SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

MSc Research for International Development (2021 entry)

Select year of entry: 2022 2021

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment

Overview

“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

Overview and entry requirements

The MSc Research for International Development is a cutting-edge degree funded and supported by the UK’s ESRC (The Economic and Social Research Council) as part of the Bloomsbury Doctoral Training Centre.

The programme equips students with the theoretical background and analytical skills to inquire into the relationship between theory, research methods and politics in international development.

Our academic staff provide 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.

See Department of Development Studies

"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

Why study MSc Research for International Development at SOAS

  • we are ranked number 5 in the QS World University Rankings in the subject of Development Studies
  • SOAS is ranked in the top 5 universities in the UK for producing a CEO or Managing Director, according to new research
  • two of the three core modules focus on the research methods. The first, Fundamentals of Research Methods for Development Studies, reviews the main research designs and techniques used in development research. The module explores both the use of secondary sources (text, numbers, images, audio, etc.) and the process of collecting primary empirical materials for analysis. The course addresses the dichotomy quantitative-qualitative in social research methodology, the key differences between the two approaches and the potential for complementarity.
  • the second core model, Statistical Research Techniques in International Development, 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. Students without prior training in statistics and maths are advise to either audit or choose Introductory Statistics as one of their optional modules.
  • the two core courses above give students advanced interdisciplinary training in research methods. The third core module, for which students can choose either Political Economy of Development or Theory, Policy and Practice of Development, grounds students in the key topics, and the analytical and policy debates surrounding them, in international development.

Students further engage with international development debates through their choice of four optional modules, from a large number of available options available from SOAS departments of 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.

Explore 

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September intake only

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.

Entry requirements

  • We will consider all applications with 2:ii (or international equivalent) or higher. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application including supporting statement and references.

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duration:
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.

Convenors

Structure

Structure

Students must take 180 credits per year comprised of 120 taught credits (including core, compulsory and optional modules) and a 60 credit dissertation.

Core modules: A core module is required for the degree programme, so must always be taken and passed before you move on to the next year of your programme.

Compulsory modules: A compulsory module is required for the degree programme, so must always be taken, and if necessary can be passed by re-taking it alongside the next year of your programme.

Optional modules: These are designed to help students design their own intellectual journey while maintaining a strong grasp of the fundamentals.

Dissertation
Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in Research Methods for International Development 15PDSC997 60 Full Year
Core Modules
Module Code Credits Term
Statistical Research Techniques in International Development 15PECC052 15 Term 2
Fundamentals of research methods for Development Studies 15PDSH017 15 Term 1

Students also take ONE of the following: 

Module Code Credits Term
Theory, policy and practice of development 15PDSC001 30 Full Year
Political Economy of Development 15PDSC002 30 Full Year
Optional Modules

Choose modules to the value of 60 credits from the list below:

List of modules (subject to availability)
Development Studies
Module Code Credits Term
Aid and Development 15PDSH027 15 Term 2
Agrarian Development, Food Policy and Rural Poverty 15PDSH026 15 Term 2
Borders and Development 15PDSH023 15 Term 1
Cities and Development 15PDSH072 15 Term 2
Civil society, social movements and the development process 15PDSH001 15 Term 2
Contemporary India: development challenges and perspectives 15PAIC003 15 Term 1
Development Practice 15PDSH013 15 Term 1
Environment, Governance and Development 15PDSH050 15 Term 2
Energy Transition, Nature, and Development in a Time of Climate Change 15PDSH048 15 Term 2
Famine and food security 15PDSH022 15 Term 2
Feminist Political Economy and Global Development 15PDSH073 15 Term 2
Gender and Development 15PDSH010 15 Term 1
Global Approaches to Peace 15PDSH074 15 Term 2
Global Commodity Chains, Production Networks and Informal Work 15PDSH024 15 Term 1
Global Health and Development 15PDSH051 15 Term 1
Issues in Forced Migration 15PDSH015 15 Term 2
Marxist Political Economy and Global Development 15PDSH053 15 Term 2
Migration and Policy 15PDSH029 15 Term 1
Neoliberalism, Democracy and Global Development 15PDSH054 15 Term 2
Problems of Development in the Middle East and North Africa 15PDSH019 15 Term 2
Natural resources, development and change: putting critical analysis into practice 15PDSH031 15 Term 2
Security 15PDSH020 15 Term 1
The Working Poor and Development 15PDSH030 15 Term 2
Labour, Activism and Global Development 15PDSH032 15 Term 2
War to Peace Transitions 15PDSH018 15 Term 2
Water and Development: Commodification, Ecology and Globalisation (Development Studies) 15PDSH049 15 Term 2
Water Justice: Rights, Access and Movements (Development Studies) 15PDSH041 15 Term 1
Economics

Students need to get approval from the Module Convenor in order to take modules from the list below

Module Code Credits Term
African Economies 1: Applied Microeconomic Analysis 15PECC024
Political Economy of Development and Change in the Middle East 15PECC028 15 Term 1
Topics in the Political Economy of Contemporary Middle East 15PECC029 15 Term 2
Economic development in the Asia Pacific region 15PECC030 15 Term 2
China and World Development 15PECH023 15 Term 1
Topics in the Political Economy of Contemporary South Asia 15PECC027 15 Term 2
Economic Development of Japan 15PECH025 15 Term 1
Economics of Environment and Development 15PECC048 15 Term 1
Financial Systems and Economic Development 15PECC036 15 Term 1
Gender Economics (PG) 15PECH026 15 Term 1
Global Economic Policy Analysis 15PECC063 15 Term 2
Global Production and Industrial Policy 15PECH027 15 Term 1
Green Finance 15PECH030 15 Term 2
History of Economic Analysis 15PECH006 15 Term 1
Institutions and Governance 15PECC064 1.0
Limits to Growth? (PG) 15PECH029 15 Term 2
Macroeconomics 15PECC005 15 Term 1
Microeconomics 15PECC006 15 Term 1
Theory Of Financial Institutions & Policy 15PECC021
Introductory Statistics 15PECH032 15 Term 1
Gender Studies
Module Code Credits Term
Gender, Protest, and Revolution in the Middle East 15PGNH001 15 Term 1

 

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

Our teaching and learning approach is designed to support and encourage students in their own process of self-learning, and to develop their own ideas, responses and critique of international development practice and policy.

We do this through a mixture of lectures, and more student-centred learning approaches (including tutorials and seminars). Teaching combines innovative use of audio-visual materials, practical exercises, group discussions, and weekly guided reading and discussions, as well as conventional lecturing.

Dissertation

In addition to the taught part of the masters programme, all students will write a 10,000 word dissertation. Students develop their research topic under the guidance and supervision of an academic member of the Department. Students are encouraged to explore a particular body of theory or an academic debate relevant to their programme through a focus on a particular region.

Contact hours

All Masters programmes consist of 180 credits, made up of taught modules of 30 or 15 credits, taught over 10 or 20 weeks, and a dissertation of 60 credits. The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.

As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study, including reading and research, preparing coursework, revising for examinations and so on. It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others. At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week, but this does vary.

More information is on the page for each module.

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.

Pre Entry Reading

  • Kuhn, T. S. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago: University of Chicago Press    
  • Fine, B., D. Johnston, A. Santos and E. Van Waeyenberge (2015). “Nudging or Fudging: The World Development Report 2015”, Development and Change, 47(4): 640–663.
  • Oya, C. (2013), ‘Methodological reflections on land 'grab' databases and the land 'grab' literature “rush”’. Journal of Peasant Studies, 40(3): 503-520.
  • Rizzo, M., Kilama, B., and Wuyts, M. 2015. ‘The Invisibility of Wage Employment in Statistics on the Informal Economy in Africa: Causes and Consequences’. The Journal of Development Studies 51: pp. 149-161.
  • Sayer, A. 1984. Method in social science: A realist approach. London: Hutchinson.
  • Schmidt, Anna 2007 ‘I Know What You’re Doing’, Reflexivity and Methods In Refugee Studies’  in Refugee Survey Quarterly, Vol. 26, Issue 3
  • Sumner, A. and M.Tribe. 2008. International Development Studies. Theories and Methods in Research Practice. London: Sage.   
  • Vlassenroot, K (2006) ‘War and Social Research. The limits of empirical methodologies in war-torn environments’, Civilisations 54, pp 191-198. 

Employment

Employment

Development Studies graduates leave SOAS with a solid grounding in statistical skills and an ability to think laterally, take a global perspective, and employ critical reasoning.

Careers

SOAS Development Studies graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

  • Deloitte
  • NHS England
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • HSBC
  • National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi
  • University of Bayreuth
  • HM Treasury
  • Department for International Development
  • PwC
  • UNDP
  • King’s Investment Fund
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • The World Bank
  • EY
  • British Chamber of Commerce
  • Department For Communities And Local Government
  • European Commission
  • Federation of the Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry
  • Institute for Social and Economic Studies (IESE)
    International Climate Change Economics

Roles

SOAS graduates gain roles including: 

  • Policy Officer
  • Research Officer
  • Union Organiser
  • Community Organiser
  • CEO, Digital and Communications Officer
  • Junior Technical Officer
  • Child Protection Social Worker
  • Analyst
  • Operations Manager 
  • Photographer
  • Consultant

Visit SOAS Careers Service

A Student's Perspective

The Department of Development Studies here is a microcosm for all that is special about SOAS. The critical political economy perspective taken to the many vexed questions of development will give you a way of seeing the world that challenges mainstream thinking.

Jo Tomkinson

Find out more