students have between two and a half and three days free in the week to pursue their course of study.

Fees 2017/18

UK/EU fees:
Overseas fees:

Fees for 2017/18 entrants. This is a Band 3 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page

2017 Entry requirements

  • Normally minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in the social sciences, including some economics and/or political economy, and preferably a demonstrable interest in research and research methods. Work and other experience may be taken into account. Each student must attend the Preliminary Mathematics and Statistics module, and attend its exam. The preliminary module runs in September prior to the start of teaching in term one.

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Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

Who is this programme for?:

The degree has been developed to meet the needs of both development practitioners and researchers on international development, including those wishing to pursue an MPhil/PhD in International Development. The programme will suit students with a variety of backgrounds in social sciences, including politics, sociology, economics, and so on. It would also meet the needs of people working, or hoping to work in international agencies, humanitarian organisations, and NGOs. Students with a strong interest in research and research methods will thrive on the MSc distinctive focus on training in research methods.

“Getting to grips with development these days requires the ability to understand grand theory as well as a slew of expert subfields, each with their conceptual languages and real-world power structures.
Pursuing research means justifying one or two of them, or reasoning your way into starting afresh. Whatever happens the battlefield must be surveyed and negotiated and SOAS is an excellent place for this adventure.”
Barbara Harriss-White, Emeritus Professor of Development Studies,
Oxford University

The MSc Research for International Development is a newly established interdisciplinary Taught Masters programme at SOAS, offered jointly by the departments of Economics and Development Studies. This cutting-edge degree is funded and supported by the UK’s ESRC (The Economic and Social Research Council) as part of the Bloomsbury Doctoral Training Centre.

The programme’s unique twenty-week core module Battlefield of Methods: Approaches to International Development equips students with the theoretical background and analytical skills to inquire into the relationship between theory and method in the domain of international development. The module provides students with knowledge about the plurality of methodological approaches in key areas of international development research, and the policy choices and strategies associated with these. The module offers students the opportunity to engage with a selection of methods used in international development research.

"Developmental research is a combination of science and art, resting on sound theoretical knowledge, a capability of handling a variety of methodologies and something that is just as important, a "feel" for the subject. There is no one perfect methodology or set of tools; a good social scientist must appreciate the strengths and limitations of each on offer. Uniquely, this module will equip future developmental explorers with the sophisticated tools. They will have to bring the "feel" themselves."
Guy Standing, Professor of Economic Security University of Bath, UK

Further training in a variety of research methods is the focus of the other two core modules: Research Methods in Political Economy I and II. RMI covers the necessary statistical methods for social sciences including survey design and regression analysis. It aims to a) introduce students to statistical inference; b) encourage the clear and coherent expression of statistical results; and c) promote the critical reading of statistics within the development literature. RMII addresses sources and methods for the social sciences in the context of the political economy of development.

This programme gives students advanced interdisciplinary training in research methods and topics in Research for International Development. While the programme structure emphasises research methods, students will also have the opportunity to choose from a large number of substantive optional modules. The interdisciplinary nature of the programme is by virtue of both the core modules and options available for study being drawn from two departments within SOAS: Economics and Development Studies. Students will therefore benefit from studying with experts in a variety of fields of international development, and from the wide regional expertise in developing countries and development issues. 

SOAS Development Studies student Matthew Juden wins first DSA/ICEA Masters dissertation prize 2015



The course is taken over 1 year (full time) or 2-3 years (part-time). There are three core modules: a year-long core module in research methods entitled ‘Battlefields of Method’, and two half-year modules in research methods - Research Methods in International Development and Statistical Research Techniques in International Development.

Optional modules
Students will choose a maximum of four optional modules (60 credits in total) from those offered between the Department of Development Studies and the Department of Economics. (Please note that economics modules can only be taken with the permission of the specific module convenor and will depend on specific background in economics.)

Students should be aware that not all optional modules may run in a given year. 

Core Courses
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Battlefields of Method: Approaches to International Development Research (MSc RID) 15PDSC008 0.6 Unit Full Year - Module can only be taken as part of the MSc Research for International Development programme
Dissertation in Research Methods for International Development 15PDSC997 1.3 Unit Full Year - Module can only be taken as part of the MSc Research for International Development programme
Statistical Research Techniques in International Development 15PECC052 0.33 Unit Term 2
Research Methods in International Development 15PECC053 0.33 Unit Term 1
Non-Assessed Courses

All MSc students in Development Studies are eligible to attend the one-term , non-assessed module, Economics for Beginners,which introduces students to basic concepts in microeconomics, macroeconomics, development economics, and statistics and econometrics.

Optional Modules
Development Studies Department
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Aid and Development (MSc RID) 15PDSH062 0.33 Unit Term 1 Not Running 2016/2017
Agrarian Development, Food Policy and Rural Poverty (MSc RID) 15PDSH038 0.33 Unit Term 2 - Module can only be taken as part of the MSc Research for International Development programme
Borders and Development (MSc RID) 15PDSH063 0.33 Unit Term 1 Not Running 2016/2017
Development Practice (MSc RID) 15PDSH056 0.33 Unit Term 2
Environment, Governnance and Development (MSc RID) 15PDSH061 0.33 Unit Term 1 Not Running 2016/2017
Extractive Industries, Energy, Biofuels and Development in a Time of Climate Change (MSc RID) 15PDSH047 0.33 Unit Term 2
Famine and Food Security (MSc RID) 15PDSH044 0.33 Unit Term 1 Not Running 2016/2017
Gender and Development (MSc RID) 15PDSH037 0.33 Unit Term 1
Global Commodity Chains, Production Networks and Informal Work (MSc RID) 15PDSH059 0.33 Unit Term 2
Global Health and Development (MSc RID) 15PDSH052 0.33 Unit Term 2
Issues in Forced Migration (MSc RID) 15PDSH064 0.33 Unit Term 2 Not Running 2016/2017
Marxist Political Economy and Global Development (MSc RID) 15PDSH058 0.33 Unit Term 2 Not Running 2016/2017
Migration and Policy (MSc RID) 15PDSH065 0.33 Unit Term 1 Not Running 2016/2017
Neoliberalism, Democracy and Global Development (MSc RID) 15PDSH055 0.33 Unit Term 2
Problems of Development in the Middle East and North Africa (MSc RID) 15PDSH060 0.33 Unit Term 2 Not Running 2016/2017
Natural resources, development and change: putting critical analysis into practice (MSc RID) 15PDSH043 0.33 Unit Term 2
Security (MSc RID) 15PDSH035 0.33 Unit Term 1
Civil Society , Social Movements and the Development Process (MSc RID) 15PDSH036 0.33 Unit Term 2 Not Running 2016/2017
The Working Poor and Development (MSc RID) 15PDSH045 0.33 Unit Term 2 Not Running 2016/2017
Understanding Economic Migration: Theories, Patterns and Policies (MSc RID) 15PDSH042 0.33 Unit Term 2
War to Peace Transitions (MSc RID) 15PDSH046 0.33 Unit Term 2
Water Resources: Justice and Governance (MSc RID) 15PDSH041 0.33 Unit Term 1
Water Resources: Conflict and Governance (MSc RID) 15PDSH040 0.33 Unit Term 2
Economics Department
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
African Economic Development 1 (MSc RID) 15PECC057 0.33 Unit Term 1
African Economic Development 2 (MSc RID) 15PECC058 0.33 Unit Term 2
Economic Development and Financial Systems (MSc RID) 15PECC056 0.33 Unit Term 1
Economic Development in South Asia a) the macroeconomy (MSc RID) 15PECC060 0.33 Unit Term 2
Economic Development in South Asia b) Major sectors and the International Economy (MSc RID) 15PECC061 0.33 Unit Term 2
Economic issues of the Environment and Development (MSc RID) 15PECC055 0.33 Unit Term 2
Macroeconomic theories and techniques (MSc RID) 15PECC062 0.33 Unit Term 2
Microeconomic theory and techniques (MSc RID) 15PECC054 0.33 Unit Term 1
Themes and Approaches in the Political Economy of Institutions (MSc RID) 15PECC059 0.33 Unit Term 2 - Course can only be taken as part of the MSc Research for International Development programme
Centre for Gender Studies
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Gender in the Middle East (MSc RID) 15PGNH004 0.33 Unit Term 1


Important information for 2017/18 applicants

For the 2017 academic year, SOAS has introduced a new academic framework for all of our postgraduate taught courses. The new model will mean that taught programmes are now made up of four units each worth 30 credits – our current structure is based on three units – plus dissertation. This approach is in line with PG programmes in most other universities.

In practice this means that there will be additional choice of modules for students taking PG taught programmes in 2017. The modules set out here represent the options available in the programme in 2016. In most cases, our 2017 programmes will contain these options plus additional modules – broadening the range of what is available on your programme.

Programme Specification


Teaching and Learning


SOAS Library
SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.

Teaching & Learning

Modules are taught in lectures and tutorial groups. Degrees are awarded on the basis of assessed coursework, examinations and the dissertation. Modules are generally assessed on the basis of a final examination (70%) and essay or project based coursework (30%). MSc degrees are taught over a period of twelve months of full-time study within a structured programme. In the case of part-time study, the degrees will be taught over two or three years.


Most modules involve a 1 or 2 hour lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes.


At Masters level there is particular emphasis on tutorial work. Students make full-scale presentations and are expected to write papers that often require significant independent work.


Students are required to complete a 13,000-word dissertation in ‘Research Methods for International Development’.

Preliminary Mathematics and Statistics Course

Our MSc programmes attract students with a wide range of backgrounds including many who have worked for a few years before coming to SOAS. Our popular quantitative modules are designed to be accessible to all of our students including those with a relatively small quantitative component in their first degree. Our well-received quantitative modules focus on applying basic methods used in empirical research. They equip students to carry out their own high quality empirical work and critically evaluate research, with relatively little emphasis on advanced econometric theory and mathematical proofs. Our quantitative methods teaching begins with a three-week preliminary module in mathematics, statistics and computing. Each student must attend this module, and sit its exam. The preliminary module runs in September prior to the start of teaching in term one. The objective of the module is to review the basic quantitative skills assumed once formal teaching commences. This module is compulsory. Further details on the Preliminary Mathematics and Statistics Course.

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Tuition Fees page.

This is a Band 3 tuition fee.

Fees for 2017/18 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. 

Full-timePart-time 2 YearsPart-time 3 Years
£10,995 £18,790 £5,498 £9,395 £3,665 £6,263
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Studentships

Application Deadline: 2017-02-03 16:00

Felix Non- Indian Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2017-01-31 17:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2017-01-31 17:00

John Loiello AFSOAS FISH Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2017-02-22 17:00

Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship

Application Deadline: 2017-02-22 17:00

The Prospect Burma Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2017-02-22 17:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section


A postgraduate degree in Research for International Development from SOAS provides graduates with a portfolio of widely transferable skills sought by employers, including analytical skills, the ability to think  laterally and employ critical reasoning, and knowing how to present materials and ideas effectively both orally and in writing. Equally graduates are able to continue in the field of research, continuing their studies either at SOAS or other institutions. 

An MSc in Research for International Development is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

I had studied in an international school in India that focused a lot on extracurricular activities, and going to SOAS seemed like a natural continuation of my studies.

Mia Eskelund Pedersen


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