Skip to main content

Research areas

Our department is pluralist in nature, made up of four distinct research clusters. Each cluster has its own particular research culture and strategy, reflected in the wide range of subject pathways that students can choose from at both undergraduate and Masters level.

We also host three active research centres and one research group which strengthen our research culture and provide access to our cutting-edge research activities for staff, students, and the general public.

While many of our research projects, publications, workshops, and other activities fit within these eight centres and clusters, many of them are cross-disciplinary or otherwise defy neat categorisation as we follow where the research leads. To see what we're working on now as well as browse past projects, you can either explore individual centre and cluster sites or view the consolidated list on our projects listing. You can also view our seminar series and browse upcoming or past seminars, workshops, colloquia, etc., on our events page.

Research Centres

Centre for the Study of Democratisation

Democratisation has become a central political theme and features now prominently on the foreign policy agenda of western countries. The Centre for Studies in Democratisation (CSD) is a long-term, multidisciplinary initiative that seeks to understand why, how and when democracies emerge, sustain or collapse. It also investigates the reasons why democratisation can sometimes be problematic.

Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation

The Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR) aims to advance new research on the changing nature of global order and the relationship between global and regional levels of analysis that informs contemporary policy debates. CSGR’s research priorities focus on the changing dynamics of globalisation and regionalisation, global governance and global order, and global civil society.

Centre for Ethics, Law and Public Affairs

The Centre for Ethics, Law, and Public Affairs (CELPA)

coordinates and develops the activities of researchers in the university with interests in normative inquiry into public affairs. CELPA’s mission is to facilitate discussion and promote collaborative research in these areas and to provide a home for PhD students and academics working on ethical and political ideals and their application to different aspects of law, politics, and public policy. Members CELPA include academic staff and research students from PAIS, Philosophy, and Law.

Interdisciplinary Ethics Research Group

The Interdisciplinary Ethics Research Group (IERG) is involved in many funded projects in which unusual moral issues arise. Many are to do with the use of new technologies, especially cyber-based technologies in security and health, including public health. IERG also has a track record in the ethics of finance and in the ethics of international relations. IERG works with academic partners in a range of fields including human rights law, engineering, computer science, forensic linguistics, business studies, economics and other social sciences. All IERG research involves direct participation of relevant practitioners including police and border guards, technology developers, security policy makers and bankers, health care workers amongst others. In addition to research projects, IERG is involved in ethics advisory work.

Research Clusters

The Comparative Politics and Democratisation cluster benefits from a wide range of expertise of the academic community in the department. Thus, it addresses not only a wide range of substantive topics, with a special focus on democratisation, but also brings together our broad methodological expertise.

The Political Theory cluster is diverse in its interests and approach. We have a sizeable group of analytic political philosophers engaged in normative analysis, working on areas such as upbringing and the rights of children, the ethics of family relationships, the regulation of faith schooling, equality of opportunity, luck egalitarianism, the responsibilities of citizenship, the accommodation of cultural diversity, intergenerational justice, the ethics of climate change, and the ethics of policing and surveillance. The activities of this group are complemented by research agendas in democratic representation, theories of political performance, Shakespeare and ideas of territory, and Foucault's thought.

The International Political Economy cluster represents a wide range of expertise in PAIS that supports its longstanding and global reputation in the field. It brings together scholars undertaking cutting-edge research in the areas of international economic management and global governance, feminist political economy, the political economy of gender, everyday and cultural political economy, international development, history of economic thought and classical political economy, the political economy of trade and finance, rising powers, ethics, business culture, and the conceptualization of systemically important financial institutions, comparative political economy and more.

Traditionally, the field of International Relations (IR) and International Security (IS) was primarily focused on understanding war, peace, and the international system. The security and survival of states, and the power dynamics between them took centre-stage. Today, the agenda of the IR-IS terrain has broadened and deepened signifiantly to include a wider range of issues and actors, from climate change and migration to intelligence and the distribution of resources. The breadth of the field is reflected in the IR-IS Research Cluster in PAIS.