SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

MPhil/PhD in Development Studies (2021 entry)

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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, namely: 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

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 the following notes on How to write your Research Proposal

For all queries regarding applications and proposals please contact the the Research Admissions Tutor, listed on the drop down list at the top of the Development Studies Staff page 

Academic Staff and their Research Areas

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

Professor Christopher Cramer BA, PhD(Cantab)
Africa: economics of Africa, political economy of development, political economy of war and peace in southern Africa, and the economics of cashew production, processing and trade

Dr Jonathan Di John BA (Harvard) PhD(Cantab)
Development economics, economic growth, institutional economics, taxation in less developed countries, the political economy of oil states, political economy of industrial policy in Latin America, especially of Venezuela, Columbia and Brazil

Professor Jonathan Goodhand BA, PGCE(Birmingham) MSc, PhD(Manchester)
South and Central Asia; complex political emergencies, humanitarian aid; NGO capacity building, aid, conflict and development

Professor Laura Hammond MA, PhD(Wisconsin)
Horn of Africa; Ethiopia; Somalia; forced migration; resettlement; returnees; remittances; international assistance

Dr Adam Hanieh BSc (Adelaide) MA (Al Quds) PhD (York)
Political economy, labour migration, Middle East politics, Gulf Cooperation Council, migration development and remittances class and state formation internationalisation Palestine

Dr Colette Harris PhD (Amsterdam, NL) Gender and micro-political power. This includes exploring the relationship between masculinities, femininities, and violence, and between gender and religion.

Dr Michael Jennings BA, MA(Oxon) PhD(London)
Politics and history of development processes in sub-Saharan Africa, governance, civil society, non-governmental organisations and faith-based organisations, and social aspects of health in Africa

Dr Tania Kaiser BA(Bristol) MPhil, DPhil(Oxon)
East Africa, West Africa, Sri Lanka; conflict and development; forced migration; refugees; humanitarian interventions

Dr Jens Lerche MA, PhD(Copenhagen)
South Asia; agrarian political economy; rural labour relations; governance and development

Dr Anna Lindley MA (Leeds), DPHIL (Oxon)
Global migration dynamics, politics and experiences; displacement and refugees; transnationalism and remittances; Somali mobilities; immigration politics and policy; immigration detention; migrant access to justice; civic mobilisation around migration

Dr Thomas Marois BA, MA (Alberta), PhD (York)
Mexico, Turkey; Political economy of banking, finance, and development; state-owned banks; privatization; state-capital-labour relations; state theory; internationalization

Professor Zoe Marriage BA(Oxon) MSc, PhD(LSE)
Sierra Leone, Rwanda, DR Congo and Sudan; political and psychological processes of violence and assistance, rural policy

Dr Alessandra Mezzadri MSc, PhD (London)
International trade, global commodity chains, industrial development and labour markets in developing countries, social structures and inequality; structures of production and labour in the Indian export-oriented garment industry

Professor Peter P Mollinga MSc PhD (Wageningen NL) PD/Habil. (Bonn)
South Asia, Central Asia; comparative political sociology of water resources and development; technology and agrarian change; boundary work in natural resources management; interdisciplinary social theory.

Dr Paolo Novak MSc, PhD (London)
Afghanistan; Pakistan; refugees; borders; governance; international intervention

Professor Carlos Oya Licenciatura(Madrid) MSc, PhD(London)
West Africa, Southern Africa, agrarian political economy; poverty; rural labour; government-donor relations; research methods

Dr Tim Pringle BA (Leeds); PhD (Warwick) East Asia, labour relations in China and Vietnam, trade union reform in China and Vietnam, labour and social movements in China, labour migration in China

Professor Navtej K Purewal BA (Vassar College), MA (SOAS, London), PhD (Lancaster) Bordering logics; feminism; gender and social policy; reproductive rights; girls' education; coloniality; neoliberal development; South Asia; India and Pakistan

Dr Althea-Maria Rivas BA (McGill), MPA (Concordia), PhD (Sussex) Humanitarian intervention, post-conflict reconstruction, the politics of global development, everyday violence in post-conflict settings, gender (in)security, violence and development, race, racism and development, peace and justice, emotion and conflict, the relationship between peace, forgiveness and justice, black and indigenous feminisms, feminist and decolonial theory and pedagogy, postcolonial conversations on resistance and development, research methods and ethics. Regional focus: Central Asia, West and East Africa.

Dr Matteo Rizzo MSc, PhD (SOAS) Economics of Africa, the political economy of development

Dr Subir Sinha BA(Delhi) MA, PhD(NorthWestern)
South Asia: institutions of development, NGOs, social movements; the environment, common property institutions and resource use.

Dr Leandro Vergara-Camus BA (UQAM, Montréal); MA (UNAM, México); PhD (York, Toronto) Political economy of Latin America, social and peasant movements, alter-globalisation movements and social change, alternative development, agrarian issues, and bio-fuels and energy politics.

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Entry requirements

Featured events

Fees 2021/22

UK fees:
Overseas fees:

Fees for 2021/22 entrants. 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



Year 1

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.
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 the first year

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.

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.

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

Full details of postgraduate research tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Research Tuition Fees page.

Fees for 2021/22 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. 

Research Degrees Full-time  Part-time 
UK Overseas UK Overseas
MPhil/PhD £4,486 £20,000 £2,243 £10,000
Extension of Writing-up Status - 3 Terms £990 £990 £990 £990
Visiting Research Students (charged pro rata for termly attendance) £4,486 £20,000 -  -
Elisabeth Croll Scholarship for fieldwork in China

Application Deadline: 2021-04-30 00:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2021-02-15 00:00

Meiji Jingu Japanese Studies Research Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2021-04-20 00:00

SOAS Research Studentships

Application Deadline: 2021-04-30 00:00

Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship

Application Deadline: 2021-03-08 00:00

Tibawi Trust Award

Application Deadline: 2020-06-05 15:00

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


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