MSc African Development

  • Graduate taught
  • Department of International Development
  • Application code L8UA
  • Starting 2018


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

The programme employs political economy approaches to understand the variegated national trajectories of African states, regionalism and localism in politics and economics, and the political and economic forces that shape Africa's insertion into the global economy.

The objective of the programme is to track the causes and effects of the shifts in development theory and practice since the mid-20th 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. In addition to compulsory courses introducing African political economy and development policy, you will take a broad range of courses on topics including health, humanitarianism and development.

Programme details

Key facts

MSc African Development
Start date 27 September 2018
Application deadline None – rolling admissions. However please note the funding deadlines.
Duration 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time
Applications 2016 160
Intake 2016 36
Availability UK/EU: Closed
Overseas: Closed
Tuition fee UK/EU: £13,536
Overseas £20,904
Financial support Graduate support scheme (deadline 26 April 2018)
Minimum entry requirement 2:1 degree or equivalent in any discipline
GRE/GMAT requirement None
English language requirements Standard (see 'assessing your application')
Location  Houghton Street, London

For more information about tuition fees and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your application sections.

Programme structure and courses

You will take three compulsory courses to prepare you for your dissertation of 10,000 words on a topic related to development in Africa. You will also choose between a range of development courses, and select a further course or courses from a range of options within development and other relevant departments, including Anthropology, Gender Institute, Government, Geography and Environment, International Relations, Management and Social Policy.

(* denotes half unit) 

African Political Economy*
Explores similarities and differences in contemporary African states and social structures, and introduces different approaches to analysing African political economy. 

African Development*
Explores the political economy of African development, to examine processes of economic, political, social and cultural change in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Development: History, Theory, and Policy
Integrates the concepts and perspectives of a range of disciplines to consider social science approaches to major trends of development and change in modern history.
Development Management 
Employs a political economy approach to examine the causes of development and non-development. 
Key Issues in Development Studies*
Provides an overview of the key issues and debates in international development.
Complex Emergencies* 
Examines the consequences and causes of humanitarian disasters
International Institutions and Late Development* 
Examines the politics of the international economy 
Global Health and Development* 
Examines inter-relationships between emerging challenges to human health in the developing world and their socio-economic and political context 
Managing Humanitarianism*
Examines international, national and local responses to conflict and disaster.

Research Design and Dissertation in International Development
Combines a dissertation (an independent research project of 10,000 words, on an approved topic of your choice) with supporting lectures on research methods and the use of research in development practice.

Research Themes in International Development
Introduces students to the practical world of development which will both facilitate their `career paths’ and also prepares them for the consultancy projects, and introduces students to the interface between policy practice and development academia. 

Courses to the value of one unit from a range of options.

You can find the most up-to-date list of optional courses in the 
Programme Regulations section of the current School Calendar.

You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises.

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the updated graduate course and programme information page. 

Teaching and assessment

Contact hours and independent study

Within your programme you will take a number of courses, often including half unit courses and full unit courses. In half unit courses, on average, you can expect 30-40 contact hours in total and for full unit courses, on average, you can expect  60-75 contact hours in total. This includes sessions such as lectures, classes, seminars or workshops. Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide.

You will be expected to participate in many of the public and departmental lectures, conferences, and workshop series that take place throughout the year at LSE, as well as in the Africa Film Discussion Series that is organised for this programme.

You are also expected to complete independent study outside of class time. This varies depending on the programme, but requires you to manage the majority of your study time yourself, by engaging in activities such as reading, note-taking, critical thinking and secondary research.

Teaching methods

LSE is internationally recognised for its teaching and research, and therefore, employs a rich variety of teaching staff with a range of experience and status. Courses may be taught by individual members of faculty, such as lecturers, senior lecturers, readers, associate professors and professors. Many departments now also employ guest teachers, LSE teaching Fellows, graduate teaching assistants and visiting members of staff. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide.


All taught courses are required to include formative coursework which is unassessed. It is designed to help prepare you for summative assessment which counts towards the course mark and to the degree award. LSE uses a range of formative assessment, such as essays, problem sets, case studies, reports, quizzes, and mock exams to name a few. Two of the compulsory courses will require you to complete class assignments and formative essays, plus summer term exams. Other compulsory courses will also require formative essays and exams in the summer term. The MSc dissertation of approximately 10,000 words on a topic related to development in Africa allows you to tailor your studies to your academic and career objectives. An indication of the formative coursework and summative assessment for each course can be found in the relevant course guide.

Academic support

You will also be assigned an academic adviser who will be available for guidance and advice regarding academic or personal concerns.

There are many opportunities to extend your learning outside the classroom and complement your academic studies at LSE. LSE LIFE is the School’s centre for academic, personal and professional development. Some of the services on offer include: guidance and hands-on practice of the key skills you will need to do well at LSE: effective reading, academic writing and critical thinking; workshops related to how to adapt to new or difficult situations, including development of skills for leadership, study/work/life balance and preparing for the world of work; and advice and practice on working in study groups and on cross-cultural communication and teamwork.

LSE is committed to enabling all students to achieve their full potential and the School’s Disability and Wellbeing Service provides a free, confidential service to all LSE students and is a first point of contact for all disabled students.


Preliminary reading

You may want to get a start on reading some of the books and articles we will be using in our core course modules in 2016-17. Several of these provide important background information, and many aren't new texts. They are available at low-cost through used book sellers, including online book sellers.

Some texts below can be consulted (in part) on the open internet. Books will also be available at the LSE Library for 2-hour check-out (with limited numbers of copies) once you get here. Some key articles are also listed below. Articles and book chapters will be provided in your course e-packs, but you may want to take a look at some of the titles below before you get here. The list also introduces you to some of the faculty members you will meet in the International Development Department.

Consult the course guides for information on readings for each course.

Background texts that are widely available

D E Bloom J D Sachs, P Collier and C Udry Geography, Demography, and Economic Growth in Africa

C  Boone Political Topographies of the African State (Cambridge, 2003)

C Boone Property and Political Order in Africa: land rights and the structure of politics (Cambridge, 2014)

Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, vol. 1988, n. 2 (1998):207-295.

F Cooper Africa Since 1940 (Cambridge University Press, 2002)

K Hart The Political Economy of West African Agriculture (Cambridge, 1983)

J Herbst States and Power in Africa (Princeton, 2000)

M Mamdani Citizen and Subject: Africa and the legacy of late colonialism (Princeton, 1996)

T Mkandawire Thinking about Developmental States in Africa (Cambridge Journal of Economics, 2001 pp. 289-313)

T Mkandawire and C Soludo Our Continent, Our Future: African perspectives on structural adjustment (1999 African World Publications)

F Ngaruko and J D Nkurunziza An economic interpretation of conflict in Burundi (Journal of African Economies 9(3): 370. (2000))

B J Ndulu et al The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa: 1960-2000 (Cambridge, 2008)

S Radelet Emerging Africa: how 17 countries are leading the way (Center for Global Development, 2010)

W Reno Warfare in Independent Africa (Cambridge, 2011)

United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Africa: atlas of our changing environment (UNEP, 2008)

Other readings, widely available through university libraries' or online databases

M Akech Constraining Government Power in Africa  (Journal of Democracy, 22 (1): 96-106. 2011)

A Alao Natural Resources and Conflict in Africa: the tragedy of endowment (University of Rochester Press, 2007)

T Allen Ethnicity and Tribalism on the Sudan-Uganda Border, in Katsuyoshi Fukui and John Markakis, eds., Ethnicty and Conflict in the Horn of Africa (Ohio University Press). 

C Boone and N Kriger Multiparty Elections and Land Patronage: Zimbabwe and Côte d'Ivoire, Commonwealth and comparative politics (Vol. 48, n. 173-202. (2010)

C Boone Property and Political Order in Africa (Cambridge, 2014)

X Diao, P Hazell and J Thurlow The Role of Agriculture in African Development (World Development, 38(10), pp. 1375-83, (2010))

D Feyissa Decentralization as Ethnic Closure, with special reference to a declining negotiated access to natural resources in Western Ethiopia, Africa Development/Afrique Dévelopement (31/2: 243-260. (2006)

E Green Patronage, District Creation, and Reform in Uganda (Studies in Comparative International Development, 2010)

T S Jayne et al Land Pressures, the evolution of farming systems, and development strategies in Africa: a synthesis (Food Policy 48  1-17, 2014)

M Jerven Poor Numbers: how we are misled by African development statistics and what we can do about it (Ithaca, NY: Cornell U. Press, 2011)

O Kennedy African Elections: two divergent trends (Journal of Democracy, 23(3): 80-93. 2012)

M Kpressa and D Beland Mapping social policy development in sub-Saharan Africa (Policy Studies. 34/3 p. 326-341.)

G Lynch and G Crawford Democratization in Africa, 1990-2010: an assessment (Democratization (18/2 2011), 275-310))

L Mann Wasta! The Long Term Implications of Education Expansion and Economic Liberalization on Politics in Sudan (Review of African Political Economy,  (41(142).2014)

K Meagher Identity Economics, Social Networks and the Informal Economy in Africa (James Currey, 2010)

L. Ndikumana and J. K. Boyce Public debts and private assets: explaining capital flight from sub-Saharan African countries. (World Development 31(1): 107-130, 2003)

J Page Can Africa Industrialise? (Journal of African Economies, 21(suppl 2, pp. ii86-ii124. Oxford Journals, 2011)

I Taylor Africa Rising? BRICS – diversifying dependency (Oxford University Press, 2014)

M Thandika Patrimonialism and the Political Economy of Economic Performance in Africa: critical reflections (World Politics, May 2015: 1-50)


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 MSc African Development students, 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 programme.

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Support for your career

Many leading organisations give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search. Find out more about the support available to students through LSE Careers.

Student stories

Olivia Kolbe-Booysen

MSc African Development, 2013/14
United Kingdom

The African Political Economy course contributed to my understanding of international development by giving me the tools to examine contemporary development issues in Africa with an understanding of how these have been shaped by actions taken in the past. Having three professors who are experts in their fields lecturing on this course ensured that it covered a wide range of varied material and a range of different views.

Zamaswazi Nkosi

MSc African Development, 2013/14
South Africa

Some of my views on development were based on the idea that a neutral arbiter – like indigenous, localised systems – is the appropriate avenue for engagement on African development. The course has greatly challenged this view by highlighting the ways in which these ‘traditional’ hierarchies are anything but neutral. The most striking thing I learnt is the sub-regional dimension of national governance in Africa – that policies were adopted accounting for and balancing the varied sub-regional politics within the state.

Assessing your application

We welcome applications from all suitable qualified prospective students and want to recruit students with the very best academic merit, potential and motivation, irrespective of their background.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including predicted and achieved grades)
- personal statement
- two academic references
- CV

See further information on supporting documents

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency, although you do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE. See our English language requirements.

When to apply

Applications for this programme are considered on a rolling basis, meaning the programme will close once it becomes full. There is no fixed deadline by which you need to apply, however to be considered for any LSE funding opportunity, you must have submitted your application and all supporting documents by the funding deadline. See the fees and funding section for more details. 

Minimum entry requirements for MSc African Development

Upper second class honours (2:1) degree or equivalent in any discipline.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you meet the minimum entry requirement, this does not guarantee you an offer of admission. 

See international entry requirements 

Fees and funding

Every graduate student is charged a fee for their programme.

The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees 2018/19 for MSc African Development

UK/EU students: £13,536
Overseas students: £20,904

Fee status

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home (UK/EU) or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

Fee reductions and rewards

Students who completed undergraduate study at LSE and are beginning taught graduate study at the School are eligible for a fee reduction of around 10 per cent of the fee.

Please refer to the Fees Office website for updates.

Scholarships and other funding

The School recognises that the cost of living in London may be higher than in your home town or country, and we provide over £11.5 million in scholarships each year to graduate students from the UK, EU and overseas.

This programme is eligible for needs-based awards from LSE, including the Graduate Support SchemeMaster's Awards, and Anniversary Scholarships

Selection for any funding opportunity is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents, before the funding deadline. 
Funding deadline for needs-based awards from LSE: 26 April 2018.

In addition to our needs-based awards, LSE also makes available scholarships for students from specific regions of the world and awards for students studying specific subject areas. 

Check the latest information about scholarship opportunities

Government tuition fee loans and external funding

A postgraduate loan is available from the UK government for eligible students studying for a first master’s programme, to help with fees and living costs. Some other governments and organisations also offer tuition fee loan schemes.

Find out more about tuition fee loans
Find out more about external funding opportunities

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