Mode of Attendance: Full-time or part-time
Students are encouraged to examine critically the relationship between labour, capitalism, development and poverty. We investigate labour in the contemporary social and economic development of the Global South as well as established and emerging social movements of labour in local, national and international spaces. You will learn to identify and evaluate the relationship between collective agency, policy and vice-versa.
A virtual or physical placement in an organisation promoting collective and progressive social change will enable you to develop an understanding of how a social movement or a union deal with such issues in practice.
We work in a seminar/tutorial formats that encourage critical thinking and participation via an emphasis on the relationship between theory and practice. Programme lecturers are not just researched active. We are also activists and have experience of participation in labour and social movements across the world - Latin America, Africa and Asia and Europe and have on-going contacts with such movements as well as with NGOs and international organisations. We are well-placed to work with you on applying a deep understanding of collective movements to the challenge of working in development, development-related organisations and beyond into education and corporate social responsibility at various levels and scales.
Students can draw on SOAS’s unique experience to specialise further in particular regions and topics. Regional expertise at SOAS allows students of MSc in Labour, Activism and Development to specialise in some of the most dynamic parts of the developing world. Students also benefit from the wide range of modules on offer, both within the department and across the School, allowing them to create individualised interdisciplinary programmes.
The programme’s emphasis on transferable analytical skills will be of great benefit to graduates who return to or take up, professional careers in international organisations, government agencies and non-governmental organisations and movements.
The department has a Labour, Movements and Development research cluster which carries out research activities linked to labour, social movements and development.
- Placement with active labour or social movement organisation.
- Labour process and organisations: development trajectories and divisions in the South.
- A comparative history of labour and social movements in countries such as China, Korea, India, South Africa, Brazil and the Middle East.
- Corporate social responsibility initiatives, codes of conduct and anti-sweatshop campaigning.
- The impact of neoliberalism and globalisation on workers in the South.
- Informalisation of labour, casualization and precarious work and the rise of the Gig economy.
- The feminisation of labour.
- The worst forms of exploitation: forced labour, child labour and Modern Slavery.
- Rural labour, migrant labour and labour in Export Processing Zones.
- Household and reproductive labour.
- The International Labour Organisation, international labour standards and decent work.
- Practices and theories of local, national and international labour campaigns.
- An assessed group project that allows students to apply acquired knowledge to ‘virtual’ practice.
Who is this programme for?
The programme is for students who wish to understand how labour and collective agency impacts on core processes of development. Our students acquire skill sets that combine theory and practice of labour, social movements and how they interplay with key developmental themes and interventions.
The programme is relevant to students with a strong background in the social sciences in their first degree as well as practitioners and activists from a wide spectrum of organisations and approaches.
An MSc in Labour, Activism and Development 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.
Specifically, Labour, Activism and Development degree from SOAS provides graduates with a portfolio of widely transferable skills sought by employers. These include analytical skills, the ability to think laterally and employ critical reasoning, and the ability to present materials and ideas effectively. Graduates are able to continue in the field of research including PhD research at SOAS or other academic institutions
Graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of different kinds of organisations, for instance, International Labour Organisation, American University of Beirut, London Borough of Hackney, Urban Justice Centre New York, Public World, Human Dynamics, British Red Cross, the Just Enough Group, and Jyoti Fair Works, International Transport Federation, Paces Charity, Palestine, International Centre for Migration Policy Development, Asia Monitor Research Centre, Labour Behind the Label and Profunfo.
Examples of roles taken up include Policy Officer, Research Officer, Union Organiser, Community Organiser, CEO, Digital and Communications Officer, Junior Technical Officer, Child Protection Social Worker, Analyst, Operations Manager, Photographer, Consultant.
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
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.
- Labour, Activism and Development
- LSMD Placement
Students also take one of the following:
- Theory, policy and practice of development
- Political Economy of Development
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.
Choose modules to the value of 15 credits from the Development Studies modules list below.
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
- Famine and food security
- Energy Transition, Nature, and Development in a Time of Climate Change
- 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
- Migrant Labour in the Global Economy
- Water and Development: Conflict and Governance
- Water Resources: Justice and Governance
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.
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.
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.
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.