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Research Excellence Framework, 2014: Department 10th in the UK 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.’

Foci for our Research: Five Centres

Five departmental research units provide strong foci for much of our research. Each brings together internationally regarded researchers and a growing community of PhD students, and seeks to build networks with other research centres in the national and international spheres.

The Centre for European Politics

Led by Dr Alister Miskimmon and Dr James Sloam, the Centre for European Politics produces research in two principal areas: the study of democracy in Europe, and Europe as an actor in world politics. It has hosted a number of high-profile speakers and organised numerous research events. The CEP establishes collaborative links with academics, research institutes, and NGOs both in the UK and abroad.The CEP has particular strengths in:

  • comparative European politics
  • the theory and workings of the European Union
  • Europe’s global role
  • and European political theory and philosophy.

The Centre for Global and Transnational Politics

Led by Professor Sandra Halperin and Professor Chris Rumford, the Centre for Global and Transnational Politics also has its home at Royal Holloway. The centre focuses on two broad research areas. The first broad area of interest is in regional, transnational, and comparative politics, including: the politics of the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East, the EU, and other regions; transnational governance; global development; borders in global politics; power and identity; comparative and international public policy; national, regional and international security; cosmopolitanism; and environmental politics.

The second area of interest covers international law, conflict, and security, including: international law and institutions; the political theory of global social justice; immigration and citizenship; new security challenges; human rights; global legal and institutional networks; and military operations and international law.

The MSc International Relations, the MSc Transnational Security Studies, and the MSc Geopolitics and Security are ideal preparation for Doctoral research in the Centre for Global and Transnational Politics.

The New Political Communication Unit

Led by Professor Andrew Chadwick and Professor Ben O'Loughlin, the New Political Communication Unit is a distinctive and internationally-leading centre for the study of media and politics. Its research agenda consists of three strands:

  • Comparative and international political communication: the internet's impact on political mobilization, campaigning and identity; the complex interactions among older and newer media logics; the relationship between media, war, new security challenges and conflict; audience reception studies in the context of the proliferation of media; the dynamic between citizens’ changing uses of media and a transforming news environment; citizen journalism; technology and mobilities.
  • Communication and comparative governance: online democracy and the changing interface between representative institutions, public bureaucracies and citizens; changing organizational practices shaped by new patterns of communication.
  • Comparative and international communication policy: internet and new media governance and regulation; privacy, surveillance and security, the political economy of newer media; the digital divide and development issues.

It offers a taught Masters stream in Media, Power, and Public Affairs and PhD supervision in its areas of expertise. 

The Contemporary Political Theory Research Group

The Contemporary Political Theory Research Group was founded in October 2009, the development of political theory at postgraduate level and growth in academic staff numbers having created the critical mass it required. The group organizes its activities collectively, and its work focuses on issues around contemporary pluralism, liberalism, democratic theory and radical politics.

It brings together staff working in contemporary Continental philosophy, normative political theory, and American pragmatism, and its postgraduate members include two students on the College’s most prestigious studentship, the Reid Award. The group also has ties to the College’s Philosophy Team and the interdepartmental Humanities and Arts Research Centre. The main PIR academics involved in the group are Prof Nathan WidderDr Jonathan Seglow, and Dr Michael Bacon.

The Youth Politics Unit

Co-ordinated by Dr James Sloam, the Youth Politics Unit seeks to address three central questions regarding young people's politics: (1) ‘what does “politics” mean to young people?’; (2) ‘how and why do young people choose to participate in democracy?’; and (3) ‘how can adolescents and young adults be encouraged to participate more widely (and intensely) in various forms of civic and political engagement?’ 

Recent Publications 

Recent publications by the Department's researchers


The latest from our research centres


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