Philip Woodhouse

Philip Woodhouse


Personal profile


Professor in the School of Environment and Development.

After training as an agricultural scientist at Oxford (BA) and Reading (PhD), Philip Woodhouse worked in Mozambique for eight years for the National Agronomy Research Institute and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Since returning to the UK he has been based first at the Open University and subsequently at Manchester. He has undertaken research in a number of countries in Francophone West Africa, southern Africa, and East Africa. He has also collaborated on research in Brazil.

Philip Woodhouse was Head of the Institute for Development Policy and Management from 2003 to 2006. He served as a sub-panel member for Development Studies in the RAE 2008 (Research Assessment Exercise) and for Anthropology and Development Studies in the 2014 REF (Research Excellence Framework) organised by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Research interests

Philip Woodhouse's current research focuses on:

  • Natural resource governance and its relationship to agrarian change, with a particular focus on the commoditisation of land and water. 
  • The impact of technological, socio-economic and political change on agricultural productivity and other forms of land and water use.
Current and recent projects include:
An analysis of the social and economic aspects of 'farmer-led' irrigation in Africa ( This project is investigating the paradox that while formal irrigation investment in Africa has been slow and expensive, there is widespread evidence of 'informal' investment by farmers in irrigation, with the consequence that irrigated areas in sub-Saharan Africa are often greatly underestimated in official statistics. A collaborative study between irrigation engineers and social scientists in the UK, the Netherlands, Tanzania and Mozambique are investigating not only the social and economic drivers of these farmer-led irrigation developments, but also their relationship with development agencies and consequences for rural communities.
Work on water valuation systems, and in particular the emergence of non-market values of water into mainstream policy arenas has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, and  forms one of a number of projects funded within the Leverhulme Centre for the Study of Value.
A long-term study on the inter-relation between institutions for water and land management has followed the implementation of reform of water legislation in  the Inkomati Water Management Area, in Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. It has shown that processes of land reform and water reform have been pursued largely in parallel, with little effort at co-ordination or integration at policy level. They have nonetheless important interacting influences at local level. Further research is being conducted through empirical studies in South Africa,  and in Mozambique in collaboration with the Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Económicos (IESE) (see:
Currently, the question of 'viability' of farming at different scales lies at the heart of debates about land reform and so-called 'land-grab' acquisitions of agricultural land in developing countries by foreign investors. Research funded under the Poverty Alleviation programme of the DFID-ESRC joint funding scheme (ES/1034242/1)investigated livelihood and 'economic empowerment' implications of sugar farming at large-scale and small-scale on community-owned land in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. (See:

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 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Education/Academic qualification

Bachelor of Arts, Agriculture and Forest Science, Oxford University

Doctor of Philosophy, Soil Science, The University of Reading

Areas of expertise

  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • natural resource governance; agriculture; rural change; environment; international development

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities
  • Sustainable Futures
  • Global Development Institute
  • Manchester Environmental Research Institute


Dive into the research topics where Philip Woodhouse is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles