Research at the Department of Development Studies

The Department of Development Studies is a world-leading research-led department, known internationally for its critical approach to development.

We have unrivalled expertise of regional development in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, and an outstanding reputation for the study of non-Western development processes and systems of thought.

Our academics and research students work across a wide spectrum of development-related issues that are centrally important to the greatest challenges facing our planet. We aim to shape global debates in the department’s core areas of research.

Research clusters

Our research is organised around a set of core research clusters and workstreams within them.

  • Global Labour, Activism and Social Justice Cluster (comparative labour relations, global supply chain capitalism, labour regimes and standards, social reproduction and feminist political economy, labour activism and social movements, urban development and digital platform work, gender, caste and race)
  • Conflict, Peace and Development Cluster (war to peace transitions, states and armed conflict, displacement, war economies / illicit economies, humanitarian action and conflict, peace)
  • Agrarian Change and Development Cluster (agrarian change, agrarian transitions, agrarian questions of capital and labour, agrarian transformations, rural class formation)
  • Migration and Development Cluster (migration, diasporas, mobilities, remittances, asylum and detention, borders and governance of migration)
  • Environment Cluster (political ecology, environmental justice, environmental inequalities, climate change vulnerability, governance of natural resources)

In addition, our staff work on a variety of other key themes such as governance and development, industrial policy and economic transformation, taxation and fiscal states, global health and non-state actors in health delivery, COVID-19 and polycrisis, climate finance and public banks, politics and development in the Middle East, coloniality, and intersectionality.

The department's research work connects with a number of research centres, including the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy, the Development and Transformation Centre, the Centre for Water and Development and Centre for the Study of Illicit Economies, Violence and Development, and many colleagues are active in several other SOAS research centres.