Mountains by the sea in Vietnam

Research Fund

The next round of applications to the Research Fund is now open, with an application deadline of 1st February 2021 and for an earliest project start date of 1st April 2021.

Decisions are expected to be relayed by 1st March 2021. Full guidelines and the application form are below.

I am delighted to support the establishment of this Centre to enable LSE to consolidate and strengthen its education and research on the Southeast Asia region among students, researchers and faculty members.

Professor Saw Swee Hock

Details and application guidelines for 2020/21 application round

The LSE Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre (SEAC) invites applications for funding in aid of research on social science issues relevant to Southeast Asia, aligning with SEAC’s core research themes of urbanisation, connectivity and governance. The aim of the Fund is to fill a gap in the available support and to promote high-quality research by LSE academics on the region.

Applications for this round are for projects taking place from 1 April 2021 to latest 31 July 2022, for funding up to a maximum of £7,500.


  • Applications are open to all LSE staff at Assistant Professor/Assistant Professorial Research Fellow level or above, whose continuous employment demonstrates a substantial long-term commitment to the School, and who would be employed by the School for the duration of the grant, as well as to Centre Associates based outside the LSE. 
  • Applicants are expected to remain employed during the project period.
  • The funds must be used specifically to facilitate new or on-going research in relation to Southeast Asia. Funds will not be provided for work already done.
  • Eligible expenses include: research related travel, research assistance, translation and, in exceptional circumstances, research materials (books, secondary sources and access to primary data).
  • Ineligible expenses include: conference attendance, salaries, physical infrastructure, vehicle purchase, rent, permanent resources, large equipment, institutional overheads and endowments.


  • An interim report detailing activities undertaken so far must be submitted to at the midway point of the project period, the specific date to be mutually agreed between the awardee and the Centre. SEAC reserves the right to reduce or withdraw the award if no report is received by the deadline.
  • A concise final report, including a statement of final spending, must be submitted within three months of the end of the project period. A SEAC post-grant report template will be provided by the Centre.
  • Each grant recipient is required to produce at least one Working Paper as part of the SEAC Working Paper Series, in addition to an op-ed or blog post, and to present their research at a public lecture/seminar hosted by SEAC.
  • Successful applicants are expected to participate actively within the SEAC community, including lectures, seminars, workshops and conferences.
  • Successful applicants are expected to publish academic outputs, which are to acknowledge SEAC’s contribution and following the Centre’s guidance which will be provided in the award confirmation letter.  


Applications should comprise the applicant’s short form CV (max. 4 pages) along with the SEAC Research Fund Application Form which comprises:


PROPOSAL (1500 words max)

  • Research question, including context and aims
  • Contribution to the literature and research on Southeast Asia
  • Theoretical framework and methodology
  • Outline of activities and a clear timeline
  • Anticipated outputs


  • Any staff costings should factor in additional costs arising from pay awards implemented by LSE and employer on-costs.
  • Salary costs should be obtained from the Research Division.
  • Goods and services imported from abroad are usually subject to VAT of 20%, and this should be included in the budget.

Proposals are to be submitted electronically by 1st February 2021 to the Centre Manager:  

Criteria applied in grant awards

Applications will be assessed independently by a Review Panel of LSE SEAC Associates.  The Committee will assess proposals based on the following:

  • Originality, significance, and rigour of proposed the research
  • Feasibility (on-time completion and delivery of proposed outcomes)
  • Value for money

Award of Funds

  • Decisions will be made by 1st March 2020, with funding available for projects to start from 1st April 2021.
  • Funds will only be accessible after SEAC has received the signed award letter from the successful applicant.
  • Grants must be used solely for the purposes set out in the award letter, though an investigator may transfer a maximum of £750 between budget category headings without approval to SEAC. Requests for virement in excess of this amount should be addressed to the SEAC Centre Manager.
  • SEAC requires successful applicants to comply with LSE’s Research Ethics Policy. You should consult the LSE’s guidelines and submit the Research Ethics Review checklist within 2 weeks of the award date.
  • Projects are expected to be completed by the end of July 2022. Extensions may be granted with prior approval from the SEAC Centre Director.

Further information is available from the LSE SEAC Manager, Dr Do Young Oh:



2019 - 2020 Academic Year

Funded Research Project:

The Kleptocrat’s Accomplice? The Political Economy of Professional Intermediaries and the Plunder of Poor Countries

This project examines the role played by lawyers, accountants, and other professional service providers in enabling the transfer of illicit money out of resource-rich but people-poor countries and into the financial systems of developed economies in the West and, increasingly, the East. High profile investigations by journalists exposing the 1MDB, Luanda Leaks, and Panama Papers scandals, have highlighted the part played by professional intermediaries, sometimes internationally-branded firms operating in major financial centres, in helping globally mobile elites move, launder, and protect ill-gotten gains. The project asks what drives the decisions and behaviours of these professionals as they manage the tension between the pressure to bring in new client revenue and the obligation to comply with anti-money laundering requirements. It analyses and compares four jurisdictions: Singapore, Hong Kong, London, and Dubai. It examines how the behaviour of professional service providers in each jurisdiction changed in response to the historical evolution in the institutions regulating money-laundering and to major media investigations exposing professional service provider complicity.

mcdoom profile photo

Dr. Omar Shahabudin McDoom, Principal Investigator

Dr McDoom is an Assistant Professor in Comparative Politics in the LSE’s Department of Government. Before entering academia, he worked for the World Bank on international development policy and strategy. He is also an Attorney admitted in New York.


Strengthening Landscape Governance: comparing institutional designs under rapid change in Papua, Indonesia



Rural landscapes throughout Southeast Asia are changing because of agricultural commercialization, and a growing concern about forest conservation and reforestation. But are these new environmental initiatives inclusive and effective? In some locations such as Papua – the most eastern province of Indonesia on the border with Papua New Guinea – local people and human rights groups are worried that forest policy will actually hurt local agriculture and reduce the opportunities for development experienced by local people.

In this new research project beginning in January 2020, two members of the London School of Economics and Political Science will undertake detailed field research to identify lessons for integrating national forest policy with local development in the Indonesia province of Papua. The research will compare two zones where commercialization and forest policies have been undertaken in different ways. The objectives of this work will be to advise national and international approaches to forest policy, and to represent the views of local people.

tim peatlands cropped

Prof. Tim Forsyth, Principal Investigator

Prof. Tim Forsyth is professor of environment and development in the Department of International Development, LSE. He has undertaken research in various places in Southeast Asia, and especially in Thailand. He is the author of Forest Guardians, Forest Destroyers: The politics of environmental knowledge in northern Thailand (University of Washington Press, 2008, with Andrew Walker).


Prof. Gill Shepherd, Co-Investigator

Prof. Gill Shepherd is a visiting professor in the Department of Anthropology, LSE. She has worked with the Overseas Development Institute and Centre for International Forestry Research. She has specialised in inclusive politics to landscape governance in the tropics and has advised international organizations such as the World Bank, the European Commission, United Nations, as well as with the UK’s Department for International Development’s Multistakeholder Forestry Programme in Indonesia, including Papua.





2018 - 2019 Academic Year


The Palm Oil Concession Moratorium and its Spatial Impact on Deforestation


This project aims to analyse the effectiveness of the 2011 Moratorium on Palm Oil, Timber and Logging concessions, issued by then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in compliance to the REDD+ agreement reached by Norway and Indonesia in May 2010. The Moratorium sought to halt the conversion of primary forest and peatlands into palm oil, timber and logging estates, thus slowing down the intensive deforestation processes which characterised the Indonesian land-use sector in the previous decades.

This project is attempting to answer the following questions using a unique spatially defined dataset on land-use, forest fires and oil-palm production, combined with econometric methods for impact analysis:

  • Has the Moratorium been effective in slowing down deforestation within its declared perimeter? Have there been differences in the rates of deforestation observed among the three different land-use designations?
  • What are the industry-specific drivers of deforestation in the agricultural and land-use sector?
  • Is it possible to assess whether the presence of foreign investors, namely Multinational Enterprises, has intensified the deforestation process? Which characteristics of the Multinationals involved in the Indonesian agricultural sector play a major role in their propensity to clear forested land?
  • Is there a causal link between rural poverty and deforestation? Do Multinationals take advantage of relative deprivation in rural areas to perpetrate heavier deforestation practices?

Dr Ben Groom, Principal Investigator

Ben Groom is an Associate Professor of Environment and Development Economics in the LSE Department of Geography and Environment. 


Dr Charles Palmer, Principal Investigator

Charles Palmer is an Associate Professor of Environment and Development at the LSE Department of Geography and Environment. 


Lorenzo Sileci, Research Assistant

Lorenzo has recently completed his MSc Environmental Economics and Climate Change (Distinction) at LSE, with a thesis on palm oil-induced deforestation in Indonesia. 


2016 - 2017 Academic Year

In February 2016, six projects were awarded funding of £7,500 from the LSE SEAC Research Fund for research activities taking place in academic years 2015/16 and 2016/17. The recipient projects focus on a range of different topics and Southeast Asian countries, with principal investigators from different disciplines.

As part of the deliverables, LSE SEAC Research Fund recipients will present their findings at a dedicated public seminar series organised by LSE SEAC between January and March 2018.

Funded research projects


The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Vietnam’s Position in the Global Textile and Apparel Industry: implications for regional investments, trade, and labour

Focusing on the case of Asian trans-national producers, this project will address the main investment and trade shifts that will take place locally and regionally as part of Vietnam's accession to the TPP and the implications of these shifts for Vietnam in regard to labour rights.

Principal investigator: Dr Shamel Azmeh, Visiting Fellow at the Middle East Centre, LSE.


From Alternative Development to Sustainable Development: a case study of Myanmar

The Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia has been a major opium-producing area in the world since WWII, making drug policy a significant issue in the region. This project aims to establish Sustainable Development as the key framework for drug policy reform in Myanmar above current policy recommendations that focus on the symptomatic issues surrounding problematic drug use.

Principal investigator: Dr John Collins, Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Unit, United States Centre, LSE.


Explaining Shifts in U.S. Burma Policy: the role of foreign policy entrepreneurs

Myanmar’s democratic reforms have followed a prior major change in U.S. Burma policy, namely the Obama administration’s decision to re-engage the military regime in 2009. This project will examine the major shifts in US policy toward Myanmar and explain these as instances of successful foreign policy entrepreneurship. 

Principal investigatorDr Jürgen Haacke, SEAC Director and Associate Professor in International Relations at LSE.


Developing a General Equilibrium Model for Vietnam to Capture the Economic Impact of Social Protection Programmes

Vietnam’s national social protection strategy has been more comprehensive and effective than that of many countries in Southeast Asia. This project will develop a new social accounting matrix and a General Equilibrium Model to represent Vietnam’s economy and to offer a comparison point with Cambodia, where the social protection strategy struggles to materialise.

Principal investigator: Dr Stephanie Levy, Guest Lecturer at the Department of International Development, LSE.


Communal Violence, Mujahedin and Child Fighters: a history of the Ambon Conflict 1999-2003

The objective of this project is to analyse the causes and the dynamics of the Ambon conflict, an understudied communal conflict which saw large scale violence between Muslims and Christians in Indonesia. Part of the project will also focus on the not insignificant number of child fighters involved in the conflict.

Principal investigator: Dr Kirsten Schulze, SEAC Associate and Associate Professor in International History at LSE.


Property before People: real estate assets, inequalities and contestation of property rights in Southeast Asia

This project aims to understand inequalities associated with real estate asset accumulation, and people’s contestation of property rights in Southeast Asia, especially in Singapore and Vietnam. By examining the changing perception of these issues would provide insight into how housing inequalities are closely related to the broader structural issues of state legitimacy and social stability.

Principal investigator: Dr Hyun Bang Shin, SEAC Associate and Associate Professor of Geography and Urban Studies at LSE.


ssh building

SEAC Visiting Appointment Scheme Information about the new stipendiary visitor scheme at SEAC for 2019/20