Dr Susan Dodsworth

Dr Susan Dodsworth

International Development Department
Research Fellow

Contact details

International Development Department
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Susan is currently a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham's International Development Department. Since January 2016, she has been working on the Political Economy of Democracy Promotion Project. The project is a collaboration between the University and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Susan is a founding member of REPRESENT, the Research Centre for the Study of Parties and Democracy, a collaboration between the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham.

Susan's personal website can be found here.


  • PhD in Political Science, McGill University, Canada, 2016
  • Masters in Development Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden, 2010.
  • Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, the Australian National University, 2007.
  • Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws, with first class honours, the Australian National University, 2006.


Susan completed her PhD at McGill University (Canada) in 2016. Her doctoral thesis examined the impact of budget support on parliaments and accountability in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of her doctoral research, Susan conducted fieldwork in Malawi, Uganda and Zambia.

After completing her PhD, Susan spent a year at the University of Oxford’s Department of Politics and International Relations as a postdoctoral fellow.

Susan also has qualifications in law, from the Australian National University, and a Masters in Development Studies from Uppsala University in Sweden.


Susan is currently working on the Political Economy of Democracy Promotion project, a collaboration between the University of Birmingham’s International Development Department and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), the UK's most prominent democracy promotion organisation.

WFD, funded by the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, works to support parliaments, political parties and civil society organisations around the world.

The project aims to identify the conditions under which democracy promotion activities are successful and how they can be improved. It will produce a series of policy papers that help practitioners to make their programmes more effective, and will establish new avenues of communication between academics, policy makers, and practitioners working on democratisation.

Susan’s broader research interests include democratisation, the politics of international development, and the interaction of state-capacity and democracy. Although her fieldwork has – to date – focused on sub-Saharan Africa, she is also interested in the politics of South East Asia.


Peer reviewed articles

Dodsworth, S. and Cheeseman, N., (2018) ‘Ten challenges in democracy support – and how to overcome them’, Global Policy, (Early View, available online).

Dodsworth, S. and Cheeseman, N., (2018) ‘Political risk in development: Learning from the UK’s democracy aid‘, Public Administration and Development, 38(2): 53-64.

Dodsworth, S. and Cheeseman, N., (2018) ‘The promise – and pitfalls – of collaborating with development organizations in Africa’, African Affairs, 117(466): 130-145.

Dodsworth, S., (2017) ‘How does the objective of aid affect its impact on accountability? Evidence from two aid programs in UgandaJournal of Development Studies, 53(10): 1600-1614. 

Policy papers

Dodsworth, S. and Cheeseman, N., (2017) 'Defending democracy: When do parliaments protect political space?', London: Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Dodsworth, S. and Cheeseman, N., 2017. From strategy to implementation: The case of civil society, London: Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Dodsworth, S. and Cheeseman, N.,2016. More than ideology, more than elections: A strategic approach to sister-party support, London: Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Dodsworth, S. and Cheeseman, N., (2016) Navigating Trade-offs in Parliamentary Strengthening, London: Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Dodsworth, S., (2012). The Policy Implications of Evolving Aid Modalities, Montreal: Institute for the Study of International Development.

Selected blogs and other articles

Dodsworth, S., (March 2017), Are we measuring what really matters? Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Dodsworth, S., (March 2017), Can democracy supporters let civil society be itself? Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Dodsworth, S., (October 2016), Political parties: Hard to work with, impossible to ignore, Democracy in Africa.

Dodsworth, S., (August 2016), Finding windows of opportunity for political reform, Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Dodsworth, S., (July 2016) Should we abandon the sister-party approach to democracy promotion?, Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

A full list of blogs and other non-academic articles is available here.

View all publications in research portal