Politics and International Relations

Researchers in the Department of Politics & International Relations (PIR) investigate some of the most critical political problems facing contemporary democracies, at several levels of analysis: local/sub-national, national, and regional/international.  These topics range from disputes over power-sharing in multi-ethnic states to concerns about political representation in democratic republics to debates about the future role of the European Union and other experiments in regional governance and international organisation.  The Department also pursues a high degree of interdisciplinary research on more focused topics, such as energy policy, environmental policy, health policy, and identity politics (gender and ethnicity), all of which span the traditional division between domestic/comparative and international politics.  In recent years, the Department has focused on four core research themes:

a) Political Organisation and Participation;

b) Conflict and Security Studies;

c) Comparative Politics; and

d) International Relations Theory. 

Our specific research projects, networks, and outputs overlap across these themes, and PIR does not maintain a rigid barrier between the fields of Politics and International Relations in developing research projects.  Most if not all of our staff members incorporate a comparative/international dimension to their work, even though their primary focus might be on various aspects of domestic politics.  We also attempt to balance the more traditional focus on empirical political behaviour with a more critical examination of the conventional wisdom about political life, both in advanced democracies and in the developing world.  Finally, our research culture is explicitly interdisciplinary in nature, and involves intensive collaborations with other disciplines, in the social sciences and otherwise, especially in the areas of security/conflict resolution, representation/civil society, various aspects of public policy (particularly health, energy, environment, and technology), and the politics of identity. Contributing to our postgraduate research can be done through the following degrees.


A PhD typically takes 36 months of full-time, or 60 months of part-time study. Students wishing to pursue PhD research at the Department are usually registered initially for the taught MRes, with a view to transfer to PhD, unless they have received prior research training on Politics/IR or a cogent discipline.


The MRes in Social Science is a one-year research degree, combining specialist and generic training to equip you with transferable skills for graduate employment in the public, private and third sector. It also lays the foundation to undertake advanced doctoral studies.   Click here for further information.

Research Topics

For an idea of research areas covered in the Department, you may want to check the PhD Supervision page for a detailed break-down of individual staff-members’ expertise