Start of programme: September intake only
Who is this programme for?:
The Violence, Conflict and Development programme attracts applicants with a variety of academic and working backgrounds. We welcome those who have worked in the field of development and/or conflict, but we also welcome applications from students without relevant work experience who can demonstrate a strong interest in the major themes of the programme and a strong first degree, preferably in a social science.
The degree has been developed to meet the needs of people working, or hoping to work, in international agencies, humanitarian organisations, and NGOs.
As the pioneering programme of its kind internationally, this MSc programme develops detailed empirical knowledge and analytical skills for understanding the complex linkages between violent conflict and development, both historically and today. It enables students to explore these linkages both within specific country and regional contexts and in the context of global interdependencies and the ways these affect peace, war, and non-war violence.
The programme introduces students to competing analytical approaches. It is multi-disciplinary though shaped by a particular interest in political economy. It encourages deep case study knowledge. And it offers students the ability to tailor their choice of optional courses and dissertation research to their own interests.
The MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development draws on the exceptional expertise at SOAS in different disciplinary understanding of development challenges and processes as well as the strong commitment among all teaching staff to area expertise. Staff teaching on this programme are research active and have a range of links to international organisations.
The programme is of interest for development practitioners, activists, and students with a scholarly interest in the patterns of violence internationally, in how violence affects development, and in how the uneven processes of development themselves may both generate violence and generate mechanisms for containing violence.
- Zoe's Blog! A convenor's-eye view of the MSc Violence, Conflict and Development programme
- Exploration of the long history of theories of human violence
- Relationships between violence and long-run historical change
- The concept of a continuum of violence
- The relevance of historical and more recent evidence that the process of structural change involved in ‘development’ is inherently conflictual and often violent
- To what extent democratisation is a mechanism for securing perpetual peace
- The challenges of understanding gender based violence
- Whether abundant natural resources, or high levels of inequality, or clear markers of religious or ethnic difference are clear sources of violent conflict
- How highly localised violent conflicts are connected to processes of global economic development
- The challenges of post-conflict reconstruction and ‘war to peace transitions’
- The role of NGOs in causes of, dynamics of, and responses to conflict
- Explaining the prevalence of high levels of non-war violence
- Explanations of the political economy of – and alternative perspectives on – terrorism
Students can draw on SOAS's unique expertise to specialise further in particular regions or topics.
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 Violence, Conflict & Development’ and a ‘Dissertation in Development Studies’. They then choose EITHER ‘Political Economy of Development’ OR ‘Theory, Policy and Practice of Development. 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.
Students take the following TWO core modules:
Optional Core Modules
Students then choose ONE of the following modules:
Students choose modules to the value of 30 credits from List 1 and 30 credits from List 2 below:
(1) Option Modules in the Department of Development Studies
(2) Open Options in other Departments
All MSc students in Development Studies are eligible to attend the one-term, non-assessed course, Economics for Beginners, which introduces students to basic concepts in microeconomics, macroeconomics, development economics, and statistics and econometrics.
This is the structure for 2017/18 applicants
If you are a current student you can find structure information on Moodle or through your Faculty.
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 by a combination of methods, principally lectures, tutorial classes, seminars and supervised individual study projects.
The MSc programme consists of three taught modules (corresponding to three examination papers) and a dissertation.
Most modules involve a two hour lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes.
At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work. Students make full-scale presentations for each unit that they take, and are expected to write papers that often require significant independent work.
A quarter of the work for the degree is given over to the writing of an adequately researched 10,000-word dissertation. Students are encouraged to take up topics which relate the study of a particular region to a body of theory.
Pre Entry Reading
Cramer, C. (2006). Civil War is Not a Stupid Thing. Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries. London, Hurst & co.
Duffield, M. (2007). Development, Security and Unending War. Cambridge, Polity.
Goodhand, J. (2006). Aiding Peace? The Role of NGOs in Armed Conflict. Rugby, ITDG Publishing.
Keen, D. (2008). Complex Emergencies. Cambridge, Polity Press.
Marriage, Z. (2013). Formal Peace and Informal War. Security and Development in Congo. London and New York, Routledge.
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-time||Part-time 2 Years||Part-time 3 Years|
MSc Violence, Conflict & Development postgraduate students leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek. These include analytical skills, presentation skills, the ability to think laterally and employ critical reasoning, and knowing how to present materials and ideas effectively both orally and in writing. A postgraduate degree 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. Graduates from MsC Violence, Conflict & Development have gone on to work in a range of different organisations, including Development and Human Rights Organisations, and many have continuted in the field of research.
Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:
BBC World Service
British Overseas Network for Development NGOs
Department for International Development
Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Finland
European Bank for Reconstruction & Development
Immigration Advisory Service
Institute for Human Development
Institute for Public Policy Research
International Land Coalition (ILC)
|Islamic Relief Worldwide
Mekong Economics Ltd
Overseas Development Institute
Save the Children
The Climate Group
The Japan Foundation
The World Bank
UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations
UNICEF Libya Response Team
World Health Organization
Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:
|Regional Project Development Intern For Africa
Emergencies Programme Manager
International Mobilisation Coordinator
Humanitarian Policy Advisor
East and Central Africa Projects Manager
Horn of Africa Analyst
Global Policy Consultant
Operational Support Officer
Senior Project Manager
Defense Policy and Strategy Analyst
Director Counter Extremism and Deradicalization
International Programmes Officer
Ethical Trade Executive
Community Investment Coordinator
Women and Peace building Specialist
For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.
A Student's Perspective
The Department of Development Studies has a high calibre of lecturers and tutors with a wide range of backgrounds. My teachers have been really inspiring, and are always open to questions and feedback.