MSc Research for International Development


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time

The MSc Research for International Development is a newly established interdisciplinary Taught Masters programme at SOAS, offered jointly by the departments of Economics and Development Studies. This cutting-edge degree is funded and supported by the UK’s ESRC (The Economic and Social Research Council) as part of the Bloomsbury Doctoral Training Centre.

The programme’s unique core module Battlefield of Methods: Approaches to International Development equips students with the theoretical background and analytical skills to inquire into the relationship between theory and method in the domain of international development. The module provides students with knowledge about the plurality of methodological approaches in key areas of international development research, and the policy choices and strategies associated with these. The module offers students the opportunity to engage with a selection of methods used in international development research.

Further training in a variety of research methods is the focus of the other two core modules: Research Methods in Political Economy I and II. RMI covers the necessary statistical methods for social sciences including survey design and regression analysis. It aims to a) introduce students to statistical inference; b) encourage the clear and coherent expression of statistical results, and c) promote the critical reading of statistics within the development literature. RMII addresses sources and methods for the social sciences in the context of the political economy of development.

This programme gives students advanced interdisciplinary training in research methods and topics in Research for International Development. While the programme structure emphasises research methods, students will also have the opportunity to choose from a large number of substantive optional modules. The interdisciplinary nature of the programme is by virtue of both the core modules and options available for a study were drawn from two departments within SOAS: Economics and Development Studies. Students will, therefore, benefit from studying with experts in a variety of fields of international development, and from the wide regional expertise in developing countries and development issues.

Who is this programme for?

The degree has been developed to meet the needs of both development practitioners and researchers on international development, including those wishing to pursue an MPhil/PhD in International Development. The programme will suit students with a variety of backgrounds in social sciences, including politics, sociology, economics, and so on. It would also meet the needs of people working, or hoping to work in international agencies, humanitarian organisations, and NGOs. Students with a strong interest in research and research methods will thrive on the MSc distinctive focus on training in research methods.


As you graduate from the MSc in Research for International Development, you will have an in-depth understanding of the main debates in international development, and, in particular, of the various methodological approaches underpinning different positions in these debates. You will have acquired foundations for the practice of quantitative and qualitative research methods in the social sciences. You will also acquire more generic skills, including how to organize and present your ideas, both in written form and in different presentational formats (including, for instance, Pecha Kucha style presentations, short project pitching, and more standard academic presentations summing up main contributions in a debate).

With a broad range of skills, MSc RID graduates are highly competitive in the labour market upon graduation and embark on a wide range of career opportunities. These include either the pursuit of doctoral studies, at SOAS or elsewhere, or jobs as policy advisers or researchers in international development, in the public, private sector or third sector.

Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

  • UK government in HM Treasury or the National Audit Office,
  • Overseas Development Institute
  • Centre for Global Development
  • Cleantech Group
  • Save the Children
  • International Development Enterprise
  • World Vision

Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:

  • Chief Head of Strategy
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Manager
  • Policy Advisor
  • Financial Analyst
  • Communications Consultant
  • Research Assistant
  • Researcher in Sustainable Technology Innovation


Students must take 180 credits per year comprised of 120 taught credits (including core, compulsory and optional modules) and a 60 credit dissertation.


  • Dissertation in Research Methods for International Development

Core Modules

A core module is required for the degree programme, so must always be taken and passed before you move on to the next year of your programme.

  • Battlefields of Method: Approaches to International Development Research
  • Statistical Research Techniques in International Development
  • Research Methods in International Development

Optional Modules

These are designed to help students design their own intellectual journey while maintaining a strong grasp of the fundamentals.

Choose modules to the value of 60 credits from the list below:

List of Modules (subject to availability)

  • Development Studies
    • Aid and Development
    • Agrarian Development, Food Policy and Rural Poverty
    • Borders and Development
    • Cities and Development
    • Civil society, social movements and the development process
    • Development Practice
    • Environment, Governance and Development
    • Energy Transition, Nature, and Development in a Time of Climate Change
    • Famine and food security
    • Gender and Development
    • Global Commodity Chains, Production Networks and Informal Work
    • Global Health and Development
    • Issues in Forced Migration
    • Marxist Political Economy and Global Development
    • Migration and Policy
    • Neoliberalism, Democracy and Global Development
    • Problems of Development in the Middle East and North Africa
    • Natural resources, development and change: putting critical analysis into practice
    • Security
    • The Working Poor and Development
    • Migrant Labour in the Global Economy
    • War to Peace Transitions
    • Water and Development: Conflict and Governance
    • Water Resources: Justice and Governance
  • Economics
    Students need to get approval from the Module Convenor in order to take modules from the list below
    • Economic development of Africa: microeconomic approaches
    • Economic development of Africa: macroeconomic approaches
    • Political Economy of Development and Change in the Middle East
    • Topics in the Political Economy of Contemporary Middle East
    • Economic Development in the Asia Pacific region
    • China's Economic Transformation
    • China and World Development
    • Political Economy of Development and Change in South Asia
    • Topics in the Political Economy of Contemporary South Asia
    • Economic Development of Japan
    • Economics of Environment and Development
    • Financial Systems and Economic Development
    • Gender Economics (PG)
    • Global Economic Policy Analysis
    • Global Production and Industrial Policy
    • Green Finance
    • History of Economic Analysis
    • Institutions and Governance
    • Limits to Growth? (PG)
    • Macroeconomics
    • Microeconomics
    • Theory of financial institutions & policy
  • Gender Studies
    • Gender in the Middle East

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session.

Admissions and Applications

You can apply for this course via the online application form.

We aim to assess a complete application and provide a decision within a 5-week time frame. Overseas students who require a Tier 4 visa and wish to join SOAS should bear in mind visa applications can take several weeks, so you should apply as soon as possible.

Consideration of Application

The whole application, including transcript and references, is considered before a decision is reached. You are therefore advised to submit a complete application including references and transcript (where required). An incomplete application will add considerable delays to the decision-making process.

Students will receive an acknowledgement of their application. Each application is carefully considered and although we try and respond as quickly as possible, we do ask that students should expect to receive a response within five weeks of receipt.

Candidates who are available in the United Kingdom may be called for an interview. The absence of academic members of staff (or instance on study leave) may affect the timing of decisions.

Entry Requirements

Normally minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in the social sciences, including some economics and/or political economy, and preferably a demonstrable interest in research and research methods. Work and other experience may be taken into account. Each student must attend the Preliminary Mathematics and Statistics module, and attend its exam. The preliminary module runs in September prior to the start of teaching in term one.

English Language Entry Requirements

You must be able to show that your English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete your course at SOAS. Please note that we take our English language requirements seriously and failure to meet them exactly may well result in your application to SOAS being rejected. It is not possible to negotiate if your scores are below our required levels, with the expectation that because they are 'close enough' they will be accepted. It is important that you plan appropriately, well in advance, so that your English language test comes in good time and so that you have time to retake the test if necessary. We do not accept reasons of inconvenience or financial hardship for not submitting or retaking an English test.

International students

For EU and International students who need a visa, if unconditional entry scores are achieved we accept qualifications from several countries, as well as a range of international qualifications and tests.

If a Tier 4 entry visa is required then a SELT, such as UKVI IELTS may be needed. For this reason, we recommend all Tier 4 visa students to choose the UKVI IELTS Academic test as the test of first resort.

Last updated Oct 2019

About the School

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues.

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues. Read less
London , Singapore + 1 More Less