Professor Richard Black

Professor Richard Black

College of Social Sciences
Head of the College of Social Sciences

Contact details

College of Social Sciences
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Richard is Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Social Sciences.  An academic geographer and Professor of International Development, he has been a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences since 2012.

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PhD in Geography, University of London, 1990
BA in Geography, University of Oxford, 1986


Richard Black joined the University of Birmingham in April 2018 as Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Social Sciences. He was previously Pro-Director (Research & Enterprise) at SOAS University of London from 2013, and founding Head of the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex from 2009.  He received his PhD in 1990, and worked as a Lecturer at King’s College London from 1989 before moving to Sussex in 1995. 

Over recent years his specialist area of research has been the relationship between migration, poverty, and climate change.  He is part of the Royal Geographical Society’s “Migrants on the Margins” field research project which has explored the vulnerability of migrants to four cities in the Global South – Colombo, Dhaka, Hargeisa and Harare.  Together with colleagues at SOAS and the London International Development Centre, he is also part of the AHRC-ESRC Migration Leadership Team, which is drawing together UK research council work on migration. 

Richard has published over fifty journal articles and nine books and edited collections on a wide range of topics relating to migration, refugees and development, based on field research across various sites in Africa and southern Europe.  In 2011, he was lead author of a “Foresight” report for the Government Office for Science on Migration and Global Environmental Change”.  He has worked for numerous UN and international agencies, including UNHCR, the World Bank and the OECD.


Research interests

Richard’s research interests lie in the relationship between migration and mobility, poverty and climate change. He is particularly interested in when, how and why migration becomes a route out of poverty, or a way of building resilience to climate change, rather than exacerbating vulnerability and insecurity. His work has drawn on empirical evidence from sites across Africa and southern Europe, and also latterly from India, China and Bangladesh. It stresses the key role played by institutions in facilitating or obstructing potential benefits from migration, and the importance of understanding migration, displacement, and ‘trapped’ populations in local and historical context

Current projects

Current/recent work includes:

  • Membership of the Migration Leadership Team for the AHRC and ESRC, in collaboration with SOAS University of London and the London International Development Centre (2018-20)
  • Research as part of the Royal Geographical Society’s “Migrants on the Margins” project on migration to vulnerable cities in the Global South, in collaboration with the Universities of Sussex and Durham and funded by the ESRC (2014-18)
  • Research on migration and vulnerability in the Hindu-Kush Himalaya region, in collaboration with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu (2012-18)
  • Research on climate-related migration in Bangladesh with the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) in Dhaka, funded by DFID (2012-13)
  • Research on Migration from Africa to Europe, in collaboration with the Institut National des Etudes Demographiques, Paris, funded by the European Commission (2008-11)

Other activities

  • REF 2014: Member of sub-panel 17, Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies
  • Director of two major DFID research programmes on migration, globalisation and poverty, spanning Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (2003-13)
  • Visiting Professor, Institut de Géographie, Université de Neuchâtel funded by Swiss National Science Foundation, 2011
  • Co-Editor of Journal of Refugee Studies, OUP (1994-2009)


Banerjee, S., Mishra, A., BLACK, R. and Kniveton, D. (2018) Assessing vulnerability of remittance-recipient and non-recipient households in rural communities affected by extreme weather events: case studies from south-west China and northeast India. Population, Place and Space, forthcoming

Martin, M. Kang, Y-H., Billah, M. Siddiqui, T., BLACK, R. and Kniveton, D. (2017) Climate-influenced migration in Bangladesh: The need for a policy realignment, Development Policy Review, 35: O357-79

González-Ferrer, A., Kraus, E., Baizán, P, Beauchemin, C., BLACK, R. and Schoumaker, B. (2017) Migration between Africa and Europe: Assessing the role of resources, family and networks.  A comparative approach.  In: Beauchemin, C. (ed) Migration between Africa and Europe (Springer), ch4

BLACK, R., Quartey, P., Castagnone, E., Nazio, T., Schoumaker, B and Rakotonarivo, N. (2017) Ghanaian migration: economic participation.  In: Beauchemin, C. (ed) Migration between Africa and Europe (Springer), ch11

Adger, W.N., Arnell, N.W., BLACK, R., Dercon, S., Geddes, A. and Thomas, D.G. (2015) Focus on environmental risks and migration: causes and consequences, Environmental Research Letters 10(6): 060201

González-Ferrer, A., Baizán, P., Beauchemin, C., Kraus, E., Schoumaker, B. and BLACK, R. (2014) Distance, transnational arrangements and return decisions of Senegalese, Ghanaian and Congolese migrants, International Migration Review, 48(4), 939-71

De Caux, R., Smith, C., Kniveton, D., BLACK, R. and Philippides, A. (2014) Dynamic, small-world social network generation through local agent interactions, Complexity, 19 (6): 44-53

Martin, M., Billah, M., Siddiqui, T., Abrar, C.R., BLACK, R., and Kniveton, D. (2014) Climate related migration in rural Bangladesh: a behavioural model, Population and Environment, 36(1): 85-110

View all publications in research portal