Understanding the nature of the movement of people across borders requires analysis of the nature of borders themselves, as physical, legal and metaphysical constructions. But it also requires consideration of the broad array of impacts – from the personal to the geopolitical – that arise from different kinds of movements across borders.

COMPAS conducts research that addresses current transformations of borders while considering public understandings and meanings of borders such as in the UK. COMPAS has also conducted research across Europe that provides a comparative inventory of data on migratory movements such as irregular migration (stocks and flows). Working with data on ‘clandestine’ migration required in depth consideration of ethical and methodological issues, as well as the factors affecting shifts between legal and ‘illegal’ status among migrant populations.

Other complementary studies have focussed on mixed and transit migration to Europe. The expansion of the European border control regime has moved responsibility from core countries to the peripheral EU countries and their immediate neighbours, such as Ukraine and Turkey. Research therefore investigated clandestine entry to the EU: the institutions, practices, relationships and networks that shape experiences of life on the move, the governance, policies and practices of border controls, and the interplay and dynamics influencing outcomes of migration in sending, transit and destination countries

Blog Posts

Leaving Palestine

Nicholas Van Hear

People Move

Ben Doherty

Illegality vs Irregularity

Bridget Anderson

Gendering the Irregular

Melanie Griffiths

Border Crossings and Gender in the Greek Detention System

Mary Bosworth, Sharon Pickering and Andriani Fili

Race and Racism

Rachel Humphris

Health and border control

Hiranthi Jayaweera

Re-Thinking ‘Risk’ in Migration

Esra Kaytaz, DPhil Social Anthropology

The Good Worker

Dace Dzenovska

Migration in Scotland

Carlos Vargas-Silva

Dream on

Nicholas Van Hear

It’s about time

Marthe Achtnich and Roger Norum, COMPAS DPhil students

The economics of forced migration

Carlos Vargas-Silva

Dr Who and The Migrants

Bridget Anderson

No Way Out, No Way In

Vanessa Hughes

Border Crossing: Material Culture & Experience

Marisa Macari, COMPAS DPhil Student


Biao Xiang

Legal but Unfair: The High Stakes of the UK Immigration Detention System

Stephanie Silverman, DPhil Politics and International Relations



Destination Europe? Understanding the dynamics and drivers of Mediterranean migration in 2015

Heaven Crawley, Franck Düvell, Katharine Jones, Simon McMahon and Nando Sigona

The COMPAS Approach

Ben Gidley, Rob McNeil and Emma Newcombe

Journal Articles

Working Papers

Other Publications


An Evidence Base on Migration and Integration in London

Ben Gidley and Hiranthi Jayaweera | 2009

Border Security: Discourses and Practices in the UK

Bastian Vollmer | April 2013 – 2016

Does Immigration Enforcement Matter (DIEM)?

Franck Düvell, Iryna Lapshyna and Myriam Cherti | November 2013 - July 2017

The employment and working conditions of migrant domestic workers in South East Asia

Bridget Anderson and Emma Newcombe | August 2015 - June 2016

The ethics and politics of the refugee crisis

Bridget Anderson and Emma Newcombe | May 2016- Mar 2017

Unravelling the Mediterranean Migration Crisis (MEDMIG)

Franck Düvell | Sep 2015 - Aug 2016