MSc/PGDip/PGCert Climate Change and Development


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Online Learning

Climate change is the most significant challenge to achieving sustainable development globally, threatening current patterns of growth and poverty reduction whilst creating global injustice and vulnerability. Yet we are well placed with the knowledge and solutions to simultaneously tackle the crisis, meet the Sustainable Development Goals and improve the lives of people all over the world.

Businesses, governments, development agencies and NGOs alike now seek to integrate low-carbon and climate-resilient approaches into their work. The Climate Change and Development programme equips students with a grounding in the conceptual and practical dimensions of mitigation of and adaptation to climate change as they relate to development issues.

Why study MSc Climate Change and Development at SOAS?

  • This online degree is designed to meet the needs of people working on or hoping to work on, climate change and development issues, including in businesses, government, international agencies and NGOs.
  • The online format enables students to study for an MSc degree alongside work, caring or other commitments. Postgraduate Certificate and Diploma options are available for those unable to meet the commitments of the full MSc.
  • The degree brings together a cohort of students from around the world into online discussions, led by specialist seminar tutors and convened by international experts.
  • The modules draw from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, concepts and methods including economics, environmental science, human geography, social development, political economy and environmental law.
  • The degree draws on research and professional experience from colleagues working on climate change across SOAS, a university with an international reputation for its work in the Global South.

What will you study?

The core module for the MSc provides a multidisciplinary understanding of climate change processes and their direct and indirect interactions with development. It describes the main climate change processes, scenarios and vulnerabilities, and international and national policy responses. Contributions and sensitivities to climate change in different sectors (and options for mitigation and adaptation responses) are identified, with their implications for policies and outcomes for different economies, and for people’s livelihoods within them. It aims to provide students with a foundational, multidisciplinary understanding of core issues and processes, and their interactions with development and with poverty and poverty reduction.

Students will be best equipped to respond to, and anticipate the rapidly changing science, environmental and social/political/economic contexts of climate change by education in integrative core processes. Learning is contextualised with relevant applied explanations and case studies.

Students can then select elective modules from a range of topics spanning climate change and sustainable development issues (see Structure tab above).

What will you learn?

This programme equips students with the skills and understanding to:

  • Develop the analytical skills to solve adaptation problems and identify low carbon development options.
  • Contribute to producing the next generation of environment and development professionals working on climate policy and practice.
  • Offer critical insight into how current development models produce environmental problems like climate change, which themselves threaten the objectives of development.
  • Pose the question of what magnitude of change is required to confront the problems of climate change: do we need reform or revolution?
  • Provide the most academically gifted students with a route into PhD studies on climate change and development.

Who should apply?

We welcome applications from those working in the field of sustainable development who wish to further their skills and understanding on climate change. We also encourage applications from those with a strong first degree but without relevant work experience, who can demonstrate a strong interest in climate change and development issues.


This programme is designed to assist both existing professionals working within the sustainable development sphere, and people seeking to move into climate change and development fields. For existing professionals, the programme provides the opportunity to upgrade and update their expertise, and to reflect systematically and in-depth on their accumulated experience in the light of up-to-date theory and literature.

Graduates of Climate Change and Development go on to apply their learning in the private and public sectors, international organisations, NGO's, consultancies and development involved in:

  • Policy analysis and implementation
  • Project design and management
  • Corporate and government climate change strategies
  • Social enterprise development
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Technical assistance and capacity development
  • Academic and applied research


Climate Change and Development is available as a Master of Science, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.

Modules will be completed one at a time, over a 16-week study session. Study sessions occur twice a year, beginning in April and October.

Programme structures*

  • MSc: four modules, comprising one core (30 credits), at least one elective module (30 credits each) from list A and up to two elective modules (30 credits each) from list B below. You will also be required to complete a dissertation (60 credits). In a typical two-year MSc programme cycle, the dissertation is completed in four eight week stages. These stages take place in between the normal study sessions, but a study in term time is also permitted.
  • PGDip: four modules, as per the requirements for MSc students, but will not be required to complete a dissertation (thereby gaining 120 credits in total).
  • PGCert: one core module and one module from List A.

*Programmes must be completed with the registration period.


Core: Climate Change & Development

List A Electives (choose 1-3)
Climate Change Adaptation
Low Carbon Development
Energy and Development

List B Electives (choose 0-2)
Food Security and Social Protection
Gender and Social Inequality
Global Environmental Change and Sustainability 
Understanding Poverty 
Urban Sustainability
Water and Land Management for Sustainable Development

Additional List B modules will be offered through other SOAS programmes. The first two modules to be offered in this way will be Global Public Policy and Human and Critical Security. It is our intention to expand the number of additional List B modules over time.

Sample two-year MSc schedule

The schedule below shows how your MSc will progress over two years, through the completion of four x 16-week subject modules and four x 8-week dissertation sessions. Each year consists of two sessions. The first session starts in mid-October, and the second starts in mid-April.


Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session.

Admissions and Applications

You can apply for an Online and Distance Learning programme via our online application forms.

The application process

  1. Submit the online application form.
  2. If successful, you will be offered a conditional place on the basis of the submission of your supporting documentation.
  3. You submit your supporting documentation to verify your qualifications – this information can also be submitted at the time of application.
  4. Once verified you will be offered an unconditional place on the programme.

We aim to assess your application and respond within 10 working days.

Entry Requirements

A good first degree in an appropriate subject area, as accepted by the University of London, and a high level of English language ability in reading and writing and in study skills.

Master of Science (MSc)

Direct entry to the MSc requires a good first degree in an appropriate subject area, as accepted by the University of London. You will be expected to complete four modules (30-credits each) plus a dissertation (60-credits).

Postgraduate Diploma

Entry to the Postgraduate Diploma requires either a degree or technical or professional qualification and experience considered appropriate by the University. You will be expected to complete four modules (30-credits each), with no dissertation component.

Postgraduate Certificate

This has similar entry requirements to those for the Postgraduate Diploma.

You will be expected to complete two modules (30-credits each), with no dissertation.

English Language Entry Requirements

For all of our modules, you are required to have a high level of English language ability in reading and writing and in study skills.

If your first degree was not taught in English, you will need to provide evidence of language ability. You will meet the English language requirement if you have passed any of the following within the past three years:

  • (IELTS) International English Language Testing System (Academic) with an overall score of 7.0 or above, including a minimum of 7.0 on the written sub-test.
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) with an overall score of 67 or above, including a minimum of 67 attained on each of the reading, writing, speaking and listening elements.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English with an overall score of 185 or above, including a minimum of 185 attained on each of the reading, writing, speaking and listening sub-tests.
  • (TOEFL) iBT Test of English as a Foreign Language with an overall score of 95 or above, including a minimum of 24 attained on the reading and writing skills sub-tests and a minimum of 25 attained on the speaking sub-test and 22 attained on the listening sub-test.
Last updated Jul 2020

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.

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. Read less
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