Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
Who is this programme for?: The programme attracts applications from students with a variety of academic and experiential backgrounds. We welcome applications from those who have worked in a broad field of development, but also from students without relevant work experience who can demonstrate a strong interest in, and understanding of, development issues. A good first degree in a social science is preferred.
Development Studies is a dynamic field concerned with processes of change in the South - social and economic, political and cultural - and the major policy challenges they present to efforts to overcome poverty and insecurity. This programme provides a solid interdisciplinary social science formation in development theory and practice and develops students’ capacities for independent and critical analysis.
- the meanings of development and the challenges it faces
- neoliberalism and its critiques
- industrialisation, labour and capital
- state failure, poverty and insecurity
- gender and class analysis
- NGOs, civil society and social movements
- globalisation, commodity chains and trade
- the agrarian question, peasantry and land
The MSc programme’s emphasis on transferable analytical skills has been of great benefit to the many graduates who have returned to, or taken up, professional careers in development in international organisations, government agencies and non-government organisations. Students also benefit from the wide range of modules on offer, both within the Department and across the School, allowing them to create individualised interdisciplinary programmes.
Students must take 180 credits comprised of 120 taught credits (including core and option modules) and a 60 credit dissertation.
All students take core modules, ‘Political Economy of Development’, ‘Theory, Policy & Practice’ and a ‘Dissertation in Development Studies’. Through these modules, students build their analytical skills and knowledge of the main issues and debates in Development Studies.
Students also take option modules, allowing them to specialise in particular areas of development and possibly using them to develop a dissertation in a related theme. By tying optional modules to their individual dissertation topic, students tailor their degree to suit their own interests and career development goals.
Please note that not all option modules may run every year. Modules at other institutions (intercollegiate) are not part of the approved programme structure.
Students can take this programme part-time over 2 or 3 years. Students usually complete their core modules in Year 1 and their option modules and dissertation in subsequent years.
All students must take the following two core modules
- Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from the Development Studies modules list below
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.
List of Development Studies modules (subject to availability)
This is the structure for applicants for the year shown above
If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page, on Moodle or through your Department.
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
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.
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.
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.
Pre Entry Reading
In addition, please familiarise yourself with some key words and names, including: Boserup, colonialism, de-growth, dependency theory, Eurocentrism, Fanon, Foucault, Gramsci, Gandhi, governmentality, neoliberalism, Ostrom, orientalism, PRSPs, Putnam, rational actor, sustainable development goals, Wallerstein, World Bank.
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 2019/20 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year.
||Part-time 2 Years
||Part-time 3 Years
For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section
A postgraduate degree from the Department of Development Studies at SOAS will further develop your understanding of the world, other peoples’ ways of life and how society is organised, with an emphasis on transferable analytical skill. These skills have been of great benefit to the many graduates who have taken up professional careers in development in international organisations, government agencies and non-government organisations. This, in addition to your detailed subject knowledge, will also equip you with a set of other specific skills, including: critical skills; the ability to research extensively; a high level of cultural awareness; and the ability to solve problems.
Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:
BBC World Service
British Embassy Brussels
Department for International Development
Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)
Embassy of Japan
Government of Pakistan
Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
International Labour Organization (ILO)
National Health and Medical Research Council
|Overseas Development Institute
Public Sector Reform Unit - Government of Sierra Leone
Republic of Mozambique National Parliament
Royal Norwegian Embassy
Save the Children UK
The World Bank
Thinking Beyond Borders
U.S. Department of State
UN World Food Programme
UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:
Global Communications Director
Director for Climate Change and Environment
Head of Research and Consultancies
Regional OVC programme coordinator
Head of Operations
Desk Officer on Pakistan Affairs
Partnership Liaison Officer
Fundraising and Communications Manager
Development Policy Officer
Human Rights Officer
Country Director - Indonesia
Relationship Banker - Africa Desk
For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.
A Student's Perspective
Prior to undertaking the MSc in Development Studies at SOAS, I worked at a private sector organisation as a consultant and researcher.