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About us

The Department

The Department of Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London was founded in August 2004, following strategic investment by the College. It quickly expanded and is now an established centre of teaching and research excellence in the UK. We are a vibrant department with a diverse and very active student body, and are located in Royal Holloway's prestigious Founder's Building. We warmly invite you to join us.

We offer a range of undergraduate degrees, including Joint Honours programmes with Economics, Geography, History, and Philosophy, and now also offer a Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) degree.  At Masters level we offer a range of programmes including International Relations, Media, Power, and Public Affairs, Transnational Security Studies and Geopolitics and Security (co-taught with the Department of Geography). The Department has a strong and growing MPhil/PhD programme, and our recent research students have gone on to exciting and successful careers, including research and lecturing positions at Sussex, Edinburgh, Sydney, and the London School of Economics. The Department has ESRC recognition through its participation in the Southeast Doctoral Training Centre, and offers ESRC and other scholarships to highly qualified research students.

Our research explores cutting-edge areas of the discipline, and is supported through five research units: the Centre for European Politics, the Centre for Global and Transnational Politics, the New Political Communication Unit, the Youth Politics Unit, and the Contemporary Political Theory Research Group.

In both our teaching and research, the Department focuses on political life at the global, the national and the local levels, and the way these interact to shape society, culture and economics. Our different approaches complement and enrich one another, and this is reflected in the way in which our degree programmes are designed and taught. The research and teaching offered is of the highest quality.

Former Heads of Department

Steven Haines (2004-2006)
Andrew Chadwick (2006-2009)
Nathan Widder (2009-2013)
Alister Miskimmon (2013-2016)


Research Excellence Framework, 2014: Department 10th for Research Intensity

The Department of Politics & International Relations has been recognised for its commitment to high quality research in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The periodic assessment exercise, the biggest in the world, is intended to review the quality of academic research being carried out in UK universities.

In terms of ‘research intensity’ (which many consider to be the most rigorous measure because it takes into account the proportion of staff from the department who are active researchers), the Times Higher Education placed the department an impressive 10th.

We are pleased to say that 72 per cent of the department’s research is judged to be world-leading (4*) and internationally-excellent (3*), placing it 18th among Politics and International Relations departments for this measure. This proportion has increased from 30 per cent at the last assessment in 2008, and reflects our successful growth from a very small department founded just 10 years ago. For 'outputs', which means the 'originality, significance and rigour' of the research submitted, the department comes out 13th for 4* and 3* quality. Moreover, more than three-quarters of the submissions made were judged to have ‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable impacts’ in terms of their reach and significance.

Head of Department, Dr Alister Miskimmon said: “The Department of Politics and International Relations has seen major developments since the last research assessment review. Since 2008 we have nearly doubled in size as well as reaching new levels of world-leading and internationally-excellent results - major increases in quality and quantity.

“In less than 10 years the department has become a solid presence in the discipline. Our researchers have produced some wonderful books and scientific articles pushing new frontiers in knowledge about politics and international relations. We fully expect our young researchers to blossom in the coming few years and make a major impact on politics and international relations. PIR submitted its entire research staff to the REF2014 and we are delighted to see that excellence across the department has been indicated in our REF2014 result. ”

The REF also confirmed that Royal Holloway as a whole sits within the top 25% of universities in the UK for research which is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent.’


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