We perform a general algebraic analysis on the possibility of realising slow-roll inflation in the moduli sector of string models. This problem turns out to be very closely related to the characterisation of models admitting metastable vacua with non-negative cosmological constant. In fact, we show that the condition for the existence of viable inflationary trajectories is a deformation of the condition for the existence of metastable de Sitter vacua. This condition depends on the ratio between the scale of inflation and the gravitino mass and becomes stronger as this parameter grows. After performing a general study within arbitrary supergravity models, we analyse the implications of our results in several examples. More concretely, in the case of heterotic and orientifold string compactifications on a Calabi-Yau in the large volume limit we show that there may exist fully viable models, allowing both for inflation and stabilisation. Additionally, we show that subleading corrections breaking the no-scale property shared by these models always allow for slow-roll inflation but with an inflationary scale suppressed with respect to the gravitino scale. A scale of inflation larger than the gravitino scale can also be achieve
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