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MSc African Development

Programme Director: Professor Catherine Boone

The African Development programme aims to provide students with a high quality academic introduction to the study of politics, economic development and economic policy in Africa.

The objective of the programme is to track the causes and effects of the shifts in development theory and practice since the mid-twentieth century. These have exerted powerful effects on public policy in Africa. A focus on specific events and places within the continent will be set within the global context of institutional, environmental and technological transformations shaping Africa's future.

All students taking this MSc programme will be introduced to African political economy and development policy via two core courses dedicated to these areas. These are supplemented by a broad range of courses on topics including health, humanitarianism and development (full details to be found below).

Please also see the Graduate Prospectus for further details.


Students will complete four full units:

  • One core full unit consisting of two 10-week half unit courses: "African Political Economy" (Michaelmas Term) and "African Development" (Lent Term)
  • One full unit made up of pre-determined courses (see below for more details)
  • A 10,000-word dissertation on a topic related to development in Africa, worth one full unit and including a research methods course
  • Two further units made up of half or full unit optional courses.

Students are expected to participate in many of the public and departmental lectures, conferences, and workshop series that take place throughout the year at the LSE, as well as in the Africa Film Discussion Series that is organised for this MSc course in Michaelmas Term.

Core courses: African Political Economy (DV435) and African Development (DV418)

The African Political Economy course is an introduction to the study of contemporary African political economy. The goal is to set major questions of state, national economy and development in historical, geographic and international context. Course readings and lectures stress marked unevenness in national and subnational trajectories and in the political-economic character of different African countries, drawing attention to causes of similarity and difference across and within countries. Students will come away with a better understanding of the economic and social underpinnings of order and conflict in African states. Read more about the course here.

The African Political Economy course has been designed to provide a good analytical and empirical base for the African Development course. In this course, analysis centres on understanding the major structural features of contemporary African economies and the debates that have shaped economic development strategies and policies over time. The course focuses on understanding taxation, savings and investment profiles and policy; sectoral issues and regimes; shifting international trade and aid regimes; and regional trade regimes and other key arenas of policy innovation and debate. Read more about the course here.

Other core courses

In addition to the two half-unit core courses, students on the African Development programme will also take one full unit made up of either "Development: History, Theory and Policy" OR "Development Management". Alternatively, students can choose to take the half unit course, "Key Issues in Development Studies", plus one of the following half unit courses: "International Institutions and Late Development"; "Global Health and Development"; "Complex Emergencies"; or "Managing Humanitarianism".


At the end of the year, students will submit a 10,000-word dissertation on a topic related to development in Africa. It is compulsory and worth one full unit towards the degree.

Students are able to meet with their academic advisers or other members of staff throughout Michaelmas and Lent Terms to discuss their dissertation topic. Students will initially submit a topic summary of 50-100 words in Week 4 of Lent Term. They then write a more detailed research proposal towards the dissertation on their chosen topic under the supervision of one of our staff through individual sessions. Research proposals will form the basis for discussion in dissertation workshops, which are compulsory and held during the second week of Summer Term, and must be approved before proceeding to write the dissertation.

Read more about the dissertation here.

Optional courses

Students will take two units made of half or full unit optional courses, which will allow students to shape their studies to their own needs and interests. These can be chosen from courses offered within the Department of International Development or from a large number of offerings from other Departments and Institutes within the School such as Anthropology, Economics, Government, Geography and Environment, International Relations, Management, Social Policy, Law, and Gender.

View the full-year programme with compulsory and optional courses here.


The programme aims to recruit students from all over the world and will consider all applicants with degrees in any subject.  A first degree in the social or policy sciences will provide useful skills and background. The course also welcomes applicants with backgrounds in fields related to health, earth sciences and natural resource management, agriculture, engineering and business. As the programme requires intensive reading across a broad literature drawn from the various social science disciplines, students must have high proficiency in English to perform well.

How to apply

Applications must be submitted using the online LSE application. Please read through the provided guidelines on how to apply carefully and follow the instructions. 

Applications for the 2016/17 academic year will open October 2015. Please note that we often fill the programme by January/February for October start, so we advise you to submit applications between October and December if possible.


Many LSE International Development students go on to pursue PhDs in related disciplines, and we anticipate that many African Development students will follow this path. We also expect that African Development graduates, like other International Development students, will find opportunities in international aid agencies, NGOs, government agencies, the media and research positions that allow them to employ the skills gained on the African Development degree programme.

MSc African Development student fees 2016/17


Full-time: £12,504
Part-time: £6,252


Full-time: £19,344
Part-time: £9,672

For updated information on student fees, please refer to LSE's table of fees.

Financial Support

There are a range of awards available for students taking taught MSc programmes. Approximately 19 per cent of taught masters offer holders are successful in obtaining some form of financial support from the School, and others are able to secure external funding. Listed below are a few options of financial support. For more information, please visit the Financial Support page.

Graduate Support Scheme

LSE's major financial support scheme for study at taught masters level is the Graduate Support Scheme (GSS). This scheme is open to all applicants from all countries in the world, with the exception of those undertaking specific modular or executive programmes such as the MSc in Finance (Part time) or the MSc in Health Economics, Policy and Management.

The Scheme is designed to help students who do not have sufficient funds to meet all their costs of study. GSS awards range in value from £3,000 to a maximum of £12,500, and have an average value of £6,000.


Application to the GSS is via the LSE Graduate Financial Support Application form. This form will be made available to you once you have submitted an application for admission to the School. Please read through the information upon receipt and look for the deadline to submit applications.


If you complete the LSE Graduate Financial Support Application form and are made an offer of admission before the closing date for applications, you will also be automatically considered for any other awards being offered by LSE, for which you are eligible, with the exception of Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funding where there are separate department led processes in place. AHRC and ESRC funding is relevant to Home UK and Home EU applicants only, and there are also subject restrictions in place.

We offer a range of awards based on different criteria such as a specific programme of study, nationality, or country of permanent domicile.

In addition, a number of external organisations offer funding to support postgraduate study. We recommend that applicants follow up as many avenues as possible to find funding. Please be aware that if you accept funding from an external source, it is your responsibility to check the terms of the award. Some awards are accompanied by specific terms and conditions which you should be sure you able to meet before accepting the award.

Click here for information about other awards offered by LSE or external organisations.

Please take some time to look at all the other awards available to support your study at LSE. The details of these awards are updated each October, but new LSE awards may become available during the course of the admissions cycle. We will only write to successful applicants for these awards. Selection for these awards will take place between May and July 2015 and all successful applicants will be notified by 31 July 2015.

Standard Bank Derek Cooper Africa Scolarships

Standard Bank Derek Cooper Africa Scholarships provide funding for students applying for MSc African Development, and who are ordinarily resident in one of Standard Banks African presence countries, with a preference for residents of South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique and South Sudan. 

The scholarship will provide £30,000, towards the fees for the programme and the remainder towards living costs. These scholarships are designed to provide the opportunity for students who currently do not have the financial means to pursue further studies of this nature.

To be considered for this scholarship, you must have completed the 2016/17 LSE Graduate Financial Support Application form and received an offer of admission (conditional or unconditional) by 5pm UK time on 27 April 2016. You must complete Section G - Personal Statement.

For more information please see the LSE’s Financial Support Page. 

LSE Master's Awards (LMA's)

LSE Master’s Awards are part of LSE’s portfolio of funding for Postgraduate Taught Master’s students. The primary scheme for graduate students is the Graduate Support Scheme (GSS), which is designed to supplement other funding secured by a candidate (by way of savings, loans, and external scholarships).

Shortlisting for named awards is done from the long list of offer holders whose financial need is too great for the GSS, and who have indicated on their financial support application that they wish to be considered for other scholarships (by providing further information in the personal statement of the LSE Graduate Financial Support Application).

As named awards vary from year to year, a fund is set aside to provide a small number of LMA’s for those candidates who are not eligible for named awards, because of their restricted criteria. LMA’s are also used to supplement named awards where the latter are insufficient to meet the shortfall of the eligible candidate.

Preference is given to those from low and middle income countries, particularly if loan funding is not available or if those countries are under-represented in other award schemes administered by the School.

Awards can range in value from £5,000 to a full award and are made on the basis of financial nee

Scholarships for UK/EU students

There are a number of scholarships of varying amounts available to students from the UK and/or EU. Click here for more information on the available awards.

You can find more information on the LSE's Financial Support page.

There are a number of scholarships of varying amounts available to students from the UK and/or EU. Click here for more information on the available awards.

You can find more information on the LSE's Financial Support page.

Scholarships and awards for African students

LSE and external organisations have made available a number of fund for students from countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Awards range from partial to full scholarships that also cover a living stipend. Offer holders who can have African nationality will be eligible to apply for the Programme for African Leadership, an extracurricular leadership programme available for African students studying one-year taught programmes at LSE.

Click here for a list of scholarship and funding opportunities by country.