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Our research sits at the intersection of the study of political theory, international relations, and comparative politics.

It is articulated around an ambitious vision focused on field-defining arguments that address the pressing problems of justice, international order and conflict, and democracy.

Award-winning, published in high-ranking outlets, and widely disseminated, our research shares a commitment to solving puzzles as well as promoting diversity, creativity, and interdisciplinarity.  


Research clusters

Research in our department is organised into three clusters: Applied Political Theory; International Organisations, Conflict and Cooperation; and Democracy and Participation.

Applied Political Theory

The Applied Political Theory cluster examines pressing questions related to legitimacy, justice, political protest and inequality.

Research in this cluster includes work on equality and risk, on the practice of violent protest, on the reconstruction of the early modern roots of modern constitutionalism, and on political discourse in divided societies. Members of the cluster collaborate with Philosophy in the interdisciplinary centre Reading Ethics and Political Philosophy (REAPP).

Recent publications by members of the cluster have appeared in the British Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Political Studies, Political Studies Review, and Res Publica.

International Organisations, Conflict and Cooperation

The International Organisations, Conflict and Cooperation cluster focuses on the operation and impact of international institutions and examines war and other forms of collective violence.

Research in the cluster includes work on the United Nations and other international organisations, international borders, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, proxy warfare and strategy.

Recent publications by members of the cluster have appeared in the British Journal of Political Science, European Journal of International Relations, Conflict Management and Peace Science, International Studies Quarterly, Contemporary Security Policy, Review of International Studies, Nonproliferation Review, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, Journal of Global Security Studies, and Civil Wars.

Democracy and Participation

The Democracy and Participation cluster researches voting behaviour, party politics, and comparative political economy to understand various contemporary challenges to electoral democracy.

Members of the cluster work on far-right parties, the interplay between public opinion, voting and the welfare state, as well as on interest groups in multi-level governance.

Recent publications by members of the cluster have appeared in the European Journal of Political Research, West European Politics, Party Politics, Journal of European Public Policy, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, European Political Science Review, Electoral Studies, Journal of European Integration, Governance, and European Sociological Review.

Research that attracts prestigious funding

Our research has attracted major competitive grants such as the Liberal Way of War Major Research Programme, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

In addition, many members of the Department have won prestigious personal funded fellowships, for example:

  • Dr Sarah von Billerbeck's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Future Research Leaders funded project on "Self-Legitimation by International Organizations"
  • Professor Dominik Zaum's ESRC Public Sector Placement Fellowship in the UK Stabilisation Unit.


Read more about our past funding and grants

Speakers and seminars

Leading researchers from within the University, as well as visiting academics and practitioners, regularly present at seminars held in our Department in the spring and autumn terms.

Recent visiting speakers include:

  • John Bercow (Conservative MP, Speaker of the House of Commons)
  • Douglas Carswell (politician)
  • Sir Vince Cable (former Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister)
  • Matthew Barzun (United States Ambassador to UK)
  • Stella Creasy (Labour MP)
  • Eddie Izzard (stand-up comedian, actor and writer)
  • Daniel Hannan (Conservative MEP)
  • Dame Margaret Hodge (Labour MP)
  • Paul Flynn (Labour MP)
  • Tim Yeo (politician)
  • Lord Kerslake (former head of the Civil Service)
  • Giorgio La Malfa (former Italian Minister).

Research impact

Our research shapes policy, raises public awareness and informs political debate. Many of our academics advise governments and international organisations.

97% of our research outputs are rated ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, meaning that the University of Reading is 6th highest in the UK for research outputs (Times Higher Education analysis of the latest Research Excellence Framework 2021 – Politics and International Studies, when scoring by GPA Output).

Read more about our research impact

Research centres

Our Department works with a number of research centres. We collaborate on world-leading research with academics from a range of disciplines across the University, as well as international organisations such as the UN.

Read more about our research centres


PhD study

Join our large, vibrant doctoral community, and work with world experts on research in comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.


Meet our experts

Our staff have exceptional knowledge in an impressive range of political topics and issues. Many of our academics are directly involved in international politics, sharing their expertise with governments and policymakers.

Joseph O Mahony

Dr Joseph O'Mahoney's story

Conquests are illegitimate. But what happens when states do it anyway?

Dr Joseph O'Mahoney

Lecturer in Politics and International Relations