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Politics and International Relations

Unit(s) of assessment: Social Work and Social Policy

Research theme: Safety and Security of Citizens and Society

School: School of Social Sciences


Research in Politics and International Relations

Research in Politics and International Relations considers the complexity and connectedness of the political and international processes and theories that shape our lives at local, national and global levels.

Our research benefits from the recent coming together of two formerly distinct but nonetheless well-established subject teams to form the Division of Politics & International Relations, as well as a new group of academic staff who joined us in September 2013. This has resulted in the creation of a large body of active researchers, and provides us with the opportunity to produce exciting and collaborative research. Our research is supported by the active engagement of students on our two MAs in Politics and in International Relations, as well as our large group of PhD students.

Research interests in the Division of Politics and International Relations are coordinated within five research clusters, although there is significant research collaboration across these clusters. These are:

  • Citizens, Parties and Political Action – In this area, research focuses on political participation in the context of an apparent withdrawal of citizens from the formal political processes and democratic institutions in contemporary Britain. People seem less committed to national political systems and mainstream political parties, and increasingly susceptible to radical parties and to their rhetoric; they also appear to be deeply sceptical of governments and of the political classes in general. We are interested in finding out what lies at the heart of this apparent malaise, and what opportunities there are for citizens to engage in public and political life.
  • Ethics, Ecology, Identity – This is a theory-based research group, with work that is informed most centrally by the traditions of, and developments in, contemporary continental philosophy and by the history of political thought more generally. With a series of research themes that range across ethics, politics and art in the broadest sense, the group interrogate questions of: identity and difference, conceptually and concretely via notions of subjectivity and gender; eco-logics (sustainability, anthropocentrisms and the human relationship to nature); ethics, ontology and the political.
  • Insecurity, Political Violence and Change – This research group  is made up of an active community of scholars interested in a wide variety of issues and themes related to Security Studies and the study of Terrorism and Political Violence. Scholars within this group engage in research covering a broad range of related issues including: terrorism, insurgency and civil wars; radicalisation and counter-radicalisation; regional foreign and security policy; democratisation and conflict resolution; and the politics of identity. The cluster is characterised by a strong interest in interpretive approaches to international relations, with a focus on the analysis of security issues using critical methods of social inquiry.
  • Middle East and North Africa – The group’s research explores historical and contemporary events, issues and processes that inform the politics, international relations and political economy of the Middle East and North Africa. Its members draw upon an eclectic range of methodological and theoretical approaches to analyse the complexities of one of the most widely reported, yet perhaps least understood regions of the world. Our research benefits from expertise in different fields, with scholarly work in International Relations, Politics, History and Business coming together to form a heterodox research environment.
  • Politics, Innovation and Pedagogy – This research cluster draws upon staff expertise within both of the Politics and the International Relations subject areas. The aim of this research cluster is to review and develop teaching practice within the discipline. Members of this cluster are currently involved in projects exploring; the teaching of research methods in Politics and International Relations – with a particular focus on quantitative methods teaching and the extent to which methods teaching can (and should) be embedded within the wider curriculum; the internationalisation of the curriculum – with a particular focus on the impact/benefits of study abroad and online international learning experiences; transition to University education and undergraduate recruitment. In addition, members of the PIP group are interested in enhancing the skills, knowledge and intra-cultural awareness of Politics and IR students through a number of innovative projects that seek to embed key employability skills within the undergraduate curriculum – such as incorporating international volunteering opportunities into modules and developing dual awards in partnership with European universities. Members of PIP regularly attend teaching and learning conferences and one day events hosted by the HEA and the PSA Teaching and Learning group. One member of the cluster is currently a co-opted member of the Education and Skills sub-committee of the Political Studies Association of the UK’s executive team with a remit of enhancing undergraduate student engagement with the professional body.


We continue to develop professional relations with a number of local, national and international organisations and agencies through our research activities. These relationships underpin our ambitions to reach out beyond the university sector, and to conduct research that is socially innovative, exciting, relevant and valuable. Through our research, we have recently connected with:

Related Projects

Researchers in the Citizens, Parties and Political Action research cluster are currently working on a major national study, the "Young People and Politics in Britain" project. This £96,000 study has been awarded funding by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and examines young people's attitudes towards politics in Britain. Results from the study challenge the widely-held view that today's generation of youth is increasingly reluctant to play a role in political life, and is dismissive of the formal political process and democratic institutions. The project is based on a national online survey of 1,025 young people and the results from fourteen online focus groups.

Researchers in the Middle East and North Africa research cluster are currently working on a number of projects including one titled "Economic integration and political cooperation in the MENA region". This project examines regional economic integration through the creation of preferential trade agreements in the form of free trade agreements (FTAs) and economic unions, and examines the subsequent impact on political cooperation between participating governments.

The Ethics, Ecology, Identity research cluster are presently involved in a number of projects emerging from conference activities and research in progress. Specific areas of engagement include: modalities of difference in ethics, politics and art; feminism and green political thought; human attitudes to nature; sustainability and education.