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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, as well as a Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) degree. At Masters level, we offer a range of programmes including International Relations, International Public Policy; Media, Power, and Public Affairs; Politics of Developing Areas; Elections, Campaigns, and Democracy; International Security Studies, and Contemporary Political Theory. 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 South-east Network for Social Sciences (SENSS), and offers ESRC and other scholarships to highly qualified research students.

Our research explores cutting-edge areas of the discipline, and is supported through six research units: the Centre for Politics in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East; the Centre for European Politics, the Centre for International Public Policy, the Contemporary Political Theory Research Group, the Elections and Democracy Unit, and the New Political Communication Unit.

In both its 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. In both our research and teaching, we strive to achieve the highest standards of excellence.


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.

The Times Higher Education placed the department as 10th in our field in the U.K. in terms of ‘research intensity’. This is considered by many scholars to be the most rigorous measure of research excellence because it takes into account the proportion of staff from the department who are active researchers. 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, Professor Sandra Halperin said: “Since the last research assessment review in 2008, the Department of Politics and International Relations has seen major developments. We have nearly doubled in size and, with major increases in the quality and quantity of our research, have reached a new level of world-leading and internationally-excellent results.

“In less than 10 years the department has become a solid presence in the discipline. We are now entering into a period of accelerated growth as we look forward to a further expansion in size and to the roll-out of new research centres based on the expansion of existing, and the development of new, clusters of research excellence within the Department.  As our young researchers continue to produce work of internationally recognized quality in the coming years we expect that they will have a significant 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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