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News and events

Find out more about the latest news and events from the Department. We also run a twitter account covering our news, events and thoughts in more detail.

Check out the schedule of our Research Seminar Series for Spring 2020.

New Feminist Theory Reading Group

Be among the first to discuss feminist and gender theory in the Department of Politics and International Relations, in our new Feminist Theory Reading Group. We are bringing together a community of postgrads and staff who are passionate about gender, race and class politics in contemporary society, or are keen to explore how feminist and gender theories can explain and change the world in which we live.

The group meets once a month in term time. During the pandemic, we'll meet virtually via Zoom.

We choose engaging and accessible texts and all are welcome.

Our first meeting will take place on Wednesday 11 November 14.00-15.15. For more details and to sign up to attend, please email Dr Georgina Holmes (

Dr Mark Shanahan in The Conversation

19/10/2020-Our Head of Department Mark Shanahan has written for The Conversation about the legacy of Donald Trump's use of social media on US Politics.


01/10/2020 - Two of our colleagues within the Department have recently contributed to the edited book United Nations Peace Operations and International Relations Theory. Edited by Kseniya Oksamytna and John Karslrud, the book is the first of its kind to apply different International Relations theories to peacekeeping studies, which historically lacked engagement with theoretical concepts and approaches.

Sarah von Billerbeck's chapter applies sociological institutionalism to UN peace operations. She examines how norms, rules, and organizational culture shape the behaviour of peacekeeping actors, arguing that peacekeepers are social agents whose behaviour is in part constituted by ideas of appropriateness that exist within the organizational environment. She uses a case study of local ownership in peacekeeping to demonstrate how UN staff sometimes engage in contradictory behaviour because of the need to perceive themselves as appropriate, legitimate, and aligned with their own institutional standards.

Georgina Holmes's chapter explores how Feminist Institutionalism can be applied to the study of peacekeeping. Drawing on field research with Ghana Armed Forces, she shows how global gendered, racial and class power relations inform institutional change processes within troop contributing militaries, and examines how frictions between internal institutional enforcers and internal/external feminist activists shape local recruitment and deployment practices. The case study is a small sample of her much larger comparative research project exploring how male and female peacekeepers are trained, socialised and deployed from Rwanda, Ghana and the UK.

The book also includes chapters on Realism, Constructivism, Practice theory, Complexity theory, and a variety of institutionalisms. We are currently sourcing it for our library but in the meantime, you can find out more here.

There will also be a launch event hosted by King's College London on Monday, 5 October 2002, 14.00-15.30 (UK). More details are available here.

Professor colin gray

The Department of Politics and International Relations was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Professor Colin Gray. Within his field of Strategic Studies, Colin was a dominant figure, unmatched both in his energy and in inventiveness. The author of 30 books and over 300 articles, he wrote with erudition and imaginative insight on subjects ranging from geopolitics and maritime strategy to nuclear arms control. His seminal metaphor - the 'strategy bridge' - conveyed the idea that the formation and execution of strategy was neither exclusively a military nor a political issue, but a frustrating mixture of the two. His varied career gave him knowledge of both ends of the bridge. As a practising military strategist, he founded the National Institute for Public Policy in Washington DC, which is still in existence today, and served from 1982 to 1987 in the Reagan Administrations General Advisory Committee on Arms Control. On his return to the UK he was appointed a defence advisor to the government of Tony Blair. His final contribution to the world of policy-making was as advisor to General Jim Mattis when he was US Secretary of Defence. The extent of his influence can be gauged from Mattis's 2019 autobiography, Call Sign Chaos, which acknowledged 'the strategic thinkers from Sun Tzu to Colin Gray who have guided me through tough challenges'.

But Colin was also devoted to academic life. He saw Strategic Studies as a branch of social science that was and should be rooted in an ethical commitment. Given that there was no prospect of doing away with war, it was incumbent on people with intellectual gifts to study it with care to minimise its ill effects. In consequence, he was determined that the art of strategy (an activity distinct from military history on the one hand and 'war studies' on the other) should have a permanent place in British universities. After Colin came to Reading in 2002, he set up the Centre for Strategic Studies. In addition, he conceived and ran an undergraduate programme - War, Peace, and International Relations - that offered an unequalled introduction to the subject. His energy and vision made Reading a global centre for studying strategy, producing well-trained graduates at every level up to PhD. In his private conversation, as in his published works, there was often as much to be learned from apparently offhand comments as from formal arguments. His personal warmth, enthusiasm, and trenchant sense of humour made him a presence in our lives who will be sadly missed.

Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou Writes for Social Europe

21/11/2019 - Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou has written an article for Social Europe titled 'Resisting the seductions of populism'. She discusses the dangers of populist rhetoric and why people should reconsider the urge to 'fight populism with populism'.

Christina Hellmich and Marina Della Giusta In Times Higher Education

19/11/2019 - In the lead up to the deadline for Special Circumstance Statements for the 2021 Ref Christina Hellmich and Marina Della Giusta wrote a piece for Times Higher Education about reproduction's true impact on academics.  They worry that "another policy purporting to be gender-equal in principle is not so in practice. " Read the full article on THE.

David Marshall Winner of Best Conference Paper Award

14/11/2019 - We are very proud to announce that our own David Marshall (and his co-authors Elin Haugsgjerd Allern, Vibeke Wøien Hansen, and Simon Otjesfor) won the award for Best Conference Paper presented at the standing group section at the ECPR Annual Conference in Wroclaw.


13/11/2019 - After graduating this summer with a BA in Politics and International Relations, Marcus Burling stayed with us to undertake a Research Placement. He has gathered his thoughts on the experience in a blog post.

"As my time studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading drew to a close, I was selected to undertake a Research Placement with the Department of Politics. I was excited about the opportunity as I knew it would mean I would be able to use the skillset I had built up over the three years as a student in meaningful academic research. Additionally, I was also keen to do something completely different to the research I undertook in my dissertation. " - Read more.

event: bbc radio 4 'Any questions?' comes to reading

18/10/2019 - The venerable BBC Radio 4 institution that is 'Any Questions?' came to the University of Reading on Friday 18 October. The broadcast was arranged by the Politics and International Relations Department and was new host Chris Mason's first show.  The other panelists were: Green Party co-leader Sian Berry, the Daily Telegraph's Madeline Grant and Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy. Reading's students helped out during the event and got to ask questions of the panelists after the show.

Cait Pilkington, a BA History and Politics student who helped during the event, said:
"I attended and helped out at the largest BBC Radio 4 Any Questions? event in its history with David Lammy MP as a panellist, which was hosted at the University. I even got to meet him and the other panellists afterwards. It's amazing experiencing first-hand politics from within the core of our political system and getting to talk to those who really make a difference."

Dr Mark Shanahan, Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations, said:
"Hosting BBC Radio 4's flagship politics discussion programme 'Any Questions?' was another great example of ways in which we break down the barriers between the study and practice of politics. We drew in almost 600 attendees from across the department, university and local community on what was Chris Mason's first show as presenter, and the night before Parliament's first Saturday sitting since the Falklands War. Our students became the show runners for the night and got to question the likes of David Lammy MP and Green party leader Sian Berry on what matters to them once the show had finished. This is the kind of opportunity we strive to create, and I'm pleased to say that the politicians keep coming back!"




military strategy experts gather at reading

18/09/2019 - Military leaders joined experts from the University of Reading to discuss joining forces for strategy education.

Dr Mark Shanahan, Head of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading said: "We had an excellent day of open, challenging, rank-blind discussion as we welcomed almost 30 military and defence personnel from across the services and the MOD's civilian staff."

The showcase also highlighted a partnership with the Henley Business School, the School of Politics, Economics and International Relations and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, which delivers the British Army's Higher Education Pathway.

Read more about this event, and the British Army's Higher Education Pathway.

News: Jamie Draper named PhD Researcher of the year

08/07/2019 - "I'm hopeful that some of my research might help policy-makers and the public to reflect on the moral values that underlie our response to migration and displacement relating to climate change."
𝗝𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗲 𝗗𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗲𝗿 from the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Reading introducing his PhD research at the University of Reading's annual PhD conference, where he was named Researcher of the Year:

NEWS: Adam Humphreys article published

01/07/2019 - The Department's Adam Humphreys has had an article entitled 'Realism, empiricism and causal inquiry in International Relations: What is at stake?' published in European Journal of International Relations.

Read it now:

News: Dr Joseph O'Mahoney co-authors Washington Post article

18/06/2019 - Our very own Joseph O'Mahoney has co-written a piece for the Washington Post on same-sex marriage in Asia, following Taiwan being the first place in Asia to perform and legally recognise it. 


29/05/2019 - On International Peacekeeping Day, Dr Georgina Holmes has had her article published in The Conversation, where she raises important questions about women in peacekeeping.

NEWS: Nominees for rusu academic excellence awards

20/05/2019- We are proud to announce that our very own Dr Patrick Finnegan,  Dr Kenton White,  Dr Mark Shanahan and Christos Vrakopoulos  were nominated for the RUSU Academic Excellence Awards by the students of SPEIR! Congratulations to the nominees and thank you to the students for putting their names forward.


NEWS: blog post from Margherita de Candia

15/05/2019 - Have you ever wondered what emotions politicians try to express through their tweets? Margherita de Candia explains here in her blog post  


News: New edition of Issues in Political Theory

26/0Issues in Political Theory cover3/2019 -  Issues in Political Theory has had its fourth edition published by Oxford University Press. The book was co-edited by University of Reading's own Dr Catriona McKinnon and Dr Robert Jubb, along with Dr Patrick Tomlin. It is available to purchase now:


SPEIR has a new mascot and we want YOU to help us choose the perfect name!

SPEIR bear railings

It is time to name The School of Politics, Economics and International Relations' wonderful new mascot. Staff and students from across the School have submitted names, now you can vote for which one is best out of our favourites! Vote by going to twitter and taking part in our poll.

Thanks so much to everyone who submitted names for the competition. Narrowing it down to just four to vote on was very difficult and we are grateful to everyone who took part. Now get voting! The winning name and who suggested it will be revealed on Thursday 27 March.

If you would like a mascot bear of your own just go to our store:

POSTPONED Event: Towards the sunlit uplands? Owen Paterson MP on Brexit

This event has been postponed due to upcoming governmental votes.

Join us in the Department of Politics & IR to welcome our latest 'Political Voice'. On March 12 we'll be speaking to Own Paterson, ERG member, staunch Brexiteer, former Secretary of State for DEFRA and Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary. With Brexit, in whatever form it takes, looming, he has plenty to say on why we should be positive about leaving the EU and the benefits of being an independent nation, free of Brussels' influence. Whatever your take on Brexit, sharing the insight of someone firmly on the conservative Eurosceptic wing is an opportunity not to be missed.

Be there, bring a flag….a Union Jack or the EU stars - the choice is yours!

NEWS: Rob Jubb Tells us what's wrong with how we talk about Civil Disobedience

19/02/2019  - Interested in what we can learn by comparing Poll Tax rioters and the members of the ANC who formed Umkhonto we Sizwe, or what's really wrong with not just John Rawls' but almost every other account of civil disobedience? Rob Jubb argues political theorists need to abandon binary theories of political authority to do so effectively.

Read his new @PolStudies article online:

News: Vladamir Rauta on Understanding the Syria Babel

23/01/2019 - New article from Vladimir Rauta and co-authors: Understanding the Syria Babel: Moral Perspectives on the Syrian Conflict from Just War to Jihad

Abstract: The war in Syria, and its ongoing analysis, is burdened by a variety of seemingly irreconcilable political motivations, actions, ideologies, religious affiliations, and power dynamics of multiple state and nonstate actors. In this context, various moral perspectives appear to come into direct conflict, underpinning the actions of the actors involved and to varying degrees influencing their competing political interests. Is there a coherent dialogue of moralities between the rivals involved or is Babel reborn with moral claims being launched but with no real exchange of meaning involved? On Syria, the answer is a complicated mixture of both but within which are important and as yet underappreciated patterns of convergence and divergence. This article looks at the leading states involved as well as the role of individuals to elucidate this pattern of overlap and difference in the morality discourses surrounding Syria. Ultimately, it is argued that a moral Babel is not reborn in Syria: there is sufficiently common moral language being used by all sides for a degree ofshared meaning to emerge. The challenge is for the protagonists to listen and really hear what is being said and work with those commonalities as tools toward peace.

News: Article from Dr Sarah Von Billerbeck

17/01/2019 - Dr Sarah von Billerbeck has published a new article in the highly-ranked European Journal of International Relations with Oisín Tansey (KCL), entitled 'Enabling Autocracy? Peacebuilding and Post-Conflict Authoritarianism in the Democratic Republic of Congo.' The article argues that UN peace operations may unintentionally enable authoritarian forms of governance in the post-conflict states where it deploys, despite their stated aim of fostering democracy. Together with Dr Birte Gippert (Liverpool), Dr von Billerbeck and Dr Tansey have been awarded an ESRC grant to conduct a broader three-year study on the topic.

News: peacekeeping after brexit

16/01/2019 - Dr Georgina Holmes and colleagues from the new BISA Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding Working Group have published the conference report ‘Peacekeeping after Brexit’, in partnership with RUSI. The report reflects on the key themes and issues discussed by some 30 academics and policymakers during a one-day roundtable held on 7 September 2018 which examined the UK’s relationship with UN peace operations in the context of Brexit.

 The report can be downloaded from the RUSI website:

Further details about the BISA Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding Working Group can be found on the BISA website:

News: Congratulations to our winter 2018 graduates

Winter 2018 Hat Toss

13/12/2018 - The Department closed out 2018 with our Winter Graduation Drinks Reception and Prize Giving. It was wonderful to see our new graduates and celebrate with them.


Congratulations to all our new graduates, and to our prize winners:


  • Elisabeth Sadler - The Peter Campbell Prize for Best Overall Performance at Masters Level - Highest Overall Average
  • Hannah Oliver - The Peter Campbell Prize for Best Overall Performance at Masters Level - Highest Mark for a Dissertation
  • Chloe Butcher - Prize for Academic Excellence for Best Academic Performance in the Masters in Public Policy

News: Martin Binder talk at University of São Paulo

12-12-2018 - Martin Binder gave a talk at the University of São Paulo (USP) on the rise of non-Western powers such as the BRICS and IBSA states. The talk was based on a paper, co-authored with Autumn Lockwood Payton (University of Dayton), that analyses the voting behaviour of the rising and established powers in the United Nations General Assembly over the period 1992-2011. The paper argues that the rising powers have begun to form a bloc of dissatisfied states that assumes a competitive posture vis-à-vis the established Western powers. It is available upon request. Dr Binder also gave the keynote speech to a workshop at USP on international responses to humanitarian crises and human rights violations. The workshop programme is available here

NEWS: Georgina Holmes published in Millennium: Journal of international studies

11-12-2018 - Dr Georgina Holmes and colleagues have recently had an article exploring the challenges of conducting feminist research in international institutions published in Millennium: Journal of International Studies. The authors draw attention to the value of postcolonial approaches and multi-site analyses of international institutions to create counter-narratives to hegemonic accounts emerging from both the institutions themselves, and scholars studying them without a critical feminist perspective.

News: Daphne Halikiopoulou discusses Populism in Nations & Nationalism

04-12-2018 - What is populism and what role does it play within the context of democratic politics? Does it cut across left-right lines? What is its relationship with nationalism? Daphne Halikiopoulou, Bart Bonikowski (Harvard), Matthijs Rooduijn (Amsterdam) and Eric Kaufmann (Birkbeck) agree and disagree while answering these questions in the new Nations&Nationalism 'Exchange' feature, just published and available on early view:

News: Sarah Von Billerbeck Talks to EU and NATO

29-11-2018 - Sarah von Billerbeck gave a talk to EU and national policymakers, policy analysts, and academics at the Egmont Institute in Brussels about the unintended consequences of UN peace operations on post-conflict governance in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her presentation was based on an article co-authored with Oisín Tansey (King's College London), which is forthcoming in the European Journal of International Relations.

Sarah von Billerbeck recently presented to a group of high-level officials from 24 international organizations along with representatives of key member states at the Meeting of Executive Managers of International Organizations (MEMIO), hosted by NATO in November. MEMIO is an informal group of senior executive managers in multilateral intergovernmental organizations that meets on an ad hoc basis to share experiences and best practices and explore future management needs and developments. Sarah's presentation on internal communications in international organizations was based upon her ESRC Future-Research Leaders project, 'Self-Legitimation in International Organizations,' in which she conducted a large comparative study of NATO, the UN, and the World Bank. She is currently exploring follow-up collaboration with a number of MEMIO participants. A brief summary of her key points and policy recommendations is available upon request - please email her for a copy.

News: Two new articles from Christoph Arndt

27/11/2018 - Dr. Christoph Arndt, Lecturer in Comparative Politics, has had two articles published recently.

1. Christoph Arndt (2018): White-Collar Unions and Attitudes towards Income Inequality, Redistribution, and State–Market Relations, published in European Sociological Review, The European Sociological Reviewis among the top 10 % journals in Sociology.

2. Georg Wenzelburger, Christoph Arndt, and Carsten Jensen (2018): Sozialstaatliche Kürzungspolitik in Deutschland: Nur eine Mär? Eine quantitative Gesetzgebungsanalyse 1974–2014, in: Politische Vierteljahresschrift, December 2018, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 681–712, The Politische Vierteljahresschrift is the leading German language political science journal.

NEWS: Launch of Dr Joseph O'Mahoney's Latest Book

22/11/2018 - Dr Joseph O'Mahoney had a launch at SOAS for the book he has co-written with Dr Enze Han (University of Hong Kong) 'British Colonialism and Criminalization of Homosexuality'.

This book provides historical evidence to demonstrate the different ways in which the British Empire spread laws criminalizing homosexual conduct amongst its colonies. Evidence includes case studies of former British colonies and the common law and criminal codes like the Indian Penal Code of 1860 and the Queensland Criminal Code of 1899. Surveying a wide range of countries, the book scrutinises whether ex-British colonies are more likely to have laws that criminalize homosexual conduct than other ex-colonies or other states in general. It interrogate the claim that British imperialism uniquely 'poisoned' societies against homosexuality, and look at the legacies of colonialism and the politics and legal status of homosexuality across the globe.

Available from Routledge

NEWS: Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou helps The Guardian Measure Populism

The Guardian introduced a project on new populism, which saw it enlist 35 political researchers, including Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou, to categorise European political parties as populist, far left, far right or Eurosceptic. Find out about their methodology on their website.

Event: Political Voices: Doctor in the House - Dr Phillip Lee MP on Brexit

Dr Phillip Lee MPVan Emden Lecture Theatre, Edith Morley,  November 15th, 19:00-21:00

Join us in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading to meet our latest 'Political Voice'. Our guest is both the MP for Bracknell and a practising GP and until June he was a Junior Justice Minister in Theresa May's Government. Yet this conservative loyalist chose to resign from government over the direction Theresa May's team has set - and in particular over the Chequers proposal.

Phillip will be talking about this and about his views on Brexit overall and its impact on the UK. A keen sportsman, he's not known for pulling political punches so there's no doubt his talk and our open Q&A session will be compelling and challenging - who knows, it might even cross a few 'red lines'.

Event: A view across the border - in conversation with Danny Kinahan

Edith Morley G25, November 13th, 16:15-17:30

On November 13, the Politics and IR Research Seminar will be a little different. As part of marking UK Parliament Week, we have invited former Ulster Unionist MP and MLA member Danny Kinahan to share his views and insight on the thorny problems of Northern Ireland and Brexit.

In accepting the invitation, Danny said: "It makes obvious sense to discuss Northern Ireland and Brexit now. That means explaining our electoral system and how we got to where we are - and how we manage our way through this quagmire."

Danny will present his thoughts and will be happy to take questions from staff and students alike. The event will start at 4.15 and conclude by 5.30pm. It is open to all students and staff.

EVENT: Getting To Know the United Nations

Palmer 104, November 7th, 12:00-14:00

Many people think of the United Nations (UN) as a large, slow and expensive bureaucratic institution that is wracked by controversy and failures. But very few people really understand what it is, what it does, how it works and where it has been successful. In this event, we invite you to get to know this dynamic organisation a little better.

The event will feature a panel of experts from the University of Reading's UN and Global Order Programme (UNGOP), and will include an exhibition of photographs from their research projects showcasing and explaining different aspects of the UN. Photographs will depict a wide range of UN topics, from negotiations in the Security Council to peacekeeping operations in conflict zones.

Situating Agency, Embodied Practices and Norm Implementation in Peacekeeping Training

An article by Dr Georgina Holmes has been published early online in International Peacekeeping. Theoretically the article explores issues around agency, embodied practices and norm implementation in peacekeeping training, and offers a new perspective on how UN peacekeeping norms, which are meant to govern the behaviour of peacekeepers, become routinized into the labouring practices that peacekeepers are expected to perform once deployed. Empirically, the article considers whether the pre-deployment training provided to Rwandan female military peacekeepers equips them for working in complex, multidimensional peacekeeping operations such as UNAIMID and UNMISS. The research draws on substantial field research conducted in Rwanda in 2014-2015.

Senior Leadership seminar

Dr Sarah von Billerbeck ran a seminar at the Embassy of Sweden in London on 17 September 2018 with representatives of several major international organizations to share findings of a project, Senior Leadership Performance Management in International Organizations. A public version of the report from the project, which was generously funded by the Folke Bernadotte Academy and conducted within the UN and Global Order Programme, will be finalized soon.


Adam Humphreys, Rob Jubb and Mark Shanahan were all promoted to the title of Associate Professor from August 1st 2018.

Dr Halikiopoulou on the rise of right wing populism

Dr Halikiopoulou's new JCMS Annual Review article is out and available on early view. Focusing on support for right-wing populist parties, she reviews the results of electoral contests that took place in 2017 in France, Norway, Bulgaria, the UK, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. She argues that right-wing populism is neither a new nor a uniform phenomenon. What is new is the extent to which these parties are now able to permeate mainstream ground.

The article may be accessed online here:

She also had an article on "Brexit and the rise of right-wing populism in Europe: why and how nationalism matters" on H-Nationalism in June:…/brexit-and-rise-right-wing-pop…

Mark Shanahan Talks Trump VISIT on BBC

Mark S on BBCAssociate Professor Mark Shanahan gave expert coverage of President Trump's long-delayed UK visit on BBC news on July 12th.  Healso recorded a piece for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's flagship tv news programme, 'The National' and was also interviewed by the other Canadian network, CTV.  In addition, he was interviewed pre-trip and also on Friday July 13 about the Trump visit on the radio by BBC Berkshire.

More about his BBC coverage here:


Graduates throwing their hatsOn July 5th we had a drinks reception to celebrate our graduates and present prizes to students who had particularly excelled over their time with us. For the full list of winners go to our Graduation 2018 page.

The Social Sciences in Times of Brexit

Dr Martin Binder gave a talk at a conference on 'The Social Sciences in Times of Brexit' at University of Oxford (June 14-15, 2018) organised by the WZB Berlin Social Science Research Centre, Nuffield College, and the European Studies Centre. Martin's talk examined current challenges to the Western-centred international order with a special focus on the behaviour of rising powers (such as the BRICS and IBSA states) in international organisations.

More information here:…/WZB%20Alumni%20Conference%20Public%20P…


Dr Martin Binder has co-organized an international workshop on the UN Security Council and legitimacy on 5 June 2018 at the European University Institute in Florence. Martin has presented a paper that looks at the potential link between legitimacy and practical support for international bodies such as the UN Security Council (co-authored with Monika Heupel, University of Bamberg).

Harvard Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs conference

Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou will be in Talloires this weekend (June 15th-June 17th) speaking at the Harvard Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs conference on Populism and the Future of Democracy. The agenda is impressive and promises a very interesting event. Daphne's talk will be on the role of the EU as both a cause of, and potential solution to, the rise of the populist right in Europe.

More details can be found here:

universities challenged?

Political Voices: a Date for the Diary - POSTPONED

SamGyimahMPNew Universities Minister Sam Gyimah becomes our latest 'Political Voice'.  As soon as we have a new date for this event it will be posted here, so keep checking back!

the un and global order


Please join us for the launch of the UN and Global Order Programme, and one-day conference looking at how research can support and strengthen the United Nations.



  • Thursday 26th April 2018
  • 9:15am - 4:30pm (registration at 8:45am)
  • University of Reading, London Road Campus, L022 G01

Admission free, booking essential - to book, please email

For more details view our flyer.

Leverhulme News

Christina Hellmich has been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship grant to work on the project, 'Silenced suffering: the experience of miscarriage in high-achieving women in the UK'.

Catriona McKinnon has been awarded a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship to work with Stephen Gardiner at the University of Washington on project exploring how to govern solar radiation management (a form of geoengineering) in the interests of future people.

Mrs Mary Robinson has agreed to be the Senior Advisor for the Centre for Climate and Justice.  

RUSU Excellence Award Nominations 2018

We are pleased to announce that the following individuals have all been nominated for the RUSU Excellence Awards 2018!

From the Economics Department:

  • Dr Steven Bosworth
  • Dr Sarah Jewell
  • Dr Mark Guzman
  • Dr Marina Della Giusta

From the Politics and International Relations Department:

  • Dr Martin Binder
  • Dr Dawn Clarke
  • Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou
  • Dr Mark Shanahan.

Delphi economic forum

Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou gave a talk on populism at the Delphi Economic Forum earlier this month. More information on the event can be found here.

 Delphi Economic ForumDelphi Economic ForumDelphi Economic Forum





daphne halikiopoulou - new blog

'Why is Greece the only crisis-ridden country in Southern Europe with a successful extreme right party?' The latest blog post by Daphne Halikiopoulou for the Democratic Audit, based on her co-authored article with Sofia Vasilopoulou recently published in Government and Opposition.

2018 UoR prosperity and resillience award

Congratulations to Dr Tim Vlandas, from the Politics and International Relations Research Division, on winning the 2018 University of Reading Prosperity and Resilience Output Prize for his article "Grey Power and the Economy: Ageing and Inflation Across Developed Economies", published in Comparative Political Studies.

This is a significant coup for Tim in a very competitive competition. Eight Research Divisions nominated outputs for the prize, which were reviewed by a group of Research Division Leaders. As in previous years, the quality of the publications submitted was very high across the board, and the submissions reflected the methodological and thematic breadth of research across the theme.

The Prosperity and Resilience Output Prize will be awarded at a ceremony during the annual meeting of the University Court, together with the output prizes for the other themes.

parliamentary studies trip to Westminster

Parliament 1On Wednesday 14th March students on the Parliamentary Studies module visited the Houses of Parliament for our annual outing to Westminster. It turned out to be an historic day!

 Several students were present for debate following the Prime Minister's Statement on the response to the attempted murder of the Skirpals in Salisbury, with others witnessing first-hand the media's coverage. Students were also present for the parallel Parliament 2debate in the House of Lords on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, as well as Sajid Javid's House of Commons statement on integrated communities.

In addition, two extremely open talks were given by Lord Cashman (former MEP and co-founder of Stonewall), and Lucy Powell (MP for Manchester, and Ed Miliband's chief of staff for his leadership campaign). Here the opportunity was provided for a wide range of questions to be put forward.  The day concluded in the Select Committee on Human RiParliament 3Parliament 4ghts, chaired by Harriet Harman - the theme was 'attitudes to enforcement' with evidence provided from the legal profession, and questions from Lord Woolf and Baroness Lawrence, amongst others.

sarah von billerbeck elected

Dr Sarah von Billerbeck was elected a member of the Research Working Groups of the Folke Bernadotte Academy, the Swedish government agency for peace, security, and development. The five groups are composed of around 120 scholars from around the world, who are experts in peace operations; conflict prevention; women, peace, and security; rule of law; and security sector reform.

More details can be found here.

delphi economic forum

Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou will be travelling to Delphi in early March to give a talk at the Delphi Economic Forum on Populism and values.

challenging contemporary wisdom

Challenging1On 13 December 2017 the Ways of War Centre hosted the first of a series of seminars designed to challenge contemporary conventional wisdom on key defence and security issues. Recognising the role of critical thinking to the generation of 'intellectual advantage', each seminar will match a leading practitioner with an academic partner to explore the 'ambiguity paradox' caused by an increasingly complex operating environment and the corresponding need for insightful thinking and decision making.

The DecembChallenging2er seminar focused on Command and Control, asking the question 'is it fit for purpose in the 21st Century'? Contrarian-in-Chief Lieutenant General Sir David Capewell and Capt Dr David Reindorp RN explored five related focus questions with an audience from the MOD, armed services, academia and industry. Consensus suggested that it (C2) was not fit for purpose and required rethinking in a variety of areas including the UK's national security decision making apparatus, and the relationship between politicians, commanders, those under command and the society they all serve.

The seminar concluded that while MOD has got better at closing the gap between tomorrow's wars and yesterday's equipment, it now needs to do likewise with concepts. Many of which remain rooted in the past and show little sign of attracting the rapid, agile development pathways now seen in Defence acquisition.

The next seminar takes place on April 25th and will challenge the UK's defence acquisition model and strategy. Air Chief Marshal Sir Brian Burridge (ex-Vice President Finmeccanica) will act as Contrarian-in-Chief. For further details or to register interest please contact Dr David Reindorp

engaging with practitioners

Redwood1Redwood2What do Andrea Leadsom, Matt Rodda and now, John Redwood have in common? All three MPs have taken part in Parliamentary Studies seminars this term. This module is built around direct engagement with Parliamentarians and Parliamentary staff. Next up for this group? A day in Westminster including a seminar on LGBT+ issues with Lord Michael Cashman.

political quarterly blog

Please click here to read Daphne Halikiopoulou's latest blog published in the Political Quarterly.

in the end, trump loves to be loved

MSSkyNewsJan2018While the Politics & IR department didn't get to go to Davos this year (or any year for that matter), Mark Shanahan did get to preview President Trump's speech for Sky News, questioning how closely he'd stick to the script, and whether this would be another example of the 'Janus Presidency': hard-edged rhetoric at home, and a much softer message abroad.

"In the end," Shanahan commented, "Trump loves to be loved."

Reading Centre for Climate and Justice to help protect vulnerable communities

A new research centre that will support communities threatened by climate change was launched at the University of Reading on Thursday 18th January 2018 by former Irish President and UN human rights high commissioner Mary Robinson.

The Reading CentrClimateJusticePhoto1e for Climate Justice will be dedicated to putting justice at the heart of understanding the problems caused by climate change, and finding solutions to protect those most vulnerable to them. It seeks to deploy expertise at the University to identify gaps in knowledge, and emerging areas, that would benefit from a justice-focused approach.


More information available from

department visit

ALeadsom1Students staged their own 'Second Referendum on Brexit' as the Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House of Commons and leading light of the Leave Campaign joined Politics and IR students for a Parliamentary Studies class at the University of Reading this morning. Spending 50 minutes with the students, she was the consummate government representative: well-briefed, on message and with enough insight to tantalise on such issues as Brexit and Cabinet reshuffles, if not to provide much new to the evidence pot. Questions from the floor ranged from the relationship with the CommonAL1wealth to farming policy post-Brexit, to the role of the media to an insider's view on reshuffles. The only area where she wouldn't be drawn was what a Leadsom premiership might have looked like had she won the Conservative Party Leadership in 2016. With her minders eager to move on, she was whisked away on cue at 12.30. Time waits for no woman with Cabinet Collective Responsibility! And as for that Second Referendum...? No clear winner.

dr sarah von billerbeck - esrc and fba grant awards

Sarah and Oisín Tansey (King's College London) were recently awarded an ESRC Standard Grant to support a three-year project entitled 'Enabling Authoritarianism? United Nations Peacebuilding and Authoritarian Rule.' The project, due to start in June 2018, will examine the ways in which UN peace operations might contribute to the rise or consolidation of authoritarian forms of governance in post-conflict countries.

Also, Sarah, who is co-Director of the newly established UN and Global Order Programme (UNGOP) at the University of Reading with Professor Rosa Freedman in the School of Law, was awarded a small grant to undertake a 7-month project on performance management in international organizations by the Folke Bernadotte Academy in Sweden.

the end of a dream...

The End of a Dream and the Risk of Global Chaos

Please join us for the following event, hosted by the UN and Global Order Programme (UNGOP) at the University of Reading:

A book presentation and discussion by Michael von der Schulenburg:

The End of a Dream and the Risk of Global Chaos.  Will strong nation-states and a stronger United Nations guarantee a new global order?

1 February 2018, 4pm, Palmer Building 107

Michael von der Schulenburg worked for 34 years for the United Nations, and shortly for the OSCE, including as Assistant Secretary-General, in many of the world's trouble spots such as Haiti, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, the Balkans, Somalia, Sierra Leone, and in the Sahel. He participated in a number of strategic reviews of UN missions and review processes on UN reforms. He has written extensively on sensitive political issues and the role of UN peace missions. His most recent publication is On Building Peace - Rescuing the Nation State and Saving the United Nations, published in 2017 by Amsterdam University Press.  Please click here for further information.

Dr Daphne halikiopoulou and dr tim vlandas - new article

Daphne and Tim's article 'Does unemployment matter? Economic insecurity, labour market policies and the far right vote in Europe' has been accepted for publication and is forthcoming in European Political Science (EPS) as a part of a symposium on the Populist Radical Right edited by Jens Rydgren and Pontus Odmalm.

graduation december 2017

Many congratulations to all of our BSc and MA students who graduated this December! Good luck with whatever the future holds for you - we wish you every success! Special congratulations go to our Department Prizewinners: Niklas Masuhr - Best Dissertation and Best Overall PGT student, Jacob Thomas-Llewellyn - Best Dissertation.

PolGrad(1)PolGrad2Delphi Economic ForumPolGrad3

cardiff senedd

Cardiff5On Wednesday December 6, 14 Politics & IR students, mostly from our Parliamentary Studies modules traveled to Cardiff to see devolved government in action. This was the department's third visit to the Welsh Assembly and again, the welcome was warm, the visit was informative and the debate was occasionally feisty.



Cardiff1Cardiff2Cardiff3Starting the morning in the Old Debating Chamber in Ty Hywel, the Assembly's office building beside the Senedd, the group met leader of the Welsh Conservatives (the opposition in Wales) Andrew RT Davies, and senior Labour AM Mick Antoniw. Responding to some probing questions from the group, the pair covered everything from the impact of Brexit on Wales through Enhanced and Reserved powers to how the Assembly has evolved since it first sat 20 years ago.

Cardiff4Moving next door to the main Senedd, the group received a short but sweet tour of the award-winning building before taking in a business session of Ministers' Questions.

Next term, the group will have the chance to compare devolved government with the Mother of Parliaments as they head for a Parliamentary Day in Westminster.

Dr daphne halikiopoulou - new articles

Daphne's article with Sofia Vasilopoulou 'Breaching the Social Contract: Crises of Democratic Representation and Patterns of Extreme Right Party Support' will be published in print in Government and Opposition's next print issue this coming January. Government and Opposition, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 26-50.


'The Paradox of Nationalism: The common denominator of radical right and radical left Euroscepticism', originally published in the European Journal of Political Research (EJPR) in 2012, has just been included in an EJPR virtual special issue on Populism. For info click here

dr georgina holmes - research paper

Dr Georgina Holmes presented a research paper on the pre-deployment training experience of Ghanaian tactical-level military peacekeepers at a two-day workshop on Preventing Sexual Exploitation & Abuse in Humanitarian Settings, hosted by the LSE Centre for Women, Peace & Security, on 30th November - 1st December 2017. The workshop brought together academics, policymakers and practitioners to discuss new responses and share good practice.

european trade union institute monthly forum

On Thursday, December 14th, Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou and Dr Tim Vlandas will be in Brussels, discussing the electoral success of far right parties in Europe at the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) Monthly Forum.

Click here for info

dr daphne halikipoulou - new article

Daphne's article 'Breaching the Social Contract: Crises of Democratic Representation and Patterns of Extreme Right Party Support' has been included in Government and Opposition's special collection of free articles across the subject of populism. It can be accessed for free here

campbell talks campbell

Alastair5The writer and broadcaster Alastair Campbell spent more than four hours in the department talking to students, staff and our local community on Monday, as he delivered the Peter Campbell Memorial Lecture, named in honour of the first Head of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading.

Click here for Mark Shanahan's report.

Inspirations: Jess Phillips MP at the University of Reading (16th November 2017)

By Dr Madeleine Davies (Department of English Literature)

Jess PhillipJessP1s MP gave a talk at the University of Reading on 16th November and reminded everyone present of the need to fight for social justice, fairness, and equality. The event was very well attended and students, colleagues and members of the local community listened carefully as the MP explained her beliefs and her work.  Click here for Madeline's full report.

consent and deception

Dr Rob Jubb has published a discussion note entitled 'Consent and Deception' in the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy. It is now available here.

senss pathway leads

The main 2018 ESRC SeNSS PhD studentship competition is now open. The attached 'Information for UoR staff' sheet sets out broad competition details for supervisors and I'd be grateful if you could now disseminate this information by forwarding to all relevant staff in your pathway area.

Key deadlines to note are:

15 January 2018 - Deadline for candidates to submit their SeNSS applications by email to (UoR Graduate School) for Reading's institutional shortlisting process.

21 January 2018 - Deadline for candidates to apply for admission - however earlier applications are strongly encouraged.

1 February 2018 - shortlisted candidates + reserves will be invited to upload final applications to FluidReview.

April 2018 - decisions

Student-facing advertising is live at (Reading) and (overall consortium).

prof dominik Zaum - new article

Dominik Zaum's most recent article, "International Transitional Administrations and the Politics of Authority Building" has been published in the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding.

dr Geoff Sloan - new book

Geoff's new book 'Geopolitics, GeoffSloanBook2017Geography and Strategic History' has now been published by Routledge.  It also has been awarded the Stratfor Prize for the best book devoted to geopolitical issues in 2017.

transatlantic social dialogue

Dr Tim Vlandas was invited to give a talk on the Political Economy of far right party support at the 2017 Transatlantic Social Dialogue in New York. The event, which took place on the 15th of September, was hosted by the Worker institute (Cornell University). The audience included American and European academics as well as trade union leaders.

folke bernadotte academy workshop

Dr Sarah von Billerbeck attended a specialized workshop on UN peacekeeping operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, hosted by the Folke Bernadotte Academy (Sweden), on 7-8 October. The workshop saw a small group of scholars from around the world studying a variety of aspects of peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction come together for two days of academic presentations; Prof Rosa Freedman from the School of Law was also present. Some stayed on an extra day for policy-oriented presentations at the headquarters of the African Union.

APG Richard E Neustadt Book prize

Sputnik2017Congratulations to Dr. Mark Shanahan who is the 2017 winner of the APG Richard E Neustadt Book prize for his monograph 'Eisenhower at the Dawn of the Space Age' published by Lexington Books. The prize is awarded annually by the American Politics Group of the PSA to the best book in the field of US government and politics (including political history and foreign policy) published in the calendar year 2016, and authored by an academic permanently employed at a UK university. Mark will receive his award at the British Library in November.

Special 30% OFF discount offer!*

To get discount, use code LEX30AUTH17 when ordering

*May not be combined with other offers and discounts, valid until 3/1/2018

HEA Award

Congratulations to Dr.Mark Shanahan and Dr. Simonetta Longhi who have both been awarded the Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy of the UK.

Dr Patrick Tomlin - paper accepted

Patrick Tomlin recently had a paper accepted at the leading journal Philosophy & Public Affairs. The paper, titled 'On Limited Aggregation', concerns how we should trade off harms of different sizes to different people. For example, how should we trade off claims against death against claims against paralysis, or claims against mild headaches? Dr Tomlin shows a series of problems with a popular view, 'Limited Aggregation'. This is of philosophical interest, but also has relevance to many areas of public policy, including healthcare spending.

Dr Corinne Heaven publication

Dr Heaven has had a chapter published in an edited volume: The chapter is entitled "A Visible College: The Community of Fact-Finding Practice", and is part of the volume "Commissions of Inquiry: Problems and Prospects", edited by Christian Henderson.

Dr Sarah von Billerbeck has co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding (vol. 11, issue 3, 2017).

It has been published by Taylor & Francis Online and is entitled 'Legitimacy in Conflict' with Birte Julia Gippert. It examines a variety of aspects of legitimacy in situations of conflict and post-conflict peacebuilding, and Sarah also contributed an article entitled 'UN Peace Operations and Conflicting Legitimacies.

Dr Georgina Holmes' new article has been published by Taylor & Francis Online

2017, 'The Commonwealth, Gender and Peacekeeping', The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Vol 106 Issue 3, pp. 1-17

Please go to to read abuot Dr Holmes' new article.

2017 NSS Results

The Departm92% satisfaction with teaching in politics and international relations - National Student Survey 2017ent are delighted to announce 92% satisfaction with teaching in the 2017 NSS results.

Politics & IR improved its scores in all our key performance areas this year - a testament to the work all our staff have put in to improve student engagement and enhance their learning experience here.


Class of 2017

Congratulations to all of our students who graduated on 6th July 2017 - we are so proud of your achievements and are sure you will go on to achieve many more great things!

Further congratulations to our 2017 Prizewinning students (l-r) Dr Mark Shanahan, Izzy Coleman-Wood - Matthew Cox PolAndIRPrizewinners2017Award, Felix Johnston-Brunn - Matthew Cox Award, Holly Gibbs - Department Prize for Outstanding Contribution to the Department, Freddy Farias-Arias - Department Prize for Outstanding Contribution to the Department, Lena-Katharina Gerdes - Peter Campbell Prize for Overall Excellence - with highest overall average, Dr Jonathan Golub, Camille Gosset - Department Prize for Outstanding Contribution to the Department and Will Cole - Daniel James Award for all round performance.

Dr Adam Humphreys' latest book has been published by Oxford University Press

Dr Adam Humphreys' new book, The Anarchical Society at 40: CAH book 40ontemporary Challenges and Prospects, has just been published by Oxford University Press.

The book re-examines Hedley Bull's classic text The Anarchical Society, forty years after it was first published in 1977.

Mr Speaker and the 'Reading Revelation'

On 3 February 2017, the Department welcomed the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP for what proved to be a very revealing 'Political Voices' visit. Meeting first with students and then in an open event attended by more than 200 people, the Speaker was candid and open in his views - so much so that his 'revelation' that he voted for the UK to remain became national news as he was accused of breaking the parliamentary convention on political neutrality. The media furore flared for several days - although two months on, Mr Bercow remains happily ensconced in Speaker's House.

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