Professor David Hudson

Professor David Hudson

International Development Department
Birmingham Professorial Research Fellow in Politics and Development
Director, Developmental Leadership Program (DLP)

Contact details

International Development Department
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

David Hudson is the Professorial Research Fellow in Politics and Development at the University of Birmingham and Director of the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP).

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 Aid Attitudes Tracker.

Current research projects involve fieldwork or data collection in Fiji, France, Germany, Jamaica, Myanmar, Rwanda, 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.

David's work has been published in the Review of International Studies, Political Studies, Journal of International Development, and Conflict Management and Peace Science as well as the book Global Finance and Development.


  • 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 or Co-I on 3 large research projects: (1) the Developmental Leadership Program (funded by the Australian Aid Program) with Dr Claire Mcloughlin, (2) the Aid Attitudes Tracker (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) with Dr Jennifer vanHeerde-Hudson (UCL), and (3) Migrant Networks, Decisions, and Immigration Policy (Leverhulme Trust), alongside Professor Shane Johnson.

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
  • International political economy of development

Current projects

  • The Developmental Leadership Program with Dr Claire Mcloughlin (UoB) (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 Aid Attitudes Tracker with Dr Jennifer vanHeerde- Hudson (UCL) (2013­2018, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, £310,500 of overall budget of £1.7m), A 5­year, 4­country 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:
  • Migrant Networks, Decisions, and Immigration Policy with Professor Shane Johnson (UCL) (2014­2017, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, £205,365). We are examining how migration decision making is influenced by the networks migrants are embedded in. We are interested in the effect that policy tightening does or doesn’t have on migration and whether this drives people to take greater risks and migrate through irregular channels. The project is based on ongoing fieldwork in Jamaica. We use a combination of methods: an agent based model, network analysis, and survey and a series of experiments.

Other activities

  • Director, Developmental Leadership Program
  • Consultancy for AusAID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Comic Relief
  • Advisory roles for UK Department for International Development, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Braithwaite, A., Dasandi, N., and Hudson, D. (2016) ‘Does Poverty Cause Conflict? Isolating the Causal Origins of the Conflict Trap’, Conflict Management and Peace Science, 33(2): 45-66.

Hudson, D. Marquette, H. and Waldock, S. (2016) Everyday Political Analysis. DLP Paper. Birmingham: Developmental Leadership Program.

Hudson, D. (2015) Global Finance and Development, London: Routledge.

Hudson, D. and Marquette, H. (2015). Mind the gaps: What’s missing in political economy analysis and why it matters. In Whaites, A., Gonzalez, E., Fyson, S. and Teskey, G. (eds). A Governance Practitioner’s Notebook: Alternative ideas and approaches. Paris: OECD.

Waage, J., et al. (2015) Governing the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Interactions, Infrastructures, and Institutions, The Lancet Global Health, 3(5): e251-e252.

Sajuria, J., vanHeerde-Hudson, J., Hudson, D., Dasandi, N., and Theocharis, Y. (2015) Tweeting Alone? An Analysis of Bridging and Bonding Capital in Online Networks, American Politics Research, 43(4): 708-738.

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

Other information