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MSc Violence, Conflict & Development

Course Description

Who is this programme for?:

The Violence, Conflict and Development programme attracts applicants with a variety of academic and working backgrounds. We welcome those who have worked in the field of development and/or conflict, but we also welcome 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 a social science.

The degree has been developed to meet the needs of people working, or hoping to work, in international agencies, humanitarian organisations, and NGOs.

As the pioneering programme of its kind internationally, this MSc programme develops detailed empirical knowledge and analytical skills for understanding the complex linkages between violent conflict and development, both historically and today. It enables students to explore these linkages both within specific country and regional contexts and in the context of global interdependencies and the ways these affect peace, war, and non-war violence.

The programme introduces students to competing analytical approaches. It is multi-disciplinary though shaped by a particular interest in political economy. It encourages deep case study knowledge. And it offers students the ability to tailor their choice of optional courses and dissertation research to their own interests.

The MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development draws on the exceptional expertise at SOAS in different disciplinary understanding of development challenges and processes as well as the strong commitment among all teaching staff to area expertise. Staff teaching on this programme are research active and have a range of links to international organisations.

The programme is of interest for development practitioners, activists, and students with a scholarly interest in the patterns of violence internationally, in how violence affects development, and in how the uneven processes of development themselves may both generate violence and generate mechanisms for containing violence.

Highlights include:

- Zoe's Blog! (http://vcd-soas.blogspot.co.uk/) A convenor's-eye view of the MSc Violence, Conflict and Development programme

- Exploration of the long history of theories of human violence

- Relationships between violence and long-run historical change

- The concept of a continuum of violence

- The relevance of historical and more recent evidence that the process of structural change involved in ‘development’ is inherently conflictual and often violent

- To what extent democratisation is a mechanism for securing perpetual peace

- The challenges of understanding gender based violence

- Whether abundant natural resources, or high levels of inequality, or clear markers of religious or ethnic difference are clear sources of violent conflict

- How highly localised violent conflicts are connected to processes of global economic development

- The challenges of post-conflict reconstruction and ‘war to peace transitions’

- The role of NGOs in causes of, dynamics of, and responses to conflict

- Explaining the prevalence of high levels of non-war violence

- Explanations of the political economy of – and alternative perspectives on – terrorism

- Students can draw on SOAS's unique expertise to specialise further in particular regions or topics. Please see Postgraduate modules for details on core and optional modules.

Visit the website http://www.soas.ac.uk/development/programmes/mscviolconfdev/


- Overview
There are four main components to this degree: three taught modules and a 10,000 word dissertation. All students take a core module, Political Economy of Violence, Conflict and Development. They then select one of three ‘development’ modules: Political Economy of Development; Theory, Policy and Practice of Development; or Anthropology of Development. Through these modules, students build their analytical skills and their knowledge of the main issues and debates in Development Studies. A distinctive feature of the core module is that students put together a group case study presentation.

- Specialisation
Students also take optional modules (one full unit module or two half-unit modules). By tying these to their individual dissertation topic, students design their degree to suit their own interests and career development goals.

Students should be aware that not all optional modules may run in a given year. Modules at other institutions are not part of the approved programme structure.

Programme Specification

Programme Specification 2015/16 (pdf; 97kb) - http://www.soas.ac.uk/development/programmes/mscviolconfdev/file101806.pdf


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.

Teaching & Learning

Modules are taught by a combination of methods, principally lectures, tutorial classes, seminars and supervised individual study projects.

The MSc programme consists of three taught modules (corresponding to three examination papers) and a dissertation.

- Lectures

Most modules involve a two hour 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 for each unit that they take, and are expected to write papers that often require significant independent work.

- Dissertation

A quarter of the work for the degree is given over to the writing of an adequately researched 10,000-word dissertation. Students are encouraged to take up topics which relate the study of a particular region to a body of theory.


MSc Violence, Conflict & Development postgraduate students leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek. These include analytical skills, presentation 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 continuted in the field of research.

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 Violence, Conflict & Development page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!

All Available Videos:

Student Profiles

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

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

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