MPhil/PhD in Development Studies
Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time
The Department currently has 52 research students, working on a range of research topics in many parts of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. We are particularly interested in potential research students who wish to work in one of the main Departmental Research Clusters, namely: Labour, Movements and Development; Neoliberalism, Globalisation, and States; Violence, Peace and Development; Water for Africa; Migration, Mobility and Development; Agrarian Change and Development; Development Policy, Aid, Institutions and Poverty Reduction.
Research students are encouraged to attend weekly training sessions to introduce them to a number of practical techniques and vocational skills utilized within the development profession; fortnightly seminars on topics relevant to Development Studies and, where appropriate, post-experience workshops.
Students are expected to upgrade from MPhil to PhD status after their first year.
It is expected that you will meet your assigned Supervisor in your first week at SOAS, and that, in consultation with your Supervisor, you will choose two other academics to serve on your research committee.
During the module of your first year, you are required to attend the Department’s Postgraduate Research Training Seminar. These sessions will provide you with the essential training in research methodology and will assist you in getting started: specifically, they will assist you in writing the constituent components of the ‘upgrade paper’ that you have to submit and defend in a viva in Term 3 of your first year.
Given the wealth of training resources in research methods and other theoretically and empirically relevant postgraduate modules across the Faculty and in other Faculties at SOAS, students are strongly encouraged to audit modules. Additional modules can be invaluable, especially for conceptual or area specific issues or topics, as ways to supplement the training imparted in the MPhil Seminars. The supervisor and the student will discuss at the beginning of the year the most suitable portfolio of training and modules in relation to the topic of the thesis, its main research questions and the setting in which the research will be conducted.
Schedule after the first year
Once students have passed their upgrade, they should immediately proceed with designing the details of the empirical work and organizing the drafts written in the module of the first year. As most Development Studies students will embark on fieldwork in their second year, it is important to keep the 3-year time limit in mind and to not postpone writing chapters until after the completion of fieldwork. Any writing done during that period will save crucial time in return.
Ordinarily, a student would then adhere to the following writing up schedule:
Terms 4, 5 and 6: Fieldwork, and beginning of data processing as well as drawing up of chapter templates;
Summer vacation of the second year terms 7 and 8: Data analysis and back to literature review to revise initial chapters and producing a full final draft;
Term 9: Reviewing the first draft, complete any required rewriting, and submission of the dissertation. There is a possibility of continuation of writing-up after term 9 but the thesis will have to be submitted in any case before the end of the 4th year. This will be the final deadline although the thesis is expected to be finished within three years of full-time active research.