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Nick Vaughan-Williams

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 a Philip Leverhulme Prize 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 completed a Post-Graduate Certificate in Academic and Professional Practice (PGCAPP) at 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. His latest single-authored monograph is Europe's Border Crisis: Biopolitical Security and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2015). 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. 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, International Political Sociology, Political Geography, Review of International Studies, and Security Dialogue. He is founding co-editor of the Routledge book series Interventions, which has published 90 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, 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

My research is located at the intersection of International Relations, Critical Security Studies, and contemporary 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.

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 borders, and the interaction between border controls, the experiences of 'irregular' migrants, and humanitarian critique. My new Leverhulme-funded project investigates everyday narratives of border security and insecurity among 'regular' populations in Europe against the backdrop of the Mediterranean migration and refugee crisis and connects with debates in ontological security studies.

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).
  • 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.

Recent and forthcoming publications since 2014 (select)

  • Everyday Security Threats: Perceptions, Experiences, and Consequences (Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2016). Co-authored with Daniel Stevens.
  • Europe's Border Crisis: Biopolitical Security and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • Critical Security Studies: An Introduction, Second Edition (Routledge, 2014). Co-authored with Columba Peoples.
  • European-East Asian Borders in Translation (Routledge, 2014). Co-edited with Joyce C. H. Liu.
  • 'Fit for Purpose? Fitting Ontological Security Studies "into" the Discipline of International Relations: Towards a Vernacular Turn', Cooperation and Conflict (forthcoming, 2017). With Stuart Croft.
  • ‘Vernacular Theories of Everyday (In)Security: The Disruptive Potential of Non-Elite Knowledge’, Security Dialogue, 47(1) (January, 2016), pp.40-58. With Daniel Stevens.

  • 'Citizens and Security Threats: Issues, Perceptions, and Consequences Beyond the National Frame', British Journal of Political Science, 46(1) (January, 2016), pp. 149-175. With Daniel Stevens.
  • '"We are not animals!" Humanitarian Border Security and Zoopolitical Spaces in EUrope', Political Geography, 45 (March, 2015), pp. 1-10 [11,500 words]. Lead article. Featured in an open access virtual special issue on 'the politics of migration' here.
  • 'Security and the Performative Politics of Resilience: Critical Infrastructure Protection and Humanitarian Emergency Preparedness', Security Dialogue, 46(1) (February, 2015), pp. 32-50. With James Brassett.
  • 'New Materialisms, Discourse Analysis, and International Relations: A Radical Intertextual Approach', Review of International Studies, 41(1) (January, 2015), pp. 3-25. With Tom Lundborg. Available online here. Lead article.

[Full list of research publications]

PhD completions

  • 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-supervisor with Dr Trevor McCrisken.
  • Dr Hidefumi Nishiyama (2011-2015), now Institute of Advanced Study Early Career Fellow, University of Warwick. 'Race, Biometrics, and Security in Modern Japan: A History of Racial Government'. PAIS East Asia Research Studentship, University of Warwick. Co-supervisor with Prof Chris Hughes.
  • Dr Georg Lofflmann (2011-2014), now Teaching Fellow in United States Foreign Policy, 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-supervisor with Prof Stuart Croft.
  • Dr Maurice Stierl (2011-2014), now Assistant Professor, University of California, Davis. 'Migration Resistance as Border Politics: Counter-Imaginaries of EUrope'. WPRS Scholarship, PAIS, University of Warwick. Co-supervisor 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

  • Miriam Grinberg, PAIS East Asia Research Studentship, with Prof Chris Hughes.
  • Rogan Collins, Warwick ESRC DTC Research Studentship, with Dr Vicki Squire.
  • Mara Duer, PAIS Political Spaces Studentship, with Prof Stuart Elden.

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

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

Teaching and administration

In 2015/16 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 am serving 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 (



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