Dissertation - Refugee protection and forced migration studies

RPM400 and RPM500

The dissertation is a key part of the MA programme, and builds your independent research skills through two components: a research methods course ‘Researching Refugees’ and undertaking a process of planning and writing a dissertation thesis on a topic of your choice that is related to refugee protection and forced migration.

Topics covered

The ‘Researching Refugees’ taught component provides students with a strong grounding in quantitative and qualitative research methods as applied in refugee and forced migration contexts. The topics that are covered include:

  • Research design in refugee / forced migration contexts
  • Research ethics and fieldwork challenges
  • Interviewing, focus groups and other qualitative data collection techniques
  • The fundamentals of quantitative research methods, including survey questionnaires and sampling principles
  • Data analysis

The dissertation thesis component requires you build upon the knowledge of research methodology acquired through the taught component in order to undertake independent research on a topic of your choice in the refugee/forced migration field. You will be assigned a specialist in the topic chosen to supervise your dissertation research.


The Dissertation component is assessed in two parts. Completion of the ‘Researching Refugees’ course and submission of a research proposal will count towards 15% of the overall dissertation mark and 85% will be made up by the submission of the dissertation thesis itself.

Researching Refugees module team

Dr Oroub El-Abed, module convenor

Dr Oroub El-Abed - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Dr Oroub El-Abed is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for British Research in the Levant, supported by a British Academy grant. She obtained her PhD in Development Studies from SOAS, University of London. She has consulted for several UN agencies and international NGOs, and written about political economy of development and forced migration, particularly in relation to Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. She is the author of Unprotected: Palestinians in Egypt since 1948 (Washington, DC and Ottawa: Institute for Palestine Studies and the International Development Research Centre, 2009).

Vickie Knox, module convenor

Vickie Knox - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Vickie Knox is in the final stage of her PhD at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Her doctoral research explores the links between organised crime and migration in Mesoamerica, in the contexts of mixed migration and the emerging protection crisis in the region. Previously she has worked on reproductive rights and equality, with a particular focus on Latin America, and is a co-director of the Central America Woman’s Network. She has considerable experience in communications and campaigns and has held senior roles in advocacy organisations including Amnesty International and International Alert, and worked as an independent consultant for several years. She also has degrees from Queen Mary University of London and University of Brighton, and her other research interests include international human rights law, equality and discrimination, and reproductive rights.

Dr Naohiko Omata, module convenor

Dr Naohiko Omata - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Dr Naohiko Omata is Senior Research Officer of the Humanitarian Innovation Project at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford. He received his PhD in Development Studies from SOAS, University of London. He also holds a BA in Law from the University of Tokyo, an MA in Forced Migration and Humanitarian Aid from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. From September 2009 to January 2012, Naohiko was Senior Teaching Fellow in Development Studies at SOAS. Previously, he worked as a practitioner and consultant for UNDP, UNHCR and international and local NGOs in sub- Saharan African countries. He has published widely on refugee livelihoods, repatriation, and rights based on extensive research in East and West Africa.

Alexander Ray

Alexander Ray - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Alexander (Lex) Ray is completing his PhD at SOAS, University of London. His research interrogates the governance of refugee protection and assistance in relation to South Sudanese displacement in Kenya and Uganda, where he conducted fieldwork for 18 months. Taking a holistic approach, his research develops a nuanced picture of the humanitarian ecosystem and the emerging legal, policy, and programmatic trends for refugee governance in East Africa.

Lex holds an MPhil from the University of Cambridge and a BA from the University of York, where he graduated with a starred first. His research interests focus on humanitarian protection and assistance, research methods and ethics in forced migration studies, the interaction between political scales, and the role of everyday practices in constructing and exercising governance systems.

Ailsa Winton - Tutor

Ailsa Winton - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Ailsa Winton holds a PhD in geography from Queen Mary, University of London, and worked as an academic in Mexico from 2005 to 2020, being based at the Mexico-Guatemala border from 2012. Her research interests relate broadly to the critical geographies of marginality and violence, and more recently her work has focused on violence-based displacement in northern Central America and southern Mexico, including detailed research on LGBTQ mobility. She has led a number of research projects in collaboration with local and international organizations in Mexico, and has published widely in both English and Spanish.