PhD Politics & International Relations

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

Linda Åhäll

Feminist International Relations; Critical security studies; Poststructuralism; The politics of emotion; Popular culture and world politics.

Christopher Bailey

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

Marit Böker

Political theory, especially democratic theory, environmental theory, and critical theory; Issues around democracy, sustainability, and environmental governance.

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.

Brian Doherty

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

Kyril Drezov

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

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; The politics of climate change.

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.

Moran Mandelbaum

International Relations theory; Gender; Critical security studies; Nationalism; Emotions and affect; Israel/Palestine.

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

Twentieth century British political history; International history; Cold War; Britain and European integration; War, society and culture in Britain.

Rebecca Richards

Development and Security, especially the state and political development; Statebuilding; Hybrid governance; Unrecognised states; African politics, especially Somalia, Somaliland, and the Horn of Africa.

Barry Ryan

Maritime Security; Critical Geopolitics/Spatial security; Theories of police power and global security; Military civilian assemblages; Security-development nexus; Police reform.

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 200 hours of research training modules. The training includes the development of both generic and specialist research skills.

Information on research training modules: Social Science MRes Handbook 2018-19

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 :