Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I welcome PhD students with interests relating to my own research including:
Volunteering in humanitarian and development contexts; Civil society and development; Citizenship and activism; NGOS and development; Education, learning and skills

Willing to speak to media

Personal profile


Matt is an interdisciplinary global development academic, with particular interests in the relationships between civil society, citizenship and development in the global South. His current work focuses on volunteering in humanitarian and development settings, and on young people as development actors. He is Principal Investigator of Refugee Youth Volunteering Uganda (, an ESRC/GCRF funded project exploring volunteering by young displaced people in Uganda and its impacts on their skills and employability and experiences of inequality. He is also PI of a BA/GCRF project exploring youth agency for Sustainable Development in Palestine, and a Co-Investigator and Work Package Lead for UKRI/GCRF Living Deltas (, an interdisciplinary research hub working to support more sustainable futures for deltas in South and South East Asia. Matt is also Research Director of the Swedish Red Cross Led Volunteers in Conflicts and Emergencies Initiative (, a research, innovation and learning project to support the safer and more effective engagement of volunteers in crises.

Matt previously worked for a development NGO and he continues to work in partnership with a range of national and global development organisations. This work includes co-designing and delivering research projects, acting as a critical friend to organisations and work to help build research and data collection and analysis capacity within development organisations and the groups they engage with. At Northumbria, Matt is co-director of the Northumbria Centre for International Development.

Visit Matt’s personal website here.

Research interests

Matt’s interests are broadly focused on the intersections of civil society, citizenship and development in the global South, with a particular focus on volunteering, and on young people as development actors.

Volunteering in humanitarian and development settings:

Matt’s current research focuses on the diverse forms of voluntary labour mobilised by and for development and crises in the global South. This includes research on international volunteering and development, and on the ‘gap year’, with a particular focus on the kinds of citizenship that these activities produce. More recently, he has challenged the focus on international volunteers from the global North, researching volunteering between global South countries as well as turning attention to the roles of local and national volunteers. This has included co-authoring the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Global Review on Volunteering, and acting as research director of the Volunteers in Conflicts in Emergencies Initiative. His current project, the ESRC/GCRF funded Refugee Youth Volunteering Uganda (RYVU), is being undertaken in partnership with Uganda Martyrs University and Mbarara University of Science and Technology, and uses quantitative and particularly qualitative methods to understand volunteering activity by displaced youth in 4 settings in Uganda, and how it impacts on their skills and employability.

Young people as development actors:

Overlapping with his interests in volunteering, Matt is particularly interested in the ways in which young people are engaged in development activity and how they seek to shape it. As part of the UKRI/GCRF Living Deltas Hub, he is exploring young people’s experiences of change and ideas and action for more sustainable futures in the Red River, Mekong and Ganges-Brahmaputa-Meghna deltas. In Palestine, he is leading a BA/GCRF project working with academics from design, law and education to explore youth agency for sustainable development using cultural probe methodologies.

 Ways of working:

Matt is particularly interested in participatory and visual methodologies, interdisciplinary and challenge led research, and in co-designing and development research with diverse development actors. This includes an interest in development and humanitarian practitioners as researchers, and building organisational capacities to gather and analyse data.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Sociology, PhD

1 Sept 199431 Dec 2099

Award Date: 1 Sept 1994

Sociology, MPhil, Sociology and Politics of Development

1 Sept 199331 Dec 2099

Award Date: 1 Sept 1993

Politics, BA (Hons)

1 Sept 199031 Dec 2099

Award Date: 1 Sept 1990


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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