Programme Code: PGTF0039/PGTP0059/PGTP0060
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 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, environment-development issues. A good first degree in a social science is preferred.
This programme takes a critical political ecology frame and examines environmental policy and its intersections with development from a social justice angle. It is taught and convened by leading political ecologists and offers a critical analysis of key issues including water, forestry, climate, fisheries, agricultural production, biodiversity, conflicts and energy supply.
The masters asks important questions including:
- How does the environment intersect with global poverty, wealth and questions of inequality?
- Can Carbon trading offer a solution to managing climate change?
- How does access to water intersect with dynamics of wealth and poverty?
- Is wildlife conservation implicated in social injustices?
- What role can and do environmental movements play in development?
- Is there a link between environmental change and violent conflict?
- What is the political ecology of forests?
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.
Students also take option modules, allowing them to specialise in particular areas of environment, politics and 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
Students take one of the following four core modules
All students take modules to the value of 30 credits from the list of Development Studies guided option modules below
Students will the final 30 credits take from EITHER
Modules to the value of 30 credits from the list of Development Studies guided option modules below
Modules to the value of 30 credits from the open option module list from another department
OR a combination of
A 15 credit module from the list of Development Studies guided option modules below
A 15 credit module from the open option module list from another department
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)
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
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 1.5 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
- Newsham, Andrew and Shonil Bhagwat (2016), Conservation and Development. Abingdon: Routledge, 412pp. https://www.routledge.com/products/9780415687812
- Robbins, P. (2012) Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction (Wiley-Blackwell, second edition)
- Death, C. (ed) (2014) Critical Environmental Politics (Routledge)
- Bryant, R. (2015) The International Handbook of Political Ecology (Edward Elgar)
Fees and funding
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
An MSc Environment, Politics & 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 Environment, Politics & 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.
At the same time, the MSc provides the opportunity to take a step back and engage in critical reflection on working in the environment and development sector. Interventions led by even the most well-meaning government, civil society or private sector actors can have (well-documented) unintended, sometimes adverse, consequences for the very people they are intended to benefit. Understanding how this might happen is key to learning how interventions might avoid these problems, and what kinds of intervention you would (not) wish to be part of in a professional capacity. Organisations working in this sector, moreover, might in some cases support underlying visions of development – establishing conditions for free markets, including the construction of private property regimes and regulation intended to facilitate market exchange – which, in the view of some commentators, are actually drivers of environmental degradation, poverty and inequality. Knowing where you stand on such questions is necessary for deciding what kinds of change you want to contribute to (or resist), and how best to strategise for such change.
Former graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations, including Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), DFID, Aga Khan Foundation, The Energy Institute, Green Peace, Deloitte and Mind, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mauritius, Liberty.
Alumni have taken up various kinds of roles, such as Campaigns assistant, Diplomat, Policy and Political Advisor, Programme Manager, Technical Officer, Urban Development Consultant.
For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.
A Student's Perspective
I had been working for a communications agency for several years prior to going to SOAS, and hadn’t quite found my passion at work. I knew I wanted to work in the field of environmental politics, and I wanted to set myself up for that.