Our Aims and Objectives

We are the UK association for all those who research, study and teach global development issues

Find Out More

What is Development Studies

What is development studies and decolonising development.

Find Out More

Our Members

We have around 1,000 members, made up of individuals and around 40 institutions

Find Out More


Find out about our constitution, how we are run and meet our Council

Find Out More


Meet our Council members and other staff who support the running of DSA

Find Out More


The DSA Conference is an annual event which brings together the development studies community

Find Out More


Our conference this year is themed "Social justice and development in a polarising world"

Find Out More

Past Conferences

Find out about our previous conferences

Find Out More

Study Groups

Our Study Groups offer a chance to connect with others who share your areas of interest

Find Out More

Students and ECRs

Students and early career researchers are an important part of our community

Find Out More


Our book series with OUP and our relationship with other publishers

Find Out More

North-South Research

A series of workshops exploring North-South interdisciplinary research with key messages and reports

Find Out More

Membership Directory

Find out who our members are, where they are based and the issues they work on

Find Out More

Spotlight on IDD Birmingham

It’s an exciting time to be profiling the International Development Department at the University of Birmingham, as 2024 marks the institute’s 60th anniversary. Part of their celebrations link to a new publication titled The Politics of Development. The Politics of Development is more than just a book though – it is a pathbreaking introduction to the controversial, contested and deeply political topic of development, written in an engaging and readable style that makes it essential for anyone studying and researching across the development discipline! What makes the book standout is that it’s a genuine collaboration across the entire department, edited by five members of IDD, led by Dr Claire Mcloughlin, with 21 colleagues contributing to the individual chapters.

Department collaborations

“Writing the book has been a truly great process of sitting down and thrashing out how we see development, especially the politics of development,” says Professor of Politics and Development and Head of Department at the University of Birmingham, David Hudson

“As a result of working together on the book, we collectively came up with – what we think is! – a good definition of what development is. International development is the process of contestation around alternative desired futures.”

Hudson explains: “It’s not that one takes a political science lens to study development challenges, because actually the idea of development is political in itself. If we think of development as change, then we need to think ‘who is that change for?’ and ‘who helps to define what that change is?’ Rather than us define or predetermine what change is, we think that the process of contestation is itself the heart of development. We all have different interests in how the future looks and it’s that process which for us defines what development is.” 

From humble beginnings 

This new position is a long way from the IDD’s start in 1964, when it was known as the Institute of Local Government and based its research on governance and governments, and delivered training to newly independent post-colonial public administrators.”

“Governance and governments is still a really strong thread that runs through all of IDD’s teaching and research, but IDD has now changed so that our focus is also on governance and politics across many different issues and sectors. For example, in gender inclusion, disability, security, the environment, food, health, as well as institutions and democracy. Our work is now more global, we take a more universal perspective and underline the inequalities of power and historical legacies that shape outcomes.”

Reflecting on the future 

“Part of our 60th anniversary year is about reflecting long and hard about where we have come from, where we are at and where we are going,” says Hudson. “We are asking what it means to be a northern-based development studies department going into the future. This means we must think about our role, our global partnerships and the divisions of the thought and labour between north and south and what authentic partnership means. It means being humble and focussing on shifting the power.”

The 60th anniversary of the Department is also focussing their future on the big and long standing questions such, as how to organise political authority; how to think about inclusion around the axis of gender ethnicity, race, disability; how to ensure that the future is sustainable? Colleagues in the department are also addressing connected questions around climate, conflict and migration, and a world that is increasingly embracing AI.

Preparing students for future challenges

“Those questions are all areas that IDD colleagues are actively working on. How we do it is important, but the challenges facing the next generation mean we need to look ahead, not only looking at the present and the past.”

Addressing those future questions is IDD’s cohort of students, who are made up of a new undergraduate programme of nearly 100 students (the first cohort graduated in 2023); 300 postgraduate students across five Masters of Science and three Masters in Public Administration; and a PhD programme. 

Postgraduate students come from around the world and are taking a break from their careers to enhance their skills before returning to roles in government, administration, business, and civil society within their home countries. “This makes teaching a joy because of the rich experience they bring and their understanding of the mechanics and the way government works,” reflects Hudson. 

Research applied through partnerships

IDD has strong and well established links to policy and practice in different forms, such as formal seconded positions and sitting on advisory groups within the FCDO, through to board membership with large NGOs such as Oxfam, and advising private foundations and working with local civil society organisations.

This focus allows IDD to work with partners to identify what needs to be researched in the first place and stakeholders are involved in co-producing and co-designing relevant research proposals grounded in real world challenges. Examples include:

  • a longstanding working relationship with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy around legislatures, democracy, democratic backsliding and ways to engage or not with authoritarian governments  
  • a decade of working with the Australian government through the Developmental Leadership Program to develop how local leadership can be best supported
  • the Development Engagement lab with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which looks at the attitudes of citizens in donor countries and developing countries towards global challenges, and how they support development co-operation on migration and climate change
  • the Serious Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Evidence (SOC ACE) research programme with the FCDO which examines transnational corruption, crime and illicit finance.

But Hudson also points out that the Department is not just a functional applied research organisation that is merely helping improve policy, it also balances policy practice with critical work. “IDD colleagues are incredibly critical; critical of power but also critical of their own work in the endeavour of development studies, the history of it and whose voices count.”

Being a DSA member 

IDD is a pre-eminent member of the DSA. “We get so much from hearing what the others do and having conversations and sharing the experiences and challenges we face,” says Hudson. “The DSA is truly collegiate and I am struck by how much there is a desire and willingness to work together when we could see each other as competitive organisations,” says Hudson, citing without prompting from us, the DSA’s recent statement on UKRI and collecting shared responses and learnings about the REF.

If you’d like to connect to IDD researchers, visit their website, and sign up for their newsletter. They will also be at the DSA2024 conference in London with panels and papers on the following: