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Nick Vaughan-Williams

Professor Nick Vaughan-Williams is Professor of International Security and Head of the Department of Politics and International Studies (PAIS) at the University of Warwick. From 2016 to 2019 he holds the Philip Leverhulme Prize for research in Politics and International Studies. Before joining Warwick he held Lectureships in Politics at the University of Exeter and in International Theory and Security at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He studied Modern History at Oxford University (BA and MA) and International Relations at the University of Warwick (MA) and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (PhD). He holds a Post-Graduate Certificate in Academic and Professional Practice (PGCAPP) from the University of Exeter and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

He has published 9 books as either author, co-author, or co-editor in the field of International Security and Border Studies, and is currently working on a new single-authored monograph based on his current Leverhulme-funded project. His most recent single-authored book is Europe's Border Crisis: Biopolitical Security and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2015) reviewed in Antipode and the Times Literary Supplement. His earlier book, Border Politics: The Limits of Sovereign Power (Edinburgh University Press, 2009, 2012), was Gold Winner of the Association for Borderlands Studies Past Presidents' Book Award and reviewed in Environment and Planning D. He is also co-author of Everyday Security Threats: Perceptions, Experiences, and Consequences (Manchester University Press, 2016) and of Critical Security Studies: An Introduction, now in its second edition (Routledge, 2010, 2015), and co-editor of five volumes including European-East Asian Borders in Translation (Routledge, 2014).

He has published more than 35 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and his work has appeared in outlets such as British Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Cooperation and Conflict, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, European Journal of International Relations, International Political Sociology, Political Geography, Review of International Studies, and Security Dialogue. He is founding co-editor of the Routledge book series Interventions, which in 10 years has published 100 volumes, and is on the Editorial Board of Geopolitics. His Google Scholar Citations webpage can be found here.

His research has been supported with 6 externally-funded grants as either Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator from the British Academy, The Leverhulme Trust, and the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Recent findings have been presented to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the EU Commission and Frontex, the Maltese Presidency, and various civil society groups. Media coverage has included pieces in The Washington Post and The Guardian. 

Research overview

Keywords: Borders, migration, security, sovereignty, political spaces, everyday, violence, power, subjectivity

My research is located at the intersection of International Relations and Security Studies, Border and Migration Studies, and European Social and Political Theory. Running throughout my research agenda is a core focus on the changing nature and location of borders and bordering practices in global politics. I am especially interested in the various ways in which 'the border' is not always what or where we expect it to be according to the modern geopolitical imagination and what this tells us about sovereignty, security, and space.

While my work is conceptually-driven, I have written extensively about UK and EU border security policies and practices, the off-shoring and out-sourcing of border controls, and the interaction between border security apparatuses, the experiences of 'irregular' migrants, and humanitarian critique. My Leverhulme-funded project investigates everyday narratives of border security and insecurity among citizens in Europe against the backdrop of the Mediterranean migration and refugee 'crisis'. This programme of activity includes two phases of focus group work in cities across Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the UK.

A full list of research publications can be found here.

Externally-funded projects (select)

  • The Leverhulme Trust (2016-19) 'Everyday Narratives of European Border Security and Insecurity' (2015 Philip Leverhulme Prize in Politics and International Relations, PLP-2015-081, £100,000.00) (Principal Investigator), with Georg Lofflmann (RA). Project website.
  • ESRC (2015-17) 'Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat: Mapping and Documenting Migratory Journeys and Experiences' (ES/N013646/1, £161,524.00 FEC) (Co-Investigator), with Vicki Squire (PI), Dallal Stevens, Angeliki Dimitriadi, and Maria Pisani. Project website.
  • ESRC, AHRC, Dstl (2013-15) 'Science and Security: Research Impact and Co-Production of Knowledge' (ES/K011367/1, £120,832.00 FEC) (Co-Investigator), with Jon Coaffee (PI), Stuart Croft, George Christou, and Oz Hassan. Project website.
  • ESRC (2012-13) 'Public Perceptions of Threat in Britain: Security in an Age of Austerity' (ES/J004596/1, £99,960.40 FEC) (Co-Investigator), with Daniel Stevens (PI). Project website.
  • British Academy-National Science Foundation Taiwan (2011) 'European-East Asian Critical Border Studies' (JP100035, £8,000.00) (Principal Investigator), with Joyce C. H. Liu.
  • British Academy (2007-8) 'Lines in the Sand? Non-Territorial Bordering Practices in Global Politics' (SG-50847, £5,530.00) (Principal Investigator), with Noel Parker.

PhD completions

  • Dr Miriam Grinberg (2012-2016) 'The US-Japan Alliance and the Relocation of Futenma: Sites of Discursive Exchange in the Reproduction of Security Alliances'. PAIS East Asia Research Studentship, University of Warwick. Co-supervised with Professor Chris Hughes.
  • Dr Tanvi Pate (2011-2015), 'US and the Global Nuclear Order: Narrative Identity and the Representation of India as the "Other" 1993-2009'. PAIS, University of Warwick. Co-supervised with Dr Trevor McCrisken.
  • Dr Hidefumi Nishiyama (2011-2015), now Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Oulu. 'Race, Biometrics, and Security in Modern Japan: A History of Racial Government'. PAIS East Asia Research Studentship, University of Warwick. Co-supervised with Professor Chris Hughes.
  • Dr Georg Lofflmann (2011-2014), now Research and Teaching Fellow in International Security, University of Warwick. 'The Fractured Consensus: How Competing Visions of Grand Strategy Challenge the Geopolitical Identity of American Leadership under the Obama Presidency'. PAIS, University of Warwick. Co-supervised with Professor Stuart Croft.
  • Dr Maurice Stierl (2011-2014), now Visiting Assistant Professor, University of California, Davis. 'Migration Resistance as Border Politics: Counter-Imaginaries of EUrope'. WPRS Scholarship, PAIS, University of Warwick. Co-supervised with Dr James Brassett.

  • Dr Sarah Bulmer (2007-2011), now Lecturer in International Relations, University of Exeter. 'Securing the Gender Order: Homosexuality and the British Armed Forces'. Departmental scholarship, Department of Politics, University of Exeter. Primary supervisor with Dr Anna Green. Winner of the 2012 International Feminist Journal of Politics 'Cynthia Enloe' Award.

PhDs in progress

  • Bo Christensen, PAIS Research Studentship, with Professor Tony King.
  • Rogan Collins, Warwick ESRC DTC Research Studentship, with Dr Vicki Squire.
  • Mara Duer, PAIS Political Spaces Research Studentship, with Professor Stuart Elden.

  • Katie Dingley, CSGR and GB-Sasakawa Foundation Studentship, with Professor Chris Hughes.

  • Victoria Pereyra, Warwick Research Studentship, with Professor Shirin Rai.

Please note that I am currently not taking on any additional PhD supervision.

Teaching and administration

In 2016/17 I am supervising BA dissertations, but as Head of Department (0.8 FTE) I am not teaching my own module. In previous years I have acted as Programme Director for the MA in International Relations and Module Director and Seminar Tutor for the core module PO926 'Theories and Issues in International Relations'. I have also taught PO967 'New Security Challenges' and advised a number of MA dissertations on a wide range of topics in PAIS. At Exeter and Aberystwyth I taught on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules in International Relations and Security.

I was part of the REF2014 planning team, which saw PAIS rank 6th on raw GPA and 4th on intensity for overall research quality. As Director of Research Impact, between 2012 and 2015 I was responsible for the preparation of PAIS' six REF3b impact case studies and our REF3a impact template - the 4th largest submission in the Politics and International Studies Unit of Assessment and judged to be 93% 3/4* quality. I have also served as Deputy Director of Research Committee and Joint Director of Research Degrees (Scholarships).

From 2012 to 2016 I served as External Examiner of Postgraduate Taught Programmes for the School of Politics, International Studies, and Philosophy at Queen's University, Belfast.


Professor of International Security and Head of Department

  • Email:
  • Tel: +44(0)2476 523 084
  • Room: D1.22 Social Sciences
  • Advice and feedback hours: by appointment via PA

  • PA: Jade Perkins (
Research publications



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