SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Development Studies Research

The Department of Development Studies is a world-leading research-led department. 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. They include poverty, inequality, income-generation, agrarian relations, neoliberalism, globalisation, migration, conflict, and environmental sustainability. We also have a strong body of expertise, drawing on the work of several colleagues, on governance for development in Africa. Our research combines a critical approach to the major development issues and themes of the today, with an in-depth expert knowledge of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Our research is recognised globally for its challenge to development orthodoxies, innovative methods, contribution to cutting-edge theory and debate, and relevance to policy-makers and those planning and managing interventions.

Our research work is organised around seven major Research Clusters: Agrarian Change and Development; Development Policy, Aid, Institutions and Poverty Reduction; Labour, Movements and Development; Migration Mobility and Development; Neoliberalism, Globalisation and States; Violence, Peace and Development; and Political Ecology of Environment and Development. We also house the Centre for Water and Development, a major resource for interdisciplinary and comparative research on water governance and resource management. Many colleagues and research students belong to several clusters.

Our focus in these cluster areas is the provision of cutting-edge analysis with a view to creating an empirically- and contextually-grounded engagement with theoretical debates in these fields.

Expertise in research interdisciplinary methods:

Development Studies is by definition an interdisciplinary field, and a key strength of the department is its profound engagement in inter- and multi-disciplinary research. Members of the department come from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, including anthropology, ecology, economics, history, geography, politics and, political-economy, history, geography, ecology, and economics. This enables us to engage with multiple perspectives on each issue, and provide more nuanced, contextual and empirically-grounded analysis.

Our staff engage with debates and discourses that fall outside the mainstream orthodox approaches, as well as those within, creating a heterodox research environment in which we collaborate with scholars from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

The department also engages to a large extent with policy and practice, speaking to issues of current concern, and working with policy-makers, donors and other organisations involved in development practice. Its members carry out policy-focused research for donors such as DFID, for major international NGOs, and contribute to generating data and knowledge of specific regions such as the Horn of Africa to inform UK and EU policy-making in relation to migration from that region.