SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

MSc Humanitarianism, Aid and Conflict (2021 entry)

Select year of entry: 2021 2020

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The MSc Humanitarianism, Aid & Conflict builds on the strength of existing expertise in violence, conflict and global development within the Department of Development Studies and SOAS in general.

The programme is designed to provide students with analytical training and an in-depth understanding of the challenges of contemporary humanitarian aid, its interaction with conflict and development and new directions in the field.

The programme presents students with comprehensive knowledge of the history of the architecture of aid in humanitarian contexts, key local, regional and international actors, and engages with theoretical, conceptual and policy debates relating to the political and logistical challenges of the global responses to conflict, natural disasters and complex emergencies, the diverse range of critiques that have been made of it, emerging innovations, context-specific challenges and agendas from the Global South.

In this unique programme is specifically designed to allow students to focus on and develop wide-ranging knowledge of the field and the tools to critically engage with the pressing questions of power dynamics, politics, accountability, security and access that are facing the humanitarian organisations, academics and local communities today.

Security, Development and Violence in Afghanistan

Bringing Justice to the People – DRC. Blog by Bilge Sahin

The core modules on the programme provide an in-depth and critical overview of the key issues and debates in the humanitarian studies and practice, while the optional modules enable you to shape your studies to your own needs and interests, in areas such as migration, gender, political economy, food insecurity, protracted conflict, labour and livelihoods, climate and the environment and urban development.

The programme links theory to practice through engagement with a wide range of materials, including academic literature, case studies, archival documents, policy reports, popular culture and media. 

Each cohort will acquire critical thinking and analysis skills, data gathering, research and communication and presentation skills, and guidance on undertaking internships. Students will interact with a wide range of actors including academics, policymakers, practitioners and civil society activists.

The role of donors in remote management in Somalia: eyes wide shut. In the World Disaster Report 2015 by Althea Rivas

What Makes the Programme Special?

Students studying Humanitarianism at SOAS will benefit from our critical and engaged  tradition in development studies, the knowledge of our world-leading faculty and staff on global responses to complex crisis and our unique expertise on specialist regions. SOAS University of London is the leading Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East.

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Valerie Amos discusses humanitarian relief challenges with SOAS students | World Humanitarian Day

Throughout the year our students will partake in a variety of activities which will support their academic development and knowledge of current debates in the Humanitarianism, Aid and Conflict. Termly Humanitarian Seminars will be held on current issues in the field. The seminars will allow students to engage in real-time with a wide variety of academics, government officials, aid workers, researchers and civil society advocates from the UK and around the world.  In addition, students will be able to attend and benefit from the vibrant and engaged research community at SOAS and attend public lectures, workshops and special events organised by the Development Studies Department, and other Departments and Centres across the School.

A weekly Student-Centred Workshop will be given by faculty members focused on topics such as developing academic writing and presentation skills, learning innovative methodologies and strengthening analysis skills. In the second term students will be able to use this space to invite speakers or organise special events.

This programme focuses on student-centred and engaged learning, and critical thinking.  Modules span a wide variety of topics allowing students to focus on special areas of interest and utilise innovative and cutting-edge pedagogies such as podcasts, visual presentations, learning diaries and fieldtrips.

Check out our Humanitarian Hub for thought-provoking blogs and commentary by SOAS staff and research associates, updates on research and students voices, podcasts and group discussions.

Who Should Do This Programme?

We welcome students with a strong background in the social sciences, management, humanities or social science of medicine in their first degree, and those who have worked in the area of humanitarian aid, development, or in a related field.

This course will provide a solid foundation and practical skills for students with an interest working in humanitarian aid, policymaking, global development, migration, civil-society and advocacy, philanthropy, the NGO sector, or academia and research careers.

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Entry requirements

  • Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent). Relevant work experience may also be considered.

Featured events

One calendar year (full-time); two calendar years part-time. 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 2020/21

UK/EU fees:
Overseas fees:

Fees for 2020/21 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



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.

This programme allows you to select one of the Department's online optional modules as part of your degree. Further details on the available modules can be found here.  

Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in Development Studies 15PDSC999 60 Full Year
Taught Component
Core Modules
Module Code Credits Term
Humanitarianism: Challenges & Critiques 15PDSC010 30 Full Year

Students also take ONE of the following:

Module Code Credits Term
Political economy of violence, conflict and development 15PDSC003 30 Full Year
Migration and Development 15PDSC006 30 Full Year
Guided Options

Choose module(s) from the List of Development Studies Options below to the value of 30 credits


Choose module(s) to the total value of 30 credits from:

  • module(s) from the List of Development Studies Options below to the value of 30 credits
  • module(s) from the List of Open Options to the value of 30 credits
  • module from the List of Development Studies Options below to the value of 15 credits
  • module from the List of Open Options to the value of 15 credits
List of modules (subject to availability)
Development Studies
Module Code Credits Term
Agrarian Development, Food Policy and Rural Poverty 15PDSH026 15 Term 2
Aid and Development 15PDSH027 15 Term 2
Battlefields of Method: Approaches to International Development Research 15PDSC008 30 Full Year
Borders and Development 15PDSH023 15 Term 1
Cities and Development 15PDSH072 15 Term 1
Civil society, social movements and the development process 15PDSH001 15 Term 1
Contemporary India: Issues, Methods and Approaches 15PAIC003 30 Full Year
Critical Insights in Forced Migration 15DISD229 30
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
Fundamentals of research methods for Development Studies 15PDSH017 15 Term 1
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
Human and Critical Security Studies 15DISD213 30
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
Natural resources, development and change: putting critical analysis into practice 15PDSH031 15 Term 2
Neoliberalism, Democracy and Global Development 15PDSH054 15 Term 2
Partnerships Beyond Borders: NGOs, Social Movements and Civil Society in Transnational Development 15DISD230 30
Problems of Development in the Middle East and North Africa 15PDSH019 15 Term 2
Security 15PDSH020 15 Term 1
The Politics of Gender and Feminism in Development 15DISD231 30
The Working Poor and Development 15PDSH030 15 Term 2
Labour, Activism and Global Development 15PDSH032 15 Term 2
Understanding Violence, Conflict and Development 15DISD019 30
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


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.

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.

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 2020/21 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Fees go up each year, therefore, your tuition fee in your second & subsequent years of study will be higher. Our continuing students, on the same degree programme, are protected from annual increases higher than 5%.

Full-time Part-time 2 Years Part-time 3 Years
£12,720 £21,750 £6,360 £10,875 £4,240 £7,250

International Postgraduate Scholarship – East Asia

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Ghana

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – India

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Japan

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Nigeria

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Pakistan

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – South Korea

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

John Loiello AFSOAS FISH Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2020-02-20 15:00

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


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