797B From Theory to Practice and Back: Work Placements in Migration Research

Key information

Start date
End date
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

This module aims to bridge theory and practice in the fields of migration, diaspora and humanitarian practice. It is born from the belief that knowledge and practice produced by grassroots organisations, activists, practitioners and artists should be intertwined with academic knowledge and validated as part of a real decolonising effort. This course at SOAS is uniquely positioned to bridge theory and practice and offers students a fantastic opportunity to not only learn in London but engaging with one of the most diverse and vibrant cities in the world. “SOAS in London, London in SOAS” is the core idea behind this course.

The module is available exclusively to students enrolled in the MA Migration and Diaspora Studies. The module consists of internships within migrant and refugee organisations, diaspora and BAME art and cultural collectives, and research centres based in London. Class seminars will be normally limited and organised in the forms of clinics and talks by the partner organisations.

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 are available on the course page, accessible to enrolled students.

Students undertaking this module must inform the module convenor of their 1st and 2nd choices of organisation by the end of week 4 of Term 1. Every effort will be made to match you with your preferred organisation. Once you have been matched to an organisation, we will arrange an informal interview with the organisation’s contact person; this will help ensure mutual compatibility and productive placements.

Between October and December of any given academic year, 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 module convenor (students will be provided with the relevant documentation once assigned a placement).

All placements will start in January of any given academic year for a period of 3 or 6 months, depending on the organisation. Regardless of the length of the placement, towards the end of March, 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.

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

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

Akwaaba - Sunday social centre for migrants in Hackney
Contact person/email: Mike Boyle - hello@akwaaba.org.uk.

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

Counterpoints Arts – a leading national organisation in the field of arts, migration and cultural change.

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

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

Equality Act Review Campaign - The Equality Act Review’s core aim is to strengthen the Equality Act 2010 through parliamentary lobbying producing policy impact.

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

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

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

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

Migrant Voice – works to amplify migrant voices in the media

Migration Museum - explores how the movement of people to and from Britain across the ages has made us who we are – as individuals and as a nation.

Ubele Initiative –facilitates group learning, brings together a culturally diverse and intergenerational group of community activists and changemakers to promote change, appointed by the Greater London Authority as the main regional BAME infrastructure organisation for London.

P21 Gallery - an independent London-based charitable trust established to promote contemporary Arab art and culture.

SOAS Collaboratory Race, Accountability and Listening project – a newly funded project aiming at contributing to improve equality, diversity and inclusion at SOAS, by producing research, surveys and critical analysis of the SOAS student body in relation to race, racism, mental health, accessibility and career development.

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

The London Migration Film Festival - utilises the power of art and expression to examine the experience, reality and issues within migration, displacement and diaspora


  • This module is open only to students on the MA Migration and Diaspora Studies and the MA Migration and Diaspora Studies + Intensive Language. It is a guided option.
  • This is an internship placement that requires advance arrangements. Prospective students are advised to contact the convenor well before the term begins.

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.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules