Civil society and non-state actors in development

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
(MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
February and October January to April
PhD (MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Start dates
February and October
Application period
January to April

A wide range of non-state actors, such as civil society organisations, social movements, ‘community-based’ organisations and non-state armed actors can play a key role in social change at different scales. Factors such as the development of digital information and communications technologies, conflict, and the emergence of ‘global’ development challenges that transcend nation state boundaries may increase the importance of non-state actors in certain contexts. Such actors might challenge the status quo, but can also be co-opted by states, international organisations and other political actors, calling into question our assumptions about boundaries between ‘state’ and ‘non-state’ and ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ institutions.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent). If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Potential research projects

  • Digital activism
  • Social media and development
  • Transnational advocacy networks
  • Social movements
  • Solidarity based action
  • Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Community-based organisations (CBOs)s and participation in development
  • Governance beyond the state

Current/recent research projects

  • Transnational civil society organisations and created territorialized constituencies
  • Public-Private Partnerships in the development of HIV/AIDS communication in South Africa
  • Evaluating Transnational Advocacy Networks (TANs): The Case of the Jubilee 2000 Campaign (J2K)
  • Understanding Poverty and Inequality through Different Forms of Exchange
  • Design and democracy: transformative agency within indigenous structures
  • Rebuilding society after civil war: The effect of popular participation in social transformation
  • Development Intervention through INGO Volunteerism
  • Designing Technology to Provide Education to Traumatised Syrian Children in Conflict Areas and Refugee Camps
  • Bolivian Children's Voices in the Child Labour Debate

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,786 per year Full time: £12,146 per year
Part time: £2,393 per year Part time: £6,073 per year

Some of our research students are funded via The Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


Group of activists

How to apply

Get in touch

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Dr Mark Lamont / Dr Frangton Chiyemura, Discipline Convenors
Email: FASS-DPP-PG-Admissions
Phone: +44 (0)1908 653391 / +44(0)1908 653818

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.