SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

MPhil/PhD in Development Studies (2022 entry)

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
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Overview and entry requirements

Study MPhil/PhD in Development Studies at SOAS to realise your potential to tackle global injustice and transform the world with your research impact.

As a PhD researcher, you’ll join a renowned globally diverse research community with access to research and teaching opportunities, as well as a substantial series of seminars presented by leading development professionals and practitioners.

The Department currently has 52 research students, working on a range of research topics in many parts of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. We are particularly interested in potential research students who wish to work in one of the main Departmental Research Clusters, specifically: Labour, Movements and Development; Neoliberalism, Globalisation, and States; Violence, Peace and Development; Water for Africa; Migration, Mobility and Development; Agrarian Change and Development; Development Policy, Aid, Institutions and Poverty Reduction.

SOAS research students are encouraged to attend weekly training sessions to introduce them to a number of practical techniques and vocational skills utilised within the development profession, fortnightly seminars on topics relevant to Development Studies and, where appropriate, post-experience workshops.

Before applying for a research degree, please read How to write your Research Proposal.

For all queries regarding applications and proposal, contact the the Research Admissions Tutor, listed on the Development Studies Staff page (at the top, under 'show more').

See Department of Development Studies

Why study MPhil/PhD Development Studies at SOAS

  • we are ranked number 2 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
  • academic staff and their research areas include Professor Laura Hammond MA, PhD (Wisconsin) Horn of Africa; Ethiopia; Somalia; forced migration; resettlement; returnees; remittances; international assistance and Professor Gilbert Achcar BA (Lyons) BA, MA (Lebanese University Beirut) PhD (Paris VIII) Middle East and north Africa; social and political theory; international relations; globalisation; sociology of religion


Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Entry requirements

  • We normally require a 2.1 bachelor's degree plus a Masters degree with a Merit classification in a Social Science plus one reference. In exceptional cases we may accept applicants who do not meet these criteria if they show evidence of a strong Masters degree and/or appropriate level of relevant work experience. International applicants should also see Doctoral School English language requirements Doctoral School English language requirements

Featured events

Fees 2022/23

Home students fees:
Overseas students fees:

Fees for 2022/23 entrants. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found on the Postgraduate research tuition fees page




Students are expected to upgrade from MPhil to PhD status after their first year.
It is expected that you will meet your assigned Supervisor in your first week at SOAS, and that, in consultation with your Supervisor, you will choose two other academics to serve on your research committee.

Year 1

During the module of your first year, you are required to attend the Department’s Postgraduate Research Training Seminar. These sessions will provide you with the essential training in research methodology and will assist you in getting started: specifically, they will assist you in writing the constituent components of the ‘upgrade paper’ that you have to submit and defend in a viva in Term 3 of your first year.

Given the wealth of training resources in research methods and other theoretically and empirically relevant postgraduate modules across the Faculty and in other Faculties at SOAS, students are strongly encouraged to audit modules.

Additional modules can be invaluable, especially for conceptual or area specific issues or topics, as ways to supplement the training imparted in the MPhil Seminars. The supervisor and the student will discuss at the beginning of the year the most suitable portfolio of training and modules in relation to the topic of the thesis, its main research questions and the setting in which the research will be conducted.

Schedule after year 1

Once students have passed their upgrade, they should immediately proceed with designing the details of the empirical work and organising the drafts written in the module of the first year. As most Development Studies students will embark on fieldwork in their second year, it is important to keep the 3-year time limit in mind, and to not postpone writing chapters until after the completion of fieldwork.

Any writing done during that period will save crucial time on return.
Ordinarily, a student would then adhere to the following writing up schedule:
Terms 4, 5 and 6: Fieldwork, and beginning of data processing as well as drawing up of chapter templates;

Summer vacation of the second year, terms 7 and 8: Data analysis and back to literature review to revise initial chapters and producing a full final draft;

Term 9: Reviewing the first draft, complete any required rewriting, and submission of dissertation. There is a possibility of continuation of writing-up after term 9 but the thesis will have to be submitted in any case before the end of the 4th year. This will be the final deadline although the thesis is expected to be finished within three years of full-time active research.

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

All MPhil/PhD students have a supervisory committee, comprising their main supervisor, and two other academic staff. In the first year, PhD students will have regular formal tutorials during term time with their main supervisor, working towards the production of their upgrade paper and viva at the end of the academic year.


Supervision during the 2nd year (usually the fieldwork year) will often by through email and Skype (whilst students are away in the field), and in person if they return to the UK during this period. In the final year, tutorials are arranged around the writing-up of thesis chapters. Outside the formal supervision tutorials, all research students are encouraged to chat with their supervisors to discuss issues as they arise.

Weekly research seminars

In addition to the individual tutorials with their supervisors, all research students are required to attend and participate in the weekly research seminars, which provide training and skills in specific research methods. They may also take specific taught masters options where relevant to their particular research.

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.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Fees for 2022/23 entrants per academic year

Home students Overseas students
Full-time £4,670 £20,800
Part-time £2,335 £10,400

Please note that fees go up each year. 

See full details of postgraduate research tuition fees

Elisabeth Croll Scholarship for fieldwork in China

Application Deadline: 2021-04-30 00:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2022-01-28 15:00

Meiji Jingu Japanese Studies Research Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2022-05-02 00:00

SOAS Research Development Studies Studentships

Application Deadline: 2022-08-15 00:00

SOAS Research Studentships

Application Deadline: 2022-05-02 00:00

SOAS Research Studentships

Application Deadline: 2022-04-17 00:00

SOAS Research Studentships - School of Arts

Application Deadline: 2022-05-06 00:00

Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship

Application Deadline: 2022-04-05 00:00

Tibawi Trust Award

Application Deadline: 2022-05-02 00:00

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



A degree from the Department of Development Studies at SOAS will further develop your understanding of the world and how society is organised, with specific focus on violence and conflict, the role of aid, refugees and forced migration. Graduates leave with a range of transferable skills, including critical thinking, analytical skills and cultural awareness.

Recent Department of Development Studies graduates have been hired by:

  • Amnesty International
  • 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)
  • Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Overseas Development Institute
  • Oxfam
  • Royal Norwegian Embassy
  • Save the Children UK
  • The World Bank
  • Thinking Beyond Borders
  • US Department of State
  • UN World Food Programme
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees
  • WaterAid

Find out about our Careers Service.

A Student's Perspective

SOAS seems to attract students who are both intellectually engaged with the world around them, and committed to making an impact in that world. I wanted to be a part of that magic. For example my cohort group of MPhil/PhD students represent some of the most humble and committed practitioners, activists, and intellectuals I’ve come across in one setting.

Robtel Neajai Pailey


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