SOAS University of London

Academic Summer School at SOAS

NGOs and Social Movements: The Politics of Protest and Change

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • How to Apply


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Mode of Attendance: Full-time


Session 2: 2 July- 20 July 2018

Programme Description 

The rise of NGOs into a veritable global industry has been matched by a diversification in the types of roles NGOs play in society. In addition to delivering relief and promoting social and economic development, NGOs have increasingly taken part in broader governance, democratisation and peace building efforts.

This course provides a critical introduction to NGOs, the nature and impact of social protest, how they have interacted and influenced each other, and how they have globalised. It questions the perception that NGOs offer an alternative to state-led or top-down development models, considers the concept and the use of humanitarian intervention in diverse contexts and explores the extent to which social movements are posing a challenge to neoliberalism. It examines both the theoretical basis for NGO and social movement strategies for social change as well as their practical implications, and draws on a number of case studies, exploring what kind of development and change is possible.

Students will conduct field research by participating in a protest or demonstration and undertaking a short practical exercise, either a photo essay or short video, which they will present to their classmates on the last day.

Tuition Fees

A tuition fee of £1600 will be charged per 3 week programme. This figure does not include accommodation fees.


20% discount for our partner institutions
50% discount for current SOAS students

Application fee

A one-off, non-refundable application fee of £40 will be charged to cover administration costs. Please visit the SOAS online store to make your application fee payment. 


Accommodation is available to Summer School students at the SOAS Halls of Residence, Dinwiddy House. For details of how to book a room please visit the Dinwiddy House accommodation page.


Students are usually able to obtain credits from their home institution and typically our courses receive 3 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to claim credits from your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you enrol. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to award credits rests with your home institution.

Assessment will be optional and will vary for each course. Participants will be provided with a certificate of attendance and transcripts will be available on request.

Social Programme 

You will also be able to enjoy our social programme, starting with a welcome party and an optional river cruise on the Thames for a small additional charge. Details about how to book will be communicated to you once you are registered. You will also receive discount codes for day trips and overnight tours with our partner International Friends.


For more information, please fill out our enquiry form


Contact hours: 46 hours (lectures, tutorials, activities). The course will be delivered Monday - Friday over the 3 weeks.

Core hours: Monday - Thursday 10am-3pm, and 2 hours on one specified Friday over the 3 weeks. In addition to regular lectures and tutorials, each course is composed of a range of activities relating to their academic content (e.g. museum visit, company visit etc). 

Optional hours: The Summer School office will arrange various social activites throughout the 3 weeks. On spcified Fridays there will be a range of optional activities for students to get involved with, providing a taste of SOAS life on campus and nearby places of interest.

Core hours: Monday - Thursday 10am-3pm, and 2 hours on one specified Friday over the 3 weeks. In addition to regular lectures and tutorials, each course is composed of a range of activities relating to their academic content (e.g. museum visit, company visit etc). Optional hours: 

NGOs and social movements are a vital part of development efforts and are referred to in almost every course in Development Studies. A critical introduction and a theoretical consideration of NGOs and social movements their relationship to neoliberalism is an important theme for students of Development Studies.

Week 1: NGOs, social movements and development

  • Neoliberal development and the resurgence of NGOs
  • Social movements, states and civil society
  • Contemporary protest and the question of democracy

Week 2: The role of NGOs in humanitarian crises

  • NGO accountability, legitimacy and power
  • Crisis, war and humanitarian intervention
  • The liberal peace and its discontents

Week 3: The politics of protest and change

  • NGOs, social movements and the left
  • Labour and labour organising
  • Social movement unionism
  • What kind of social change?

Assessment: is optional and will be in the form of a 2000-2500 word essay to be handed in 2 weeks after the end of the course.


Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • A critical understanding of the key theoretical debates on NGOs, including an understanding of the various roles both international and national NGOs play in processes of development and social change.
  • An understanding of the relationships between NGOs and a range of other development actors, and knowledge of how these relationships have evolved.
  • A capacity to identify, understand and critique a range of theoretical approaches for understanding contemporary development NGOs and apply these approaches to practical case studies of NGOs.


How to Apply

Applications Now Open! Click to apply

Entry Requirements

In order to join our Summer School, you will need to meet the following entry requirements:

  • A university student or a graduate at the time of attending the summer school, and 18+ years of age.
    Professional experience can be acknowledged as equivalent to a university qualification.
  • A minimum English language requirement if English is not your first language:
    • IELTS, 6.5 overall or higher, with at least 6 in all sub scores.
    • TOEFL Paper based test we require a minimum of 583 with minimum 53 in all skills and for TOEFL Internet Based Test we require a minimum of 93 with minimum 20 in all skills. 
    • Pearson Test of English a score of 59-64
    • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Grade B
    • If you have studied in an English speaking institution, or have courses taught at your university in English (excluding English language courses) you may meet our requirements without having to supply a certificate. Evidence of this will either need to be included on a transcript or letter from your university.
    • Applicants with an alternative qualification should contact us for advice.
    • Applicants whose English language level do not meet out requirements may be interested in our subject based courses with English language support.

Enrolment of Summer School applicants who don’t meet the entry requirements is at the discretion of SOAS – please get in touch to speak to us in detail about your application

Application Procedure

Once you have paid the £40 application fee and submitted the online application form, you will be informed as to whether you have a place on the summer school within 5 working days. Please do not pay your tuition fee prior to having received your offer letter.

Application Deadline

15 June 2018

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