Professor David Hudson

Professor David Hudson

International Development Department
Professor of Politics and Development
Director, Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) and Co-Director, Development Engagement Lab (DEL)

Contact details

International Development Department
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

David Hudson is Professor of Politics and Development at the University of Birmingham and Director of the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP). He is also Head of the International Development Department.

He has written widely on the politics of development, in particular on the role of coalitions, leadership and power in reform processes and how development actors can think and work politically as part of the Developmental Leadership Program; the drivers of global migration, finance and trade and how these processes shape national development; and how people in rich countries engage with global development issues, as part of the Gates Foundation's Development Engagement Lab and the Aid Attitudes Tracker before that.

Current and recent research projects involve fieldwork or data collection in Fiji, France, The Gambia, Germany, Indonesia, Jamaica, Myanmar, Rwanda, Senegal, Solomon Islands, UK, and the US and uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, including survey data, network analysis, as well as experiments, text analysis, interviews and focus groups.

He has held grants from the ESRC, British Academy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Leverhulme Trust.


  • PhD in Political Science, University of Birmingham, 2004
  • MA in European Political Economy, University of Birmingham, 2000
  • BSocSc (Hons) in International Studies with Political Science, University of Birmingham, 1996


Does your social circle determine how much you care? | David Hudson | TEDxBrum

David is currently the PI and Co-I on 2 large research projects: (1) the Developmental Leadership Program (funded by the Australian Aid Program) with Dr Claire Mcloughlin and Professor Chris Roche, (2) the Development Engagement Lab (formerly the Aid Attitudes Tracker (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) with Professor Jennifer vanHeerde-Hudson (UCL).

He is also part of the IOM-DFID funded project MIGCHOICE looking at migrant decision-making in West Africa with Dr Cassilde Schwartz and Dr Miranda Simon, and previously part of the Migrant Networks, Decisions, and Immigration Policy (Leverhulme Trust), alongside Professor Shane Johnson and Dr Cassilde Schwartz and Dr Miranda Simon.

David joined the University of Birmingham in March 2017 after nearly 12 years at UCL, in the Department of Political Science. Prior to joining UCL he was an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Birmingham (2004-05).

In 2013 David was a British Academy Mid-Career Fellow working on the project ‘Public Engagement with Global Poverty’.

In 2016 he was a Visiting Research Fellow, Institute for Human Security and Social Change, La Trobe University, and a Visiting Fellow, Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University.

David has also taught at the Universities of Birmingham, Nottingham, and SOAS.


Postgraduate supervision

David is interested in supervising PhD dissertations in the following areas:

  • Public engagement with development, global challenges, citizenship
  • The politics of reform processes with an emphasis on leadership and coalitions
  • How donors think and work politically
  • International political economy of development

He is interested in supervising projects that employ qualitative and/or quantitative methodological approaches. Ideally, a careful and complimentary use of both.


Research Interests

  • Public engagement with development, global challenges, global citizenship
  • The politics of reform processes with an emphasis on leadership and coalitions
  • How donors think and work politically
  • Migration and migration decision-making

Current Projects

  • The Developmental Leadership Program with Dr Claire Mcloughlin (UoB) and Professor Chris Roche (La Trobe) (2019-22, funded by the Australian Aid Program).  Through the DLP I am exploring how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development. The DLP is an international research initiative that focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development. For more information see:
  • The Development Engagement Lab (DEL) (formerly the Aid Attitudes Tracker AAT) with Professor Jennifer vanHeerde- Hudson (UCL) (2013-­2018, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, £310,500 of overall budget of £1.7m), A 5­-year, 4­-country project tracking a panel of individuals (8000 people in the UK and 5000 each in France, Germany and the US). We survey the same people every 6 months and use dynamic panel modelling techniques to understand when and why their attitudes towards development change. We are augmenting the survey analysis with experimental work to see whether and how people’s attitudes can be shifted by providing information, reframing, different messaging, triggering different emotional responses, and varying the messenger. For more information see:
  • MIGCHOICE led-by Professor Richard Black (UoB) and Dr Christina Oelgemöller (Loughborough) (2019-2021, funded by the IOM and DFID, £1.4m). The project examines the effect of development interventions on migration choices, from the assumption that . As part of one of the projects work packages Dr Cassilde Schwartz, Dr Miranda Simon and me are building an Agent Based Model (ABM) to capture the complexity and nonlinear nature of migration dynamics. This will allow us to systematically test the effects of different interventions on migration aspirations in different contexts. The model is data-driven using surveys and a field experiment around a livelihoods intervention. The approach builds on previous work we have done modelling migration decision-making

Other activities

  • Director, Developmental Leadership Program
  • Co-Director, Development Engagement Lab
  • Consultancy for AusAID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Comic Relief
  • Independent Commission for Aid Impact, Ethics peer review panel
  • Advisory roles for UK Department for International Development, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Governance Cadre training for the UK Department for International Development


Recent publications


Mcloughlin, C (ed.), Ali, SAM (ed.), Xie, K, Cheeseman, N (ed.) & Hudson, D (ed.) 2023, The Politics of Development: Institutions, Incentives, and Ideas. SAGE Publications, London.


Simon, M, Schwartz, C & Hudson, D 2022, 'Covid-19 insecurities and migration aspirations', International Interactions, vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 309-326.

Dasandi, N, Graham, H, Hudson, D, Jankin, S, Vanheerde-hudson, J & Watts, N 2022, 'Positive, global, and health or environment framing bolsters public support for climate policies', Communications Earth and Environment, vol. 3, no. 1, 239.

Dasandi, N, Fisher, J, Hudson, D & Vanheerde-hudson, J 2021, 'Human rights violations, political conditionality and public attitudes to foreign aid: evidence from survey experiments', Political Studies, pp. 1-21.

Schwartz, C, Simon, M, Hudson, D & VanHeerde-Hudson, J 2020, 'A populist paradox? How Brexit softened anti-immigrant attitudes', British Journal of Political Science.

Schwartz, C, Simon, M, Hudson, D & Johnson, SD 2020, 'Law breaking and law bending: how international migrants negotiate with state borders', International Studies Quarterly, vol. 2020.

Hudson, D, Lemay-hébert, N, Mcloughlin, C & Roche, C 2020, 'Leadership and Change in Asia-Pacific: Where Does Political Will Come From?', Politics and Governance, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 131-135.

Hudson, D, Mcloughlin, C, Margret, A & Pandjaitan, Y 2020, 'Leadership, Identity and Performance: The Nature and Effect of ‘Prototypicality’ in Indonesia', Politics and Governance, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 201-213.

Craney, A & Hudson, D 2020, 'Navigating the dilemmas of politically smart, locally led development: the Pacific-based Green Growth Leaders’ Coalition', Third World Quarterly, vol. 41, no. 10, pp. 1653-1669.

Hudson, J, Hudson, D, Morini, P, Clarke, H & Stewart, MC 2020, 'Not one, but many “publics”: public engagement with global development in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States', Development in Practice, vol. 30, no. 6, pp. 795-808.


Oh, S & Hudson, D 2024, Why doesn't everyone get the same? Inequality, exclusion, and inclusion. in C Mcloughlin, S Ali, K Xie, N Cheeseman & DE Hudson (eds), The Politics of Development. SAGE Publications, pp. 217-238. <>

Craney, A, Denney, L, Hudson, D & Krishna, U 2022, Adaptive programming, politics and learning in development. in K Sims, N Banks, S Engel, P Hodge, J Makuwira, N Nakamura, J Rigg, A Salamanca & P Yeophantong (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Global Development. 1st edn, Routledge International Handbooks, Routledge, pp. 665-677.

Other report

Mcloughlin, C, Hiriasia, T, Nanau, G, Hudson, D, Krishna, U & Roche, C 2022, Inclusive development in Solomon Islands: unlocking the potential of developmental leadership. University of Birmingham. <>

Working paper

Burnley, J, Dasandi, N & Hudson, D 2020 'The politics of consultation in donor-led reforms: The case of Myanmar’s investment law' Developmental Leadership Program, University of Birmingham. <>

Hudson, D & Mcloughlin, C 2019 'How is leadership understood in different contexts?' Developmental Leadership Program, University of Birmingham.

View all publications in research portal


Foreign, Security and Development Policy

How do developing country governments reduce poverty, inequality and improve the delivery of essential services like education and health? Politics. David’s policy expertise is around how leaders and coalitions work together – or not – to bring about change in developing countries by passing laws, improving policies, and building inclusion and legitimacy, especially in Asia and the Pacific. David is one of the world’s leading experts on what the public thinks about international development and overseas aid: when and why they support aid, donations to development charities, or volunteer. 

Policy experience