Masooda BanoPositions

William Golding Senior Research Fellow, Brasenose College.

Professor of Development Studies, Oxford Department of International Development, and Principal Investigator, Changing Structures of Islamic Authority (CSIA)


MPhil (Cambridge), DPhil (Oxford)


Prior to starting the DPhil in International Development at Oxford in April 2002, I did MPhil in Development Studies at Cambridge. Since completion of my D.Phil in early 2006, I have held two major ESRC fellowships and now manage an ERC Starting Grant.

Graduate Teaching Areas

I teach on MPhil Development Studies degree and supervise MPhil and DPhil theses in the area of International Development. I also run the Gender and Development module every Hilary Term.

Research Interests

My primary area of interest rests in studying the role of ideas and beliefs in development processes and their evolution and change. Particular emphasis is on understanding the dynamic interplay between material and psycho-social incentives and the consequences of this for individual choices and collective development outcomes. I build large-scale comparative studies combining ethnographic and survey data.

Currently, I am directing a five-year major research project: Changing Structures of Islamic Authority and Consequences for Social Change - A Transnational Review (CSIA). The project maps the scholarly debates within the most influential Islamic scholarly platforms in the world today to see how responsive they are to changing societal context. This textual analysis is followed by survey and ethnographic fieldwork with young Muslims to understand how individuals choose to follow one Islamic scholarly tradition over another. The project is supported by a 1.4 million euro European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant.

I have recently also completed a monograph in which I examine the factors leading to emergence and spread of female Islamic education movements across the Muslim world since the 1970s. Other areas of research interest include aid effectiveness and cooperative behaviour.


Bano, Masooda (2017) 'Female Islamic Education Movements: The Re-Democratisation of Islamic Knowledge', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bano, Masooda (2012) 'The Rational Believer: Choices and Decisions in the Madrasas of Pakistan', Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Bano, Masooda (2012) 'Breakdown in Pakistan: How Aid is Eroding Institutions for Collective Action', Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

Bano, Masooda (with H Kalmbach) (eds) (2012) 'Women, Leadership and Mosques: Changes in Contemporary Islamic Authority', Leiden: Brill

Bano, Masooda (with S Deneulin) (2009) 'Religion in Development: Rewriting the Secular Script', Zed Books.

Media and Advisory Work

I routinely advice international development agencies on education sector reforms in the developing countries. Between 2008-2016, I advised on one of the largest education sector support programme launched by the UK Department of International Development (DfID) in Nigeria. Under this, I designed a number of interventions aimed at improving primary education provision and quality in northern Nigeria. One of these interventions has been profiled by the ESRC as being amongst the best examples of social science impact.


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