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MSc Political Economy of Development

Course Description

The MSc in the Political Economy of Development is the latest addition to a portfolio of Masters programmes offered by the Department of Economics, and is designed for economists who want to concentrate on applied theory and to expand their regional expertise.

The MSc is a taught masters degree consisting of eight course modules taught by lectures, classes and tutorials and an 8,000 word dissertation.

There are four core units and four optional modules that make up the course.
The precise modules available vary from year to year, but include units on Agriculture, Finance, the Environment, Industry and International Macro- and Microeconomics.

Eight in-depth regional economic development modules are also available, covering:

- Africa
- The Asia-Pacific region
- The Middle East
- South Asia

All students are required to complete the compulsory preliminary course in Mathematics and Statistics (including Computing) to begin studying on this programme. This course is taught over a three week period from the beginning of September covering mathematics, statistics and computing. For further information about this course including a timetable please see here: Preliminary maths and Statistics Course (https://www.soas.ac.uk/courseunits/15PECC050.html)

Visit the website http://www.soas.ac.uk/economics/programmes/mscpolecondev/

Programme Specification

Programme Specification 2015/2016 (pdf; 57kb) - http://www.soas.ac.uk/economics/programmes/mscpolecondev/file39836.pdf

Teaching & Learning

The MSc includes eight taught modules plus a preliminary course in Mathematics and Statistics and an 8,000-word dissertation.
The courses are taught in seminar groups and lectures. The degrees are awarded on the basis of assessed coursework, examinations and the dissertation.

The MSc degrees are taught over a period of twelve months of full-time study within a structured programme. In the case of part-time study, the degrees will be taught over two or three years. Four modules are studied each year, with the dissertation normally being completed in the second year.

- Lectures

Most courses involve a 50-minute lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes.

- Seminars

At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work. Students make full-scale presentations and are expected to write papers that often require significant independent work.

- Dissertation

Students are required to complete an 8,000-word dissertation in applied economics.

Learning Resources

- SOAS Library

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.

Pre Entry Reading

- Preliminary Mathematics and Statistics Course

Our MSc programmes attract students with a wide range of backgrounds including many who have worked for a few years before coming to SOAS. Our popular quantitative courses are designed to be accessible to all of our students including those with a relatively small quantitative component in their first degree. Our well-received quantitative courses focus on applying basic methods used in empirical research. They equip students to carry out their own high quality empirical work and critically evaluate research, with relatively little emphasis on advanced econometric theory and mathematical proofs.

Our quantitative methods teaching begins with a three-week preliminary course in mathematics, statistics and computing.
The objective of the course is to review the basic quantitative skills assumed once formal teaching commences. This course is compulsory. Further details on the Preliminary Mathematics and Statistics Course.


A postgraduate degree in Political Economy of Development from SOAS equips students with a range of important skills to continue in the field of research as well as a portfolio of widely transferable employability skills valued by a wide range of employers. These include numeracy, analytical thinking and general skills such as organisation and effective communication skills. Graduates will develop their regional expertise as well as an advanced understanding of issues of development in their political and economic context. In addition the study of Economics gives students particular problem solving skills including: abstraction, analysis, quantification, strategic thinking and adaptability.

Postgraduate students from the SOAS MSc in Political Economy of Development have followed successful careers in both academic work and also in international banking and financial analysis, in national governments in many parts of the world, in international development agencies and in a range of non-government organisations. 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.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website (http://www.soas.ac.uk/careers/graduate-destinations/).

Find out how to apply here - http://www.soas.ac.uk/admissions/pg/howtoapply/

Visit the MSc Political Economy of Development page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Anita Nwachukwu

I came to SOAS because of the inter-disciplinary nature of the courses that I would get to study.

I’ve really enjoyed my study so far, in particular the flexibility my teachers have shown when it comes to open discussion in the classroom. Also, I’ve liked the strong emphasis made to underline the uniqueness of contexts and countries. This highlighted the important fact that policy solutions to development issues could not be applied as generic blueprints to every country.

SOAS is an amazing place, it has the most interesting lectures and events pertaining to a whole range of relevant issues. While being lectured in class by world experts in the field of development, SOAS events have also allowed me to hear and meet some of the originators of many of the ideas taught in class! Being at SOAS almost feels like being seated at the forefront of policy debate and this is what I enjoy the most.

When talking about SOAS I cannot ignore activism. It is is a big part of the institution, for example the political activism that pervades the Schools’ student body. It is quite refreshing/empowering to be part of a community that takes an active and clear stance on important issues

(Student Profile)

Damian Burns

Having completed an undergraduate degree in Economics at SOAS I, like many others, found it difficult to say my goodbyes to friends, lecturers and the ever welcoming Students’ Union bar to finally enter the real world. So I enrolled in a Master’s course. It was not only my personal connection with the institution, having been so heavily involved in Student Union organisation and politics that led me to the decision to stay, but I also felt that I had only scratched the surface of my potential level of engagement and critique of economic theories within academia. I was left with a thirst to continue engaging with the debates within radical heterodox economics and political economy.

The Economics MSc offered by SOAS is unique in a number of ways. We house some of the most respected heterodox economists in the world, who respect and engage with every student. At SOAS you are encouraged to not play by the rules, and the level of critique of both theory and empirics at which you are expected to engage makes the programme like no other in the UK. The variety of course options, from hard-core microeconomics to economics of the environment, means that all interests are covered. This, for me, is truly special.

One of the most special things about SOAS is the people. You do not have ‘colleagues’ or ‘course-mates’; you have friends. We share knowledge, we do not compete, and that is a spirit which is valued by all here, from the lecturers to research students, masters and undergraduates. I learn more from talking and engaging with people than I could ever do out of any book.

SOAS is a place where people find a home, and that is why so many, like myself, always seem to return; be it to study, protest, debate, or even just have a cup of tea.


Canon Collins Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

These scholarships are for Masters study in any subject field.
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.

Value of Scholarship(s)

See website


Country/Nationality: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Application Procedure

See the website

Further Information



SOAS Master's Scholarships - Faculty of Law and Social Sciences - 16 Awards

There are six SOAS Master's scholarships available in the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences. Each is valued at £16,765 each in total. Fees will be deducted from this amount and the remainder will be used toward maintenance. In addition to these six SOAS Master's scholarship, the Faculty will offer an extra 10 scholarships, each valued at approximately £1,500.Candidate Assessment:
- Candidates will be assessed on academic merit by an Advisory Panel consisting of at least three academic members of the Faculty. - The assessment of your application will be based on the information provided in your scholarship application and in your on-line admission application for admission. Selectors will be looking at the degree results and also at academic references, statement and other relevant information.Scholarship Application Deadline
- Scholarship applications must be received no later than 17:00 (UK local time) on 24 February 2016. - In order to be considered for this scholarship, you must ALSO submit a complete online application to the degree programme as soon as possible and then submit an application for the scholarship. Applicants applying for scholarships must also submit an application for admission well in advance. Please note that complete applications for admission can take up to 4 weeks to be considered by the Department, although this duration can vary depending on the time of year. - You should prepare to wait up to 6 weeks in busy periods.

Value of Scholarship(s)



- Applicants must possess or expect to be awarded a First Class Honours Degree or equivalent. Students with a non-UK degree to be adjudged in the top rank by their referees and transcript.
- This scholarship is open to UK/EU applicants only.
- Applicants must have an offer of admission to pursue one of the eligible full-time masters programmes at SOAS by the scholarship application deadline.
- The scholarship cannot be held along with any other major scholarship or studentship.

Application Procedure

You must apply for this scholarship via the on-line scholarship application form

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Good undergraduate degree in, or including, Economics

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