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Research is an important part of the learning that the DPU seeks to promote between theory, methodology and practice in the field of international development. Research excellence serves two main purposes. The doing of research and its outcomes are sources of knowledge to deepen understandings of development processes and practices in the DPU research clusters, interrogating the theoretical underpinnings and drivers of development thinking and collective action in the public sector, civil society and the private sector.

Research also provides valuable knowledge, experience and case studies to strengthen DPU teaching, capacity building and advisory work. In particular it contributes to the development of analytical and methodological frameworks to the teaching and practice-based activities of the Unit. 

DPU's present research thinking and activities are conceived in three ways:

Currently the DPU has four research clusters, each with sub-clusters which reflect the development of different strands of our work.

DPU staff frequently engage in research activities with academics and organisations outside of the DPU and in many cases outside of UCL through a wide variety of interdisciplinary research projects.

DPU research has far-reaching impacts in development policy, practice and thinking. Cross-cutting themes, which draw upon the key problematics facing the global south and its urban regions today, guide our research directions .