United Kingdom, London

NGOs and Social Movements: The Politics of Protest and Change

when 3 July 2017 - 21 July 2017
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 7.5 ECTS
fee GBP 1500

This course provides a critical introduction to NGOs, the nature and impact of social protest, how they have interacted and influenced each other, and how they have globalised. It questions the perception that NGOs offer an alternative to state-led or top-down development models, considers the concept and the use of humanitarian intervention in diverse contexts and explores the extent to which social movements are posing a challenge to neoliberalism. It examines both the theoretical basis for NGO and social movement strategies for social change as well as their practical implications, and draws on a number of case studies, exploring what kind of development and change is possible.

The massive expansion of the NGO sector around the world since the 1980s is widely recognised. At the same time, the emergence of neoliberalism has directed the shift from public to private sector-led development, including the privatisation of aid. NGOs have been a vital part of this shift, with increasingly significant roles in mainstream development processes and increased access to state funds. The rise of NGOs into a veritable global industry has been matched by a diversification in the types of roles NGOs play in society. In addition to delivering relief and promoting social and economic development, NGOs have increasingly taken part in broader governance, democratisation and peacebuilding efforts.

Students will conduct field research by participating in a protest or demonstration and undertaking a short practical exercise, either a photo essay or short video, which they will present to their classmates on the last day. There will also be various film screenings, followed by debate and discussion as well as guest lecturers, who will share different aspects of the challenges of NGOs and social movements, from a professional perspective.

Course leader

Dr Feyzi Ismail

Target group

Current students, professionals + leisure learners

Course aim

On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

A critical understanding of the key theoretical debates on NGOs, including an understanding of the various roles both international and national NGOs play in processes of development and social change.
An understanding of the relationships between NGOs and a range of other development actors, and knowledge of how these relationships have evolved.
A capacity to identify, understand and critique a range of theoretical approaches for understanding contemporary development NGOs and apply these approaches to practical case studies of NGOs.

Credits info

7.5 ECTS
Please note that summer courses are not accredited by SOAS.

Students are usually able to obtain credits from their home institution and typically our courses receive 3 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to claim credits from your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you enrol. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to award credits rests with your home institution.

Assessment will be optional and will vary for each course. Participants will be provided with a certificate of attendance and transcripts will be available on request.

Fee info

GBP 1500: Tuition
A tuition fee of £1500 will be charged per 3 week programme. This figure does not include accommodation fees.

An early bird discount of 10% is available if fees are paid by 17 April 2017.

15% discount for SOAS Alumni or if you take a combination of sessions 2 and 3.
20% discount for current SOAS students and our partner institutions.
Other discounts are available for groups, please contact us for further information.

Application fee
A one-off, non-refundable application fee of £60 will be charged to cover administration costs. Please visit the SOAS online store to make your application fee payment.

Accommodation is available at an extra fee of £710 for 20 nights. For more details of how to reserve a room please our accommodation page.


SOAS, University of London offers a limited number of scholarships. Please check the website for full details