MSc Violence, Conflict & Development


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time

Who gains from situations of conflict? In what ways can violence affect development? What are the challenges to post-conflict reconstruction? This pioneering programme explores the complex links between violent conflict and development, both historically and today.

Why study MSc Violence, Conflict and Development?

  • The degree has been developed to meet the needs of people working or hoping to work, in international agencies, humanitarian organisations, and NGOs.
  • Academics teaching on this programme are research-active and have links to international organisations and NGOs operating in conflict areas.
  • As a student, you will be trained to apply empirical methods and analytical skills to accurately determine the effects of violence.
  • You will be able to choose from a broad range of optional modules ­– so you can tailor your degree to your own interests and aspirations.

What will you study?

This programme examines the analytical, political and policy relationships between violence, conflict and development. The core module addresses empirical trends, difficulties of data collection and the importance of categorisation and boundaries to matters of violence. It goes on to present foundational theories on conflict and violence, including gender perspectives, debates about the origins of human violence (anthropological, historical, psychological sources of violence) and the role of violence in historical change.

The focus then shifts to the means, mechanisms and markers of violence, including themes related to boundaries, war economies, inequality, land and the environment. This provides the basis for analysing interventions in the violent conflict including humanitarian aid, conflict resolution and reconstruction.

Who should apply?

We welcome those who have worked in the field of development and/or conflict, but we also accept applications from students without relevant work experience who can demonstrate a strong interest in the major themes of the programme and a strong first degree, preferably in social science.


MSc Violence, Conflict & Development postgraduate students leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek. These include analytical skills, the ability to think laterally and employ critical reasoning, and knowing how to present materials and ideas effectively both orally and in writing. A postgraduate degree is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate. Graduates from MSc Violence, Conflict & Development have gone on to work in a range of different organisations, including Development and Human Rights Organisations, and many have continued in the field of research.

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

  • NGOs such as ActionAid, Action Against Hunger, Action on Armed Violence, Amnesty International, BOND, Canadian Cooperatives Association, Christian Aid, Church World Service, Climate Action Network, Conciliation Resources, Concordis International, Crisis Action, Danish Refugee Council, Doctors Without Borders, Fairtrade International, Foundation Rwanda, Global Witness, GlobalOne, Greenshoots, International Committee of the Red Cross, International Alert, International Rescue Committee, International Land Coalition, INTRAC, Islamic Relief, Jimmy Carter Institute, Landmine Action, Médecins Sans Frontières, MERCY Malaysia, Minority Rights Group, Oxfam, Peace Corps, PLAN International, PeaceWorks, Peace Direct, Refugee Action, , Saferworld, Save the Children, Skills for South Sudan, The Climate Group, Tearfund, Victim Support, VSF Germany.
  • Research, media, consultancy and private sector, for example Acumin, Adam Smith International, African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, BBC World Service, The Beckley Foundation, Bloomberg LP, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo Laboral y Agrario, Bolivia, Coffey International Development, Control Risks, Crown Agents, Diligence LLC, FC Business Intelligence, Food Economy Group, Frontline, HEC Paris, Institute for Human Development, Institute of Education, Institute for Public Policy Research, International Centre for Migration Policy Development, Integrity Research and Consultancy, Mekong Economics Ltd, Open Democracy, Open Society Foundation, Outlook Magazine, Overseas Development Institute, Oxford Policy Management, PwC, Rift Valley Institute, Saana Consulting, SOAS University of London, Triple Line Consulting and the Washington Post,
  • Government, UN and international organisations including various UK government agencies (such as Department for International Development, Cabinet Office, House of Commons, Youth Justice Board, British Army, Royal Navy, Charity Commission, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames), Korean, French and Venezuelan diplomatic services, the Japan Foundation, Swedish Migration Agency, GIZ Society for International Development, European Commission, NATO, International Labour Organization, International Organization for Migration, UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, UNICEF, World Health Organization, World Food Programme, UN-Habitat, World Bank.


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

Asylum Case Officer, Campaigner, Charity Worker, Communications Officer, Consultant, Country Director, Defence Policy and Strategy Analyst, Development Economist, Editor, Education Coordinator, East and Central Africa Projects Manager, Emergency Programme Manager, Finance Officer, Financial Analyst, Food Security and Livelihoods Consultant, Fundraising Officer, Gender Programmes officer, Global Policy Consultant, Humanitarian Policy Advisor, International Mobilisation Coordinator, International Programmes Officer, Journalist, Lawyer, Logistics Manager, Marketing Executive, Middle East Intelligence Analyst, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Office Manager, Operational Support Officer, Outreach Worker, Parliamentary Intern, Photojournalist, Political Researcher, Programme Coordinator, Project Manager, Refugee Resettlement Caseworker, Researcher, South Sudan Project Manager, Sponsorship Co-Ordinator, Strategy Adviser, Women and Peace Building Specialist.


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 Development Studies

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.

  • Political economy of violence, conflict and development

Compulsory Modules

A compulsory module is required for the degree programme, so must always be taken, and if necessary can be passed by re-taking it alongside the next year of your programme.

  • Political Economy of Development
  • Theory, policy and practice of development
  • Anthropology of Development

Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from the Development Studies modules list below.

Optional Modules

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

Choose module(s) to the total value of 30 credits from:

  • Module(s) from the Development Studies list below to the value of 30 credits.
  • Open option modules to the value of 30 credits from another department.
  • Module from the Development Studies' list below to the value of 15 credits.
  • Open option modules to the value of 15 credits from another department.

List of modules (subject to availability)

  • Agrarian Development, Food Policy and Rural Poverty
  • Aid and Development
  • Battlefields of Method: Approaches to International Development Research
  • 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
  • Fundamentals of research methods for Development Studies
  • 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
  • Natural resources, development and change: putting critical analysis into practice
  • Neoliberalism, Democracy and Global Development
  • Problems of Development in the Middle East and North Africa
  • 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

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

Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent). Relevant work experience may also be considered.

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
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