SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

From Theory to Practice and Back: Work Placements in Migration Research

Module Code:
15PG NH010
Year of study:

This module aims to bridge theory and practice in the fields of migration and humanitarian practice, addressed to  refugees and migrants.

It is available to students enrolled in the MA Migration and Diaspora Studies. The module will have a strong applied component and will develop collaborations with migrant and refugee organisations and research centres in London. The course is organised in the form of internships and independent study projects, along with some class seminars. Students will have to develop a short applied project, in collaboration with research organisations, as part of their coursework and assessment.

The organisations listed below are enthusiastic to host work placements. Please read through the full list and explore the websites of the organisations that interest you. The specifics of each placement will be decided through discussions between you and the organisation. In order to enable you to make your selection, brief details of the kinds of activities that you will undertake as part of the placement are listed below.

Students undertaking this module in Term 2 must inform the Course Convenor of their 1st and 2nd choices of organisation by 09 October 2020 (end of week 2 of Term 1). Every effort will be made to match you with your preferred organisation. Once you have been matched to an organisation, you will then be asked to arrange an informal interview with the organisation’s contact person; this will help ensure mutual compatibility and productive placements. 

Many of the organisations have limited staff numbers and work with large numbers of people in need; once you have been placed with an organisation, you will have the opportunity to meet the contact person and discuss the details of your placement. Please respect workloads and keep your communications to a minimum prior to being formally assigned a placement.

NB. All students taking this module will receive credits and assessments from the organisation at the end of Term 2, however, some organisations require a minimum of 6 months commitment. or particular language skills from students wishing to undertake placements. Most organisations would be happy to explore longer term placements which is usually better for them and your CV. Please be sure to read the details indicated below each organisation to ensure you comply with their requirements. E.g. if you are planning to be away from London for most of the Spring Break in March/April 2021, please ensure that you do not choose an organisation that requires a 6 month commitment.

Between October and December 2020, we expect that the specifics of each placement – including duties, outputs and timeframe (e.g. 1 day per week over 10 weeks) – to be established between the individual student and your organisation, and a formal Work Placement Agreement signed by all parties, including the Course Convenor (students will be provided with the relevant documentation once assigned a placement).

All placements will start in January 2021 for a period of 3 or 6 months, depending on the organisation. Regardless of the length of the placement, towards the end of March 2021, we will ask the student’s principal supervisor at the organisation to complete a 1-page form assessing the student’s activities and contribution to the work of the organisation; this assessment will constitute part of the student’s final grade for the module.

For the 2020/2021 academic year, students may only undertake work placements at the organisations listed below. If you know of additional organisations that may be interested to host work placements in the future, please inform the Course Convenor. 

Organisations (in alphabetical order) available to host work placements:

198 Contemporary Arts & Learning – promotes social inclusion and diversity through art

Contact person/email: Lucy Davies -
Number of students to be hosted: 1
Examples of activities the placement will involve: communications, research and archival work
Duration of placement: January-March 2021 
Additional notes: 198 will be temporarily relocating for redevelopment in September, and will be able to specify the activities that a work placement could involve in October. 


Akwaaba - Sunday social centre for migrants in Hackney

Contact person/email: Mike Boyle -
Number of students to be hosted: 1-2
Examples of activities the placement will involve: volunteer recruitment and coordination, participate in Sunday social centre
Duration of placement: January-June 2021 (6 months)
Additional notes: Akwaaba does not have an office so students wishing to undertake this work placement must be ready to work independently, in addition to regularly attending Akwaaba’s Sunday social centre in Hackney. Students agree not to undertake research with people they meet at the Sunday social centre.


BID (Bail for Immigration Detainees) - provides legal advice for people trying to secure their release from detention 

Contact person/email: Rudy Schulkind -
Number of students to be hosted: 1-2
Examples of activities the placement will involve: Undertaking research projects that aim to shed light on and challenge immigration detention. Research projects will be within BID’s main focus areas: long-term detention; access to justice in immigration detention; detention of vulnerable adults; the use of prisons for detention under immigration powers; article 8 deportation. Activities involved will depend on the demands of particular projects but is likely to include:

  • Conduct interviews with people who are currently detained or who have experienced immigration detention
  • Conduct desk-based research using BID’s casework files, to gather statistics and case-study evidence to be used in research reports and other policy work
  • Internet based research examining work on immigration detention done by NGOs, academics, inspectorates, parliamentary committees, lawyers.
  • Make Freedom of Information Requests
  • Contribute to research reports or policy briefings

Duration of placement: January-March 2021

Additional notes: none


CTDC (Centre for Transnational Development and Collaboration) - promotes gender equality, women’s rights, the rights of sexual minorities and marginalised groups including refugees and asylum seekers in the Middle East

Contact person/email: Dr. Nof Nasser-Eddin - and Dr Nour Abu-Assab –
Number of students to be hosted: 1-2
Examples of activities the placement will involve: Students will work on a research project and policy briefs related to migration, refugeehood and displacement in the MENA region.
Duration of placement: January-March 2021

Additional notes: none


East European Resource Centre (EERC) - supports Central and Eastern European (CEE) migrants in London who experience poverty, exploitation and social exclusion

Contact person/email: Florina Tudose -
Number of students to be hosted: 1
Examples of activities the placement will involve: support with running our advice helpline, supporting our advisers with translations and case work, research, outreach amongst Eastern European communities in London, helping with the general running of the organisation
Duration of placement: January-June 2021 (6 months)
Additional notes: students interested in working at EERC must be fluent in an Eastern European language, preferably Polish or Romanian.


Hackney Migrant Centre (HMC) – provides advice and assistance to migrants in Hackney on immigration, welfare and health issues

Contact person/email: Daf Viney -
Number of students to be hosted: 1-2
Examples of activities the placement will involve: Students could take on roles as part of our advocacy and casework team or our access to justice team. There are also occasional research roles available, although this is dependent on our advocacy and campaign work.
Duration of placement: January-March 2021 – although the potential for longer placements could be explored.
Additional notes: We require a commitment to migrants’ rights and a willingness to undertake relevant training which we will provide.


Haringey Migrant Support Centre (HMSC) - provides advice and assistance to migrants in Haringey on immigration, welfare and housing issues

Number of students to be hosted: 1-2
Examples of activities the placement will involve: supporting visitors to the centre, providing legal support (e.g. helping with legal aid referrals), interviews and research over specific issues, casework, helping with the general running of the organisation
Duration of placement: January-March or June 2021 (flexible)

Additional notes: none


Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) - challenges conventional notions of diversity and difference through art

Contact person/email: Simina Neagu -
Number of students to be hosted: 1
Examples of activities the placement will involve: updating directory of artists and practitioners, developing outreach tours based on the collection, social media, event management.

Duration of placement: January-March 2021 (minimum)

Additional notes: Iniva will only host a placement if they feel a student is compatible with the roles available


Migrants Organise - grassroots platform where migrants and refugees connect and organise for dignity and justice for all

Contact person/email: Francesca Valerio -
Number of students to be hosted: 2-3
Examples of activities the placement will involve: Flexible: to be arranged with student.

Carry out a research project on area that is of interest to the organisation/student (e.g. analysing the benefits of English language course, writing blogs by collecting experiences of migrants, organising a class of story-telling, etc.).

Assist in community sponsorship projects (resettling families from refugee camps).

Development of fundraising skills.

Help with the evaluation of the programme and impact on members’ well being.

Development of one to one casework skills.

Support to volunteer mentors.

Duration of placement: January-April 2021 (ideally July 2021 if some students are available for such a period)


Migrant Voice – works to amplify migrant voices in the media 

Contact person/email: Anne Stoltenberg -
Number of students to be hosted: 1-2
Examples of activities the placement will involve: media and communications, conducting interviews, writing articles, research for our policy campaigns and reports, engage in our campaigns, support with organising events (e.g. leading up to Refugee Week), Migrant Voice’s 10th anniversary conference, take part in and help organise community events, support with project development and administration. Tasks to be tailored to students’ skills and experience.
Duration of placement: January-March 2021 (min. 3 months)

Additional notes: none


The Unity Project - supports people who have 'no recourse to public funds' (NRPF) who are facing homelessness or extreme poverty as a result of this condition 

Contact person/email: Caz Hattam - (NB. Caz is generally able to respond to email Mondays and Fridays only)
Number of students to be hosted: 1-2 

Examples of activities the placement will involve: 

  • data gathering
  • collecting parliamentary contacts
  • contacting MPs and councillors
  • project development work, e.g.:
  • small funding bids
  • fundraising events
  • garnering donations (e.g. children’s equipment, food, etc.)
  • updating website

Additional notes: Requirements:

  • Experience in a small, grassroots charity
  • Experience of research work
  • Enthusiasm, and ability to use initiative
  • A knowledge of the immigration system (in particular of the problems experienced by people with Limited Leave to Remain and/or ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Bridge theories in the fields of migration, diaspora and refugees studies with practice
  • Demonstrate an ability to inform practice with theories of displacement, exile, and forced migration
  • Critically assess humanitarian discourses, projects and knowledge production
  • Analyse practitioners’ work on migrants and refugees within cultural, humanitarian and social fields
  • Analyse the ways in which humanitarian practices contribute to shape representations of refugees and to affect policy making and public opinion
  • Evaluate and develop projects addressed to migrants and refugees.



Method of assessment

  • AS 1: 3000 words written evaluation and analysis of the work-placement experience by students (50%) Deadline: 12 June.
  • AS 2: One-page written evaluation-report from the organisation on the students' performance and activities during their internship/work-placement
    50% of the overall mark.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules