Centre for Migration Studies

Part of Department of Sociology and Criminology

A group of protesters holding up placards in support of refugees.

We foster excellence in migration research, education and community engagement

Our cross-disciplinary centre addresses issues such as human rights, immigration policies, forced migration, education, citizenship, political engagement, social cohesion, religion, human trafficking, race, ethnicity and identity.

The Centre for Migration Studies (CMS), launched in 2018 and was established to provide a home for cross-disciplinary dialogue on migration studies. Working closely with the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change, the Centre includes affiliates from departments across the University of Essex, the UK, and the world. It is a focal point for postgraduate researchers and for those studying the MA and MSc in Migration Studies here at Essex. We also serve as a link between the University and our local and regional community through our involvement with local NGOs and policymakers serving immigrant, refugee and ethnic minority communities.

Follow us on Twitter:

Our Centre

Our research

The Centre for Migration Studies is an umbrella for a wide range of research that examines causes and consequences of the movement of people across international borders. Our research takes a variety of empirical approaches, including quantitative, qualitative and experimental methodologies as well as applied investigations in our School of Health and Social Care and the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies. Our research projects are funded by a range of bodies including the ESRC, Nuffield Foundation, and the European Union Framework Programmes.

To view our migration related publications please visit our research repository.

Our teaching

Closely aligned with the Centre for Migration Studies are the MA and MSc in Migration Studies courses at the University of Essex, offered by the Department of Sociology and Criminology . Reflecting our inter-disciplinary focus, we also offer modules on migration related topics across the University, frequently contributing to the fields of Psychology, Human Rights and Linguistics, among many others.

As part of our international collaboration with the other Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE) Alliance, we have created an online module offered to postgraduate students at all YUFE universities on Global Migration and European Identity. This module was piloted in Spring 2021 and we look forward to offering it again in the future to provide international networking for our students as well as exposure to diverse expertise from the scholars at the University of East Finland and Tor Regata, Rome.

Our community engagement

We are active participants in our local community and across the East of England. We serve on the Migrant Agency Forum of the Colchester Borough Council, the Essex Refugee Wellbeing Network and we collaborate with a number of grassroots organisations such as Refugee Action Colchester, African Families in the UK and organisations such as the Red Cross and the Strategic Migrant Partnership funded by the Home Office.

In our work we facilitate the interaction and collaboration between stakeholders and students and staff from across the University. We hold stakeholder event on campus every year with participation from local and regional organisations working with voluntary and involuntary migrants and ethnic minority communities in order to strengthen community building and support networks.

Our members

Our members are made up of academics and postgraduate students from Sociology and Criminology, Essex Business School, Government,  Language and Linguistics, Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Psychology, and the Institute for Social and Economic Research. This broad membership allows us to address issues arising from international migration from a variety of angles and fosters the development of cross-disciplinary research.

Visit our people profile to view our individual staff profiles and get in touch.


Our launch event

Our launch event entitled 'Migration Challenges in the UK at the Dawn of Brexit' included presentations by Professor Nando Sigona, Dr Michaela Benson, and Professor Paul Statham.

Our initiatives

University of Sanctuary

A key goal of the Centre of Migration is community outreach and engagement, and helping to ensure that our campus is a welcoming place to vulnerable migrants in our local community.

As part of this commitment, we are active participants in the University of Essex working group preparing our application for University of Sanctuary status. In November of 2019, the University of Essex announced plans to apply for University of Sanctuary status, which will include two new scholarships as well as new protocol to ensure that the admission process and studying experience at Essex is as inclusive as possible. To learn more about University of Sanctuary status, accreditation and awards, please visit the City of Sanctuary website.

The Centre for Migration Studies organises short-term internships with local community organisations for our MA and MSc Migration Studies students.

Collaboration with the East of England Strategic Migration Partnership

The East of England Local Government Association hosts the regional Strategic Migration Partnership, one of twelve UK partnerships funded by the Home Office.

The Partnership is a tiered regional network which works with partners to develop and support local migrant worker and asylum seekers and refugee networks, encompassing grass roots organisations and a network of multi-agency fora and specialist and task groups. All local groups feed into a regional Migrant Worker Steering Group and the Asylum and Refugee Reference Group, each with a mechanism to feed into respective national bodies.

We work closely with the East of England Strategic Migration Partnership, participating in local initiatives as well as EU funded networking events in Barcelona and Denmark.

To learn more about the East of England Strategic Migration Partnership, please visit the East of England Local Government Association website.

Collaboration with the ESRC Research Centre  on Micro-Social Change

Our Director Renee Luthra is now also Assistant Director to the recently refunded ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change (MiSoC). Renee is joined by named researchers Neli Demireva and Ayse Guveli, also from the Centre for Migration Studies. These scholars, together with collaborators across the social sciences in Essex and beyond, will be delivering on MiSoC’s new stream Changing Populations: Ethnicity and Migration.

To read the full details of the Changing Populations: Ethnicity and Migration research stream, please visit the Institute of Social and Economic Research website.

Our engagement 


Every year we host an annual PhD research colloquium in collaboration with our partners across the Eastern Arc as well as the Sussex Centre for Migration Research.  

In 2021, we had our colloquium “Racial and Ethnic Inequalities in Migration Research” online including presentations by eleven postgraduate research students from across the UK, Germany, India, Italy, Canada and the United States, presented their emerging PhD projects. The event featured three panels on the following themes: race, gender and identity; racialisation and rights, and ethnicity and the life course, as well as two keynotes by Lucinda Platt (LSE) and Kate Choi (University of Western Ontario).

In 2020 we sadly had to cancel our colloquium due to the pandemic.


In 2019, sixteen postgraduate research students from across the UK, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and France presented their emerging PhD projects. This event was held in collaboration with the UEA Migration Network and the Sussex Centre for Migration Research. The event featured five panels on the following themes; identity and belonging, mobilities and transnationalism, the labour market and welfare state, governance and policies, and migration and gender. Read the full programme from our 2019 colloquium.


In 2018 we held our inaugural cross-institutional colloquium with the UEA Migration Network and the Sussex Centre for Migration Research, featuring 22 presentations on migration and gender, refugees, migration and health, socioeconomic integration, and a keynote lecture by Yasemin Soysal. 

Our teaching

Housed in the Department of Sociology and Criminology, the Centre for Migration Studies contributes to the study of migration with an interdisciplinary focus. The MA and MSC in Migration Studies hosted in the Department of Sociology and the MA Refugee Care hosted in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies are specialised courses in the field.

Across the University our members from the Department of Sociology and Criminology, the Institute of Social and Economic Reform (ISER), the Centre for Trauma, Asylum and Refugees (CTAR), the Department of Government, Department of Language and Linguistics, Department of History, School of  Philosophy and Art History, the Human Rights Centre and the School of Health and Social Care deliver their expertise through specialised modules.

Use the links below to navigate to courses and modules related to the work of our centre:

Student working on computer in library
Contact us
Director Centre for Migration Studies Dr Renee Luthra
University of Essex
Deputy Director Centre for Migration Studies Dr Carlos Gigoux Gramegna
University of Essex