Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD) in Development Economics SOAS University of London
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
The PhD in Development Economics is a research degree offered by the Department of Economics, and is also part of the PhD pathway, 'International Development', within the Bloomsbury Doctoral Training Partnership. The latter forms one of the few Centres recognised by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), thereby receiving financial support, and especially individual grants, for MSc and PhD students.
Why study PhD Development Economics at SOAS
We are 12th in the UK for course satisfaction Guardian League Tables 2021 and 5th in London Complete University Guide 2021. This PhD pathway is open to applicants whether or not eligible for, or in receipt of, ESRC funding, with ESRC-funded students expected to form a small minority overall. Successful applicants to the MPhil/PhD in Development Economics will normally have a good Master's degree in a relevant subject if entering directly into the MPhil/PhD pathway although each applicant is assessed on merits including work and other experience.
The first year of training involves attendance at courses and/or seminars but not usually formal written examinations. Students are registered for an MPhil in their first (full-time equivalent) year but usually, convert to a PhD after their upgrade viva rather than continuing to the MPhil qualification.
An essential feature of the MPhil and PhD process is the close working relationship between research students and supervisors. Supervisors and students meet regularly and consult closely. All research students have a Supervisory Committee to cover theoretical, empirical and regionally-specific supervision, as appropriate.
Scholarships and Funding
Scholarships, funding and ESRC recognition
There are a number of scholarships available to research (and MSc) students at SOAS, but it is a condition of acceptance that students embarking upon a research degree have the capacity to fund the full duration of their studies. There may be some paid opportunities for teaching, normally not in the first year, but these cannot be relied upon and will not begin to cover fees and maintenance fully.
Students are required to participate in a workshop/seminar in which research topics and results are presented and discussed by staff and students. In addition, there is a regular Departmental seminar, to which members of the Department and visiting speakers present papers.
There is a strong interdisciplinary basis for research and teaching in political economy, development economics and area or specific country studies. London, moreover, provides an unrivalled opportunity for students to hear papers read by leading authorities in African and Asian studies, as well as in economics and development more generally.
Many SOAS research students spend some time doing fieldwork in the regions of their research. The Faculty of Law and Social Sciences and the School as a whole, through their various connections with individuals and institutions in the universities and governments of Asia and Africa, can usually facilitate this with personal contact and introductions.
The research degree embodies a core of training in research methods combined with a clear structure of progression thereafter. The training components are explained below. The duration and structure of the research degree will be as follows:
Full-time research degree: 3 years plus 1 year writing up
- Year 1: Research Training: research students will take the 'Research Methods for Development Economics' course in the Economics Department.
- Year 1: Upgrade: Students will normally be expected to pass an upgrade from MPhil to PhD status within 9 months of commencing the degree.
- Year 2-3: Research: Core research undertaken; primary and secondary data collection as appropriate, thesis chapters finalised.
- Year 4: Write Up: If necessary a fourth year can be taken to write the final thesis. Examination of the thesis will take place after submission within the 4th year.
Part-time research degree: 6 years plus 1 year writing up
The research degree can be undertaken over 6 years:
- Research Methods course must be taken over the first two years.
- Upgrade: will take place within 21 months after initial registration.
- Examination: this will take place after submission within the writing-up year (year 7) at the latest.
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session
- To encourage and enable students to complete an original thesis in the expected time.
- To provide training and experience in fieldwork and across a variety of schools of economics and in a variety of statistical techniques.
- To allow flexibility in training to suit students with different backgrounds and subsequent research needs.
- To make available and to monitor first-class research supervision with the involvement of at least two members of staff through individual Research Student Supervisory Committees.
- To encourage knowledge of other relevant disciplines and the adoption of an interdisciplinary approach where appropriate.
- To equip students with the ability to assess one another's work critically, whether in response to the written or spoken presentations.
- To obtain language skills as appropriate.
- To ensure students experience a congenial and productive environment for the conduct of research through the availability of a wide range of facilities and full participation in the intellectual life of the Department and School. Library facilities are outstanding and computing facilities are attuned to student needs.
- To emphasise the relevance of research to theoretical, empirical and policy issues.
- To draw upon the Department's particular strengths, especially its expertise in different approaches to economic problems and its experience in problems of development, specific regions, and comparative analysis.
- To involve students in the specialised Centres of the School where appropriate.
- To advise on publication and career progression.
A broader student-tailored programme of training needs can also be established in the first weeks of study, with a range of courses available from the Department’s MSc programmes. To this end, all students should undertake a Training Needs Analysis with their supervisor in the first weeks of Term 1.
Economics graduates leave SOAS with a solid grounding in statistical skills and an ability to think laterally, take a global perspective, and employ critical reasoning.
Recent graduates from the Department of Economics have been hired by:
- NHS England
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office
- Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
- National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi
- University of Bayreuth
- HM Treasury
- Department for International Development
- King’s Investment Fund
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office
- The World Bank
- British Chamber of Commerce
- European Commission
- Institute for Social and Economic Studies
- International Climate Change Economics
- Overseas Development Institute
English Language Requirements
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