Development Studies

Study mode:On campus Study type:Part-time Languages: English
Local:$ 8.59 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 19.9 k / Year(s) Deadline: Jun 30, 2025
StudyQA ranking:4569 Duration:12 months

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The programme attracts applications from students with a variety of academic and experiential backgrounds. We welcome applications from those who have worked in a broad field of development, but also from students without relevant work experience who can demonstrate a strong interest in, and understanding of, development issues. A good first degree in a social science is preferred.

Development Studies is a dynamic field concerned with processes of change in the South - social and economic, political and cultural - and the major policy challenges they present to efforts to overcome poverty and insecurity. This programme provides a solid interdisciplinary social science formation in development theory and practice and develops students capacities for independent and critical analysis.

Highlights include:

  • the meanings of development and the challenges it faces
  • neoliberalism and its critiques
  • industrialisation, labour and capital
  • state failure, poverty and insecurity
  • gender and class analysis
  • NGOs, civil society and social movements
  • globalisation, commodity chains and trade
  • the agrarian question, peasantry and land

The MSc programmes emphasis on transferable analytical skills has been of great benefit to the many graduates who have returned to, or taken up, professional careers in development in international organisations, government agencies and non-government organisations. Students also benefit from the wide range of courses on offer, both within the Department and across the School, allowing them to create individualised interdisciplinary programmes.

The MSc Development Studies has four components: two compulsory courses; one full-course option or two half-course options; and a dissertation of 10,000 words. Please see Postgraduate Courses for details on core and optional courses taught within the Department. For a full list of courses offered, please see the Postgraduate Handbook, available on the Development Studies homepage.

There are four main components to this degree: three taught courses and a dissertation. All students take two core courses, Political Economy of Development and Theory, Policy and Practice of Development. Through these courses students build their analytical skills and knowledge of the main issues and debates in Development Studies.


Students also take optional courses (one full unit course or two half-unit courses), allowing them to specialise in particular areas of development and potentially to develop a dissertation in a related theme. By tying these to their individual dissertation topic, students design their degree to suit their own interests and career development goals.

Core Courses

All students take both Political Economy of Development and Theory, Policy and Practice of Development. The dissertation is compulsory.

  • Political economy of development - 15PDSC002 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Theory, policy and practice of development - 15PDSC001 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Dissertation in Development Studies - 15PDSC999 (1 Unit) - Full Year
Optional Courses - Development Studies

Students may choose optional courses (one full course or two half courses) from the list below. Please check to ensure that any course in which you have a special interest is running in the year that you wish to study. In addition, access to relevant courses in other departments may be negotiated subject to the agreement of both Convenors.

  • Agrarian Development, Food Policy and Rural Poverty - 15PDSH026 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Aid and development - 15PDSH027 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Issues in Borders and Development - 15PDSH023 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Civil society, social movements and the development process - 15PDSH001 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Contested natural resources, rural livelihoods and globalisation - 15PDSH031 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Development practice - 15PDSH013 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013
  • East Asia and globalisation - 15PDSH025 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Famine and food security - 15PDSH022 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Fundamentals of research methods for Development Studies - 15PDSH017 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Gender and development - 15PDSH010 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • HIV and AIDS, culture and development - 15PDSH021 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Industrial globalisation and development - 15PDSH024 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Issues in forced migration - 15PDSH015 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Migration and Mobility in the Middle East and North Africa (Masters) - 15PDSH028 (0.5 Unit)
  • Migration and Policy - 15PDSH029 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Political And Economic Development Of Latin America - 15PDSH016 (0.5 Unit) - Not Running 2012/13
  • Problems of development in the Middle East and North Africa - 15PDSH019 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Security - 15PDSH020 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • The politics of water resources management in Asia - 15PDSH034 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • The working poor and development - 15PDSH030 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Understanding economic migration: Theories, Patterns and Policies - 15PDSH032 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Water Law and Governance Reform in Asia - 15PDSH033 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
Open Options in Other Departments Economics Department
  • Economic development in Africa - 15PECC203 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Economic dynamics of the Asia-Pacific region - 15PECC334 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Economic problems and policies in modern China - 15PECC035 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Economic development of modern Taiwan - 15PECH002 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
Politics and International Studies Department
  • Government and politics in Africa - 15PPOC205 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Government and politics of modern South Asia - 15PPOC003 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • State and development in Asia and Africa - 15PPOC017 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Taiwan's politics and cross-strait relations - 15PPOC252 (1 Unit) - Full Year
School of Law
  • Human rights in the developing world - 15PLAC111 (1 Unit) - Full Year
Anthropology and Sociology Department
  • Food, Body And Society - 15 PAN H041 (0.5 Unit) - Cannot be taken with Food Development and the Global Economy
  • Food, Development and the Global Economy - 15PANH042 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Cannot be taken with Food Body and Society.
  • Therapy and Culture - 15PANH027 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent). Relevant work experience may also be considered.Subjects Preferred: Social ScienceEnglish language requirementsIn order to ensure that SOAS students have a sufficient standard of English to study effectively, we require overseas students to submit evidence, during the application process, of their current level of proficiency.Score for Unconditional EntryIELTS: Overall 7+ with at least 7 in all sub scoresTOEFL: iBT105+ with at least 25 in all sub scoresPearson Test of English - Academic: Score of 75 or above with at least 70 in all sub scores English Language Requirements IELTS band: 7 TOEFL iBT® test: 105 IMPORTANT NOTE: Since April 2014 the ETS tests (including TOEFL and TOEIC) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa. The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.

Scholarships and Bursaries

There are some scholarships and bursaries available for postgraduate students. These are very competitive and early application is advised.

· The Ahmad Mustafa Abu-Hakima Bursary (programme must include studying the history of the modern Arab world)

· AKS Postgraduate Bursary (in Korean Studies)

· Bernard Buckman Scholarship (MA Chinese Studies, for UK/EU fee paying students)

· The Canon Collins Scholarships at SOAS. There are two scholarships available available in 2013-14 for study at SOAS. These scholarships are for Masters study in any subject field. Open a national of and resident in one of the following countries:
Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe. The application process normally opens in December and closes in February, for study commencing in September the following year. Please go to the Canon Collins website and click "Apply for A Scholarship" and then "Canon Collins Scholarship for Masters Study in the UK" for further information on how to apply.

· Commonwealth Shared Scholarship (for students from African Commonwealth countries)

· D.G.Hall Scholarship (Taught Masters programmes at SOAS, for applicants holding a Burma/Myanmar passport)

· Felix Scholarships (for Indian students)

· Ferguson Scholarships (for African nationals from an African Country)

· HSBC SOAS Scholarships (MA Sinology & MA Chinese Literature, for UK/EU fee paying students)

· Kamran Djam Scholarships (MA Iranian Studies)

· Professor Stuart Wilson Scholarship (MA South East Asian Studies)

· Standard Chartered Scholarships (for a range of full-time Taught Masters programmes. The programmes relate to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East/NorthAfrica)

· Tibawi Trust Awards (for Palestinian students currently enrolled in a programme at SOAS)

· SOAS Master's Scholarships - Faculty of Arts & Humanities - (for any full-time taught masters programme in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities)

· SOAS Master's Scholarships - Faculty of Language & Cultures (for the full-time MA Gender Studies, MA Postcolonial Studies, MA Linguistics, MA Applied Linguistics & Language Pedagogy, MA Language, Documentation and Description, MA Translation Theory and Practice (Asian and African Languages)

· SOAS Master's Scholarships- Faculty of Law and Social Sciences (for any full-time master's programmes in the Department of Development Studies, Economics, Law, Politics & International Studies and Financial & Management Studies)

· Tallow Chandlers and M. W Beer scholarship (MA) (MA Anthropology of Food, for UK/EU fee paying students)

· William Ross Murray Scholarship (LLM, for students from a developing country)

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