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History of the Centre for Development Studies

A timeline of key events highlighting the centre’s evolution since 1975.


Wellbeing in Developing Countries (WeD) research group in Ethiopia during field research
Wellbeing in Developing Countries (WeD) research group in Ethiopia during field research


  • CDS is established within the School of Social Sciences at the University of Bath. Founding staff are Lesley Palmier, Brian Smith, Geof Wood and Edward Horesh.

  • CDS affiliates to the Conference of Development Studies Centres. This network collaborates with the British Council in recruiting international students onto postgraduate development studies programmes across the United Kingdom.


  • CDS staff participate in setting up the Development Studies Association (DSA).


  • Sarah White, Allister McGregor, David Lewis and Marion Glaser conduct village studies in Bangladesh between 1982 and 1985, as part of doctoral studies with Geof Wood.


  • CDS hosts the annual conference of the DSA.


  • CDS hosts the European Network of Bangladesh Studies bringing together research on Bangladesh across Europe. The network eventually ceases its activities in 2000.


  • CDS hosts the DSA Annual conference with a keynote address from Amartya Sen on "Famines and entitlements".


  • CDS hires its first full-time administrator, Mark Ellison.

  • Research into poverty and fisheries in Bangladesh, Thailand and Indonesia funded by the UK Overseas Development Administration and in collaboration with natural scientists at Imperial College London (Allister McGregor, Chris Heady, Adrian Winnett).

  • Research into the effects of structural adjustment on agriculture and rural development in Zambia, funded by the UK Overseas Development Administration (James Copestake, Lewis Bangwe).

  • Technical assistance on social development for the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in Northern Pakistan from 1995 to 2006 (Geof Wood, Pip Bevan). Culminates in a book on the “Valleys in Transition” edited by Wood, Malik and Sagheer.


  • CDS becomes part of the new Department of Economics and International Development at the University of Bath. The MSc in Development Studies is renamed as the MSc in International Development. The Institute for International Policy Analysis (IFIPA) is established to coordinate postgraduate teaching with the Department of Social and Policy Sciences (DSPS).

  • Research and impact evaluation of microfinance programmes in Zambia, Malawi and Kenya funded by DFID (James Copestake, Susan Johnson, Allister McGregor).


  • CDS develops the SD SCOPE (Social Development Systems for Coping with Poverty Eradications) a web-based internet search and retrieval archive for 7,000 projects carried out by the UK Department for International Development as a resource for its social development advisors (Geof Wood, Pip Bevan, Allister McGregor, and Uma Kothari at the University of Manchester).

  • Research on “Social policy in development contexts” exploring the idea of welfare regimes in low, middle and high income countries, funded by DFID (led by Geof Wood and Ian Gough).


  • Launch of the BSc in Economics and International Development.

  • CDS hosts the DSA annual conference for the third time. The conference theme is "The Intergenerational Bargain".

  • Improving the Impact of Microfinance on Poverty: An action research project (Imp-Act) in collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University and countries in five continents, funded by the Ford Foundation (James Copestake, Susan Johnson, Katie Wright-Revolledo).


  • CDS hosts the final conference of the Committee of Development Studies Centres, at which agreement is secured for it to be absorbed into the DSA.

  • CDS hosts the Wellbeing in Developing Countries (WeD) research group from 2002 to 2007 led by Allister McGregor. The WeD supports collaborative interdisciplinary research into wellbeing, poverty and inequality in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru and Thailand. Funded by a £3.25 million grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), it is the largest single research project undertaken by CDS.


  • CDS members contribute to the five-year ESRC funded Religion and Development programme hosted by the University of Birmingham (Joe Devine, Sarah White).


  • Launch of the MSc in Wellbeing and Human Development (later renamed the MSc in Wellbeing, Public Policy and International Development).


  • Successful lobbying by Allister McGregor and other colleagues leads the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) to include a panel for development studies for the first time. The University of Bath is ranked fourth.


  • CDS moves to the Department of Social and Policy Sciences (DSPS) at the University of Bath.

  • Establishment of the "Bath Papers in International Development and Wellbeing" working paper series registered as ISSN 2040-3151. By the end of 2021, sixty-six papers had been published in the series. The series replaced the Wellbeing in Developing Countries (WeD) Working Papers, which published fifty-one papers between 2003 and 2009. The WeD series had itself replaced the CDS Working Paper Series.


  • CDS contributes to establishment of the South West International Development Network (SWIDN).

  • CDS hosts a symposium on “Dependent security and social development: old and new forms of suffering and struggle in South Asia” to mark the retirement of Geof Wood.

  • Santosh Mehrotra appointed to CDS as a David Parkin Visiting Professor.

  • Three consecutive Knowledge Transfer Partnerships with Oxford Policy Management (twice) and Tripleline consulting funded by ESRC and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. (James Copestake, Joe Devine, Susan Johnson).

  • DFID/ESRC funded project on “Wellbeing and poverty pathways research in India and Zambia” (Sarah White, Shreya Jha).


  • CDS contributes to DSPS winning a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for influential research into child poverty and support for vulnerable people.

  • Geof Wood is President of the DSA

  • Establishment of the South West Doctoral Training Centre, linking ESRC funded doctoral training at the universities of Bath, Bristol and Exeter. Eligible programmes include the University of Bath’s MRes in International Development, and interdisciplinary MRes programmes in Global Political Economy and in Conflict, Humanitarianism and Development.

  • CDS Postdoctoral Fellowship in International Development established through a private endowment to support five consecutive two-year awards (Shahid Perwez, Althea-Maria Rivas, Daniel Wroe, Fariba Alamgir, Cynthia Kamwengo).


  • The four-year ART Project (Assessing Rural Transformations) funded by DFID/ESRC develops the Qualitative Impact Assessment Protocol (QuIP) and pilots it in collaboration with NGOs in Ethiopia and Zambia (James Copestake and Fiona Remnant).


  • CDS develops a new communication strategy resulting in the establishment of the CDS Blog and a thrice yearly newsletter. CDS also launches its Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages.

  • Rana Jawad co-founds and convenes the Middle East and North Africa Social Policy Network (MENASP). Subsequently, securing funds from the Council for British Research in the Levant, Carnegie Corporation of New York, ESRC, Ford Foundation and AHRC to expand its activities.


  • CDS staff contribute to DFID funded research and policy engagement relating to extreme poverty in Bangladesh (Joe Devine, Mathilde Maitrot, Geof Wood). This includes collaboration with the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) in the publication of “Extreme poverty the challenges of inclusion in Bangladesh” for the Bangladesh Planning Commission in 2021.

  • CDS members mostly contribute to the University of Bath’s submission to the Social Work and Social Policy panel of the REF (Research Excellence Framework), being ranked sixth (equal) out of sixty-two submissions.


  • CDS celebrates its 40 year anniversary with an event entitled “CDS@40: Inequality Everywhere: What is development about?”

  • CDS hosts the DSA annual conference for the fourth time. The conference title is "Global development as relationship: dependence, interdependence or divide?"

  • CDS joins the European Association of Development Institutions (EADI).

  • Launch of the Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice (DPRP) by the Institute for Policy Research (IPR), with CDS members involved in the supervision of mid-career professionals working for development and humanitarian organisations.

  • CDS collaborates with researchers at SOAS in the 2015-17 project on "Borderlands, Brokers and Peacebuilding in Sri Lanka and Nepal: War to peace transitions viewed from the margin" funded by ESRC (Oliver Walton).


  • Development Studies at the University of Bath is ranked 44th in the QS World Rankings. The only University of Bath subject in the top 50.

  • Launch of the BSc in International Development with Economics. This replaces the BSc in Economics and International Development, which spanned 17 years and produced 349 graduates.

  • Establishment of the Bath Social and Development Research Ltd (Bath SDR) as a spin-off social enterprise from CDS, principally to promote innovation in evaluation through adaptive use of the Qualitative Impact Assessment Protocol (QuIP). As of 2021, Bath SDR had completed more than forty studies in twenty countries.

  • Eight separate research grants - six under the Global Challenges Research Fund - to support collaborative research into artisanal mining and natural resource management in West Africa (Roy Maconachie, Felix Conteh)

  • Postdoctoral award for research on the Political economy of aid to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Jeremy Wildeman, Jason Hart).


  • Sarah White is President of the DSA.


  • The MSc in International Development is expanded into a suite of four programmes incorporating the MSc in Wellbeing, International Development and Public Policy. A new blended learning part-time MSc in Humanitarianism, Conflict and Development is also launched.

  • ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for research entitled “Bringing Women’s Voices Back-in: Gender and oil conflict in the Niger Delta, Nigeria” (Zainab Mai-Bornu, Roy Maconachie).

  • British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to investigate labour market practices among Syrian refugees in Lebanon (Philip Proudfoot, Jason Hart).

  • CDS establishes four research clusters: Development Policy, Practice, Poverty and Political Economy; Social justice, Sustainability and Wellbeing; Conflict, Migration and Humanitarian Action; and Global Public Health and Education.


  • Gary Goertz from the University of Notre Dame appointed to CDS as a David Parkin Visiting Professor.

  • A DSPS Away Day prompts the establishment of new pop-up centres in: Decolonising Knowledge in Teaching, Research and Practice (DECkNO); Conflict, Migration and Humanitarian Action; Natural Resource Extraction, Sustainability and Social Justice; and Prisons Research.


  • Launch of the WorkFREE research project, including a cash transfer pilot in Hyderabad, India. WorkFREE is led by Neil Howard and funded through a European Research Council grant.


  • The Bath Research in International Development (BRID) fund is established. The fund supports undergraduate placements, postgraduate practicums, doctoral fieldwork, conference costs, as well as a two-year Postdoctoral Research Associate position.

  • CDS members mostly contribute to the University of Bath’s submission to the Social Work and Social Policy panel in the Research Excellence Framework (REF), ranking ninth (equal) out of 76 submissions.


  • CDS becomes a hub for Earth System Governance Network, the world’s largest collective of social science and natural sciences scholars researching global environmental governance.

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