SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

MSc State, Society and Development (2019 entry)

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning


This MSc programme seeks to explain state-society relations and development in Asia, Africa and (where appropriate) Latin America through the sub-disciplines of comparative political sociology and comparative/international political economy. Students will study the core concepts of these sub-disciplines such as: state; civil society; social closure; class; bureaucracy; patrimonialism; hegemony; late-industrialisation; product cycle; developmental state; rent-seeking; good governance; and globalization.

They will also be exposed to the principal analytical perspectives of political science such as historical institutionalism, rational choice theory and Marxism. These intellectual foundations will enable students to gain a better understanding of the shaping factors behind phenomena such as: state collapse and criminalisation in Africa; cronyism in Southeast Asia and Latin America; religious fundamentalism in South Asia; economic take-off in East Asia; linguistic nationalism in Central Asia; the ‘third wave’ of democratisation; global financial instability; and the relationship between the Washington Institutions and the South.

Students will also come to understand the usefulness of cross-regional comparison by seeing how the study of one region can illuminate similar issues elsewhere, despite differing cultural contexts.

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Entry requirements

  • The qualification for entry is normally a first or upper-second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Politics or International Relations, or a related social science discipline. Applicants without such a background may be considered for admission depending on their academic training and undergraduate performance.

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May be taken full-time over one year, or part-time over two or three years. Part students usually complete their core modules in Year 1, and their option modules and dissertation in subsequent years.



Students must take 180 credits comprised of 120 taught credits (including core and option modules) and a 60 credit dissertation.

Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in Politics and International Studies 15PPOC999 60 Full Year
Taught Component

Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from list A below


Choose modules to the value of 60 credits from list A, B, or C below

Guided Option

Choose any option within Law & Social Sciences, with the module convenor's approval.

List of modules (subject to availability)
List A
Module Code Credits Term
State and Society In Asia and Africa 15PPOC008 30 Credits
Politics of Globalisation and Development 15PPOC017 30 Credits
List B: regional politics modules
Module Code Credits Term
Government And Politics In Africa 15PPOC205 30
State And Society In The Chinese Political Process 15PPOC012 30 Credits
Northeast Asian Politics and Society: Japan, Korea and Taiwan 15PPOC253 30 Credits
State and Society in Central Asia and the Caucasus 15PPOH022 15 Term 1
Geopolitics and Security in Central Asia and the Caucasus 15PPOH023 15 Term 2
Political society in the Middle East 15PPOH008 15 Term 2
State and transformation in the Middle East 15PPOH011 15 Term 1
Taiwan's Politics and Cross-Strait Relations 15PPOC252 30 Credits
Japan Unravelled 15PPOH033 15 Credits
The Indian Ocean in World Politics 15PPOH032
Asian Security 15PPOH027 15 Credits
List C: disciplinary politics modules
Module Code Credits Term
International Political Economy 15PPOH031 15
Political Thought on the Just Rebellion 15PPOH030 15 Term 2
Political violence 15PPOH009 15 Term 2
Approaches to Comparative Political Thought 15PPOH028 15 Term 1
Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Social Research 15PPOH035 15 Term 2


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

Courses are taught by a combination of methods, principally lectures, tutorial classes, seminars and supervised individual study projects.

The MSc programme consists of three taught courses (corresponding to three examination papers) and a dissertation.


Most courses involve a 50-minute 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.

Learning Resources

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.

Find out more