Key Facts

Subject area: Politics and International Relations
Programme: PhD / MPhil
Duration: PhD – 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time
MPhil – 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Starting Date: Any time of the year
Entry Requirements: See here
International entry requirements We accept a range of qualifications from other institutions.
Standard English Language requirements apply. Details here.

The Research Centre for the Study of Politics, International Relations and Environment ()  is an excellent base for pursuing doctoral research, with a long record of successful PhD students who have gone on to careers in research in academia and in other fields. We welcome postgraduate research students from around the world as well as the UK and provide supervision, support and facilities to enable them to achieve their full potential in a stimulating and lively environment.

We have a strong community of postgraduate research students. Currently we have 37 students studying for PhDs in Politics and International Relations. What is more, the interdisciplinary nature of the Research Institute for Social Sciences, of which RC4SPIRE is a part, provides excellent opportunities for networking both with other postgraduates and with the academic staff at Keele, thereby enabling postgraduate researchers to participate fully in all aspects of the research process. We are able to offer a high standard of facilities to postgraduates including well equipped office space, postgraduate research training and seminars, an annual postgraduate conference, social events and a weekly “reflections” group where postgraduate issues can be explored in an informal atmosphere.

An advantage of studying within SPIRE is that PhD candidates whose interests in politics or international relations intertwine with philosophical concerns, can receive supervision for a thesis covering some or all of these academic areas.

Academic staff in RC4SPIRE have research expertise in a large range of areas of politics, policy, and international relations, and provide supervision to PhD students working on various topics within these areas. Our PhD students work with a principal supervisor who is a specialist in their research area. Principal supervisors provide guidance and advice to help students develop their ideas and focus their research questions, to execute high quality research and to structure and write up their thesis. Students and principal supervisors meet regularly to discuss and review progress. As well as having a principal supervisor, each student has a secondary supervisor who is available to offer further support. In addition to meeting regularly with their supervisors, students are required to pass formal progressions stages after 10 months and after 30 months of full time study.

The following staff are currently available to supervise research degrees:


Areas of expertise

Christopher Bailey

US politics, especially environmental politics and policy and foreign policy.

Elisabeth Carter

Comparative European politics, especially political parties and party systems, elections, electoral institutions and electoral behaviour; Right-wing extremism.

Philip Catney

British politics; Public policy theory; Public management; Environmental policy; Urban regeneration; Local government; Political economy.

Andy Dobson

Environmental political theory, including the relationship between ecologism and other ideologies and between sustainability and other political-social objectives such as democracy, justice and freedom.

Brian Doherty

Social and political movements, especially environmental ones; Direct action; Radical protest.

Tim Doyle

Politics and international relations of the environment; Politics and international relations of the Indian Ocean region; Social and political movements; Political economy of the environment.

Kyril Drezov

Communism and Post-Communism; Contemporary politics of Eastern, Central and South Eastern Europe; Balkan politics and international relations.

Bülent Gökay

Contemporary Turkish political history; Decline and disintegration of the state socialist systems of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union; Oil politics and energy security in Eurasia; Global political economy - decline of the West, 'World Systems' perspective

Jon Herbert

US politics, especially the presidency, public policy, and foreign policy.

Robert Ladrech

European politics; European integration; Political parties; Social democratic ideology and practice; French politics.

Lorna Lloyd

Diplomacy, including diplomatic/international law; Political aspects of the United Nations, League of Nations, Permanent Court of International Justice / International Court of Justice, and Commonwealth; British foreign policy since the first world war, including transformation from empire to Commonwealth.

Luis Lobo-Guerrero

Post-structuralist International Relations theory; Risk, security, and liberal governance; Biopolitics of security; Insurance, liberalism, and security.


Kurt Richard Luther

Comparative politics, especially political parties and party systems; Right-wing radical parties; Politics of deeply divided societies; Federalism; Politics of the German-speaking states and of Europe more generally.


Sherilyn MacGregor

Environmental politics, policy and theory; IR of environment, especially around climate justice and sustainable development issues; Gender/feminism; Social justice/policy; Citizenship; Political action/social movements.

Monica Mookherjee

Contemporary political philosophy, particularly feminism, multiculturalism, toleration, the politics of recognition, democratic theory, global justice, human rights and responsibilities, reconciliation and restorative justice; Liberal
nationalism; Value pluralism.

Jonathan Parker

US politics, especially federalism and public policy (in particular, education policy).

Helen Parr

British politics; British foreign policy; International history; Diplomacy; Cold War; European integration and Britain and Europe.

Steve Quilley

Historical sociology, especially Norbert Elias; Energy and civilization; Resilience and ecological economics; Urban regeneration.

Barry Ryan

Critical security studies; Conflict; State-building; Policing; Post-positivist IR theory; The Balkans.

David Scrivener

International Relations of the environment; Arms control and proliferation; the Arctic and Antarctica; Soviet politics including Soviet foreign and defence policy.

Naveed Sheikh

Islamic politics; Middle East Politics and international relations; Terrorism/radicalism as it pertains to the Muslim world; Security in South Asia.

John Vogler

Global commons; International environmental cooperation, especially climate change and EU external policy and actorness.

Matthew Wyman

Soviet and post-Soviet politics, especially Russian politics; Political attitudes and behaviour; Politics teaching, political education, and citizenship education.

While studying for their PhD, students are required to undertake a number of research training courses. Such training is very important and very useful in and of itself. In addition, some professional bodies and funding agencies require such training to be completed.

Employers also place great value on postgraduate students who have received such training. Students are therefore required to gain 60 credits by taking research training modules, with at least 40 of these gained in the first full time year of study. The training includes the development of both generic and specialist research skills.

For more information on research training see the Social Science Postgraduate Research Handbook 2015-16.

world map SPIRE is a thoroughly international school, and is particularly welcoming to international students, as well as providing plenty of opportunities for home students to broaden their horizons.

We have staff with educational backgrounds in a wide variety of countries, such as Columbia, Canada, Bulgaria, Italy, Austria, Romania, and Turkey, who present their research all around the world. Students have the opportunity to hear visiting lecturers from various different countries, arranged through our ERASMUS partnerships.

International students will join established international communities at Keele, and will find plenty of support mechanisms in place to help them make the transition to study in the UK (see the ‘International Applicants’ button above).

Contact Details

Administrator Helen Farrell
Tel : (+44) 01782 733641
E-Mail :