Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

International Relations and Security

In this Section:

Our research aims to explain, interpret, understand and assess relations between states, focusing specifically on instances where states and non-state actors intervene in the affairs of others for the purpose of advancing political/security interests and/or humanitarian agendas. 

We aim to collect and analyse empirical data about intervention and international relations more generally and to interrogate the theoretical assumptions driving such practices. We aim to make significant contributions to academic research in this area by leading and contributing to cutting-edge research projects that address the major themes identified by research councils and wider society.

We contribute to the development of the international relations discipline by acting as peer reviewers, trustees of BISA, conveners of the BISA Working Group on Intervention and The Responsibility to Protect (R2P), editors of journals, external examiners and we are regularly attending or organising conferences.

We also aim to inform non-academic understanding of the issues by reporting to Parliamentary Committees (Ralph, Newman) and cultivating partnerships with policymakers and the wider policy community, for instance the Foreign Policy Centre and the United Nations Association.

PhD students

We support the next generation of researchers by hosting post-doctoral fellows and doctoral students, including offering research council scholarships in this area.  We also run successful Masters programmes. We fully integrate PhD, Masters and Undergraduate students into the research environment by hosting guest speakers, organising research workshops and other events, and encouraging the student-led journal Human Rights Journal. 

History of the group  

The research group has benefitted from the arrival of new staff in recent years. Strategic appointments have complemented existing strengths and focused the research and research-led teaching agenda. Professor Edward Newman was appointed in 2013 and is a world-leading academic in Security Studies, focusing specifically on human security, peacebuilding and the R2P. Also in 2013 Associate Professor Lars Berger was appointed to the group. Professor Berger’s work focuses on terrorism, the domestic determinants underpinning Western interventions, political Islam and the Middle East.

Research into International Relations and Security at the school of Politics and International Studies concentrates on security interventions, in particular the legal, normative and political aspects influencing the use of state power.

The group uses a variety of theories and methods to analyse intervention, examples including the English School and normative theory (Dyer, Gallagher and Ralph), Human Security and Peacebuilding (Newman), interdisciplinary political-legal studies (Craig).

Other examples include Time Series analyses examining the effect of the Iraq Intervention on other actors in the international system (Davies) as well as analysis informed by liberal theory of the domestic determinants underpinning Western interventions (Berger).

This focus on international intervention is informed by critical analysis of political conflicts in the Asia-Pacific (Edney, McCargo, Tyson), the Middle East (Berger, Craig, Lewis and Worrall), and Africa (Beresford), as well as British, European and US foreign policy analysis (Atkins, Berger, Davies, Honeyman, Ralph and Winn).

The International Relations and Security Group welcome research proposals on a wide range of issues associated with international society, human security and peacekeeping.

Staff research interests include international conflict, international relations of China, international political economomy and security studies.

PhD supervision areas

Please see individual profiles for supervision details.

Dr Lars Berger
Professor Duncan McCargo
Dr Alan Craig
Dr Graeme Davies
Dr Hugh Dyer
Dr Kingsley Edney
Dr Adrian Gallagher
Dr Christine Harlen
Professor Edward Newman
Professor Jason Ralph
Dr Christina Stefan
Dr Adam Tyson
Dr Neil Winn
Dr James Worrall

Current studentships

We currently have three PhD studentships related to the White Rose DTC Network on the Responsibility to Protect and prosecute. The titles of these studentships are:

  • Moral Progress and its Political Limits: ‘Common Humanity’ as a Driver of State Behaviour.

  • Moral Progress and its Political Limits. Liberal responsibilities in an age of shifting international power balances.

  • Moral Progress and its Political Limits: Alternative Forms of Intervention.

Further information can be found on the White Rose DTC webiste.


Postgraduate taught programmes

Postgraduate taught modules

  • American Foreign Policy
  • Contemporary Politics of the Middle East
  • European Defence and Security Analysis
  • International Political Economy
  • International Relations and the Environment
  • Insurgency
  • Policing Post-Conflict Cities
  • Terrorism Counterterrorism
  • Theoretical Approaches in International Relations
  • The Politics of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Undergraduate modules

  • Crisis Diplomacy
  • International Relations of the Asia-Pacific
  • Responsibility to Protect and Prosecute
  • Security Studies
  • Terrorism, Insurgency and Political Violence
  • The Politics of Contemporary China
  • The Politics of the Middle East
  • US Foreign Policy
  • Violence and Reconciliation in Africa

Latest Key Publications

  • Beresford, A. 2012. The Politics of Regenerative Nationalism in South Africa, Journal of Southern African Studies, 38 (4). pp. 863 884.
  • Berger, L. 2012. Guns, Butter, and Human Rights: The Congressional Politics of U.S. Aid to Egypt, American Politics Research 40:4, 603-635.
  • Berger, L. 2011. The Missing Link? U.S. Policy and the International Dimensions of Authoritarian Resilience in the Arab World, Political Research, 59:1,38-55.
  • Craig, A. 2013. International Legitimacy and the Politics of Security - The Strategic Deployment of Lawyers in the Israeli Military, Lexington Books.
  • Craig, A. 2009. Lebanon 2006 and the Front of Legitimacy, Israel affairs Volume 15, Issue 4, pp. 427-444.
  • Davies, G. and Johns, R. 2013. Audience Costs among the British Public: The Impact of Escalation, Crisis Type, and Prime Ministerial Rhetoric, International Studies Quarterly, International Studies Quarterly, Volume 57, Issue 4, pages 725–737.
  • Edney, K. (Forthcoming) The Globalization of Chinese Propaganda: International Power and Domestic Political Cohesion, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Edney, K. 2012. Soft Power and the Chinese Propaganda System, Journal of Contemporary China, Volume 21, No. 78, pp. 899-914.
  • Gallagher, A. (Forthcoming) Syria and the indicators of a ‘manifest failing', International Journal of Human Rights.
  • Gallagher, A. 2013. Genocide and Its Threat to Contemporary International Order,Palgrave.
  • McCargo, D. 2012. Mapping National Anxieties, Copenhagen: NIAS Press
  • McCargo, D.J. 2008. Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand Cornell University Press.
  • Newman, E. 2013. R2P: Implications for World Order’, Global Responsibility to Protect, Volume 5, No.3.
  • Newman, E. 2010. Critical Human Security Studies, Review of International Studies, Volume36, No.1.
  • Ralph, J. 2013 America's War on Terror. The State of the 9/11 Exception from Bush to Obama, Oxford University Press.
  • Ralph, J. 2013 The liberal state in international society. Interpreting recent British foreign policy, International Relations, Online 1 September 2013, Pre-publication version available at White Rose Research Online.
  • Worrall, J. 2012. State Building and Counter Insurgency in Oman: Political, Military and Diplomatic Relations at the End of Empire London: IB Tauris.
  • Worrall, J. 2012. Oman: The ‘Forgotten Corner’ of the Arab Spring, Middle East Policy Volume 19, No. 3.

Annual Seminar Series and Conferences

International Relations and Security group host the ESRC funded seminar series 'Responsibility to Protect and Prosecute'. This year's series is entitled 'The Political Sustainability of Liberal Norms in an Age of Shifting Power Balances' and is led by Professor Jason Ralph.

This project focuses on R2P and the International Criminal Court of what it calls the liberal trajectory of contemporary international security. This captures the sense in which the meaning of sovereignty has changed and the state’s right to govern is now contingent on it fulfilling certain responsibilities to its population.

The debate centres on the concern that states will use the humanitarian agendas associated with the RtoP and ICC as veils to disguise the pursuit of political (even neo-imperial) goals. While this argument has long been present in the academic literature and in the statements of rejectionist states, it took on additional significance during the 2011 Libyan crisis when the NATO-led coalition was accused of going beyond the politically neutral protection of civilians mandate to pursue a politically loaded policy of regime change.

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