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Our scholars are internationally regarded and supported by distinctive research centres.

We are a research-intensive part of a research-intensive institution.

This means that every permanent member of academic staff carries out original, peer-reviewed research, which they incorporate into their third year undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

According to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 64% of our research output has been classified as 4*, defined as world leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour. This was the highest score achieved in the sector for this unit of assessment. Furthermore, 100% of our research impact was judged to be 4* or 3*, with 50% of our impact work graded as world leading. In Times Higher Education’s (THE) analysis and rankings of the REF 2021 results we are ranked 2nd in the UK. 

Colleagues in the department currently edit two journals: Electoral Studies and Media, War and Conflict and sit on the editorial boards of 16 journals.

The research we carry out depends in part on the research interests of individual members of staff. You can find staff members’ research interests through our staff directory.

Our research also takes place in different research centres, which bring together staff and PhD students who share research interests:

Research Centres

The Gender Institute has three primary goals: to support academic staff and student research and research collaboration in the study of genders and sexualities, to support teaching and learning of and around genders and sexualities, and to produce resources for community engagement and impact around genders and sexualities. We hope to do this through research conversations, support for seeking external funding, support for integrating genders and sexualities into modules and programs, and a detailed and up-to-date list of relevant resources. The Gender Institute is also open to other ways that we can be supportive of the work of the Royal Holloway community with regards to genders and sexualities.

The Global Politics and Development Centre (GPDC) brings together researchers who have expertise in the politics and international relations of different countries in the Global South. Recent conferences organised by the Centre have focused on the challenge of ensuring political stability in ethnically and religiously divided societies. The centre hosts an MA programme in the Politics of Development.

The Democracy and Elections Centre brings together researchers who are interested in electoral behaviour, and how elections do (or don’t) shape public policy. Researchers at the centre are particularly interested in how our political views and behaviour depend on our age (Smets, Sloam) or social backgrounds (Heath, Hanretty), and how public policies, including spending policies, are made more or less responsive to public opinion (Hackett, Hanretty, Benedetto). The Centre is home to the journal Electoral Studies.

The Centre for International Security serves as a hub for research and teaching on the study of global security issues and contested political authority within the context of transnational policy challenges. Researchers in the centre are recognised for their expertise in particular areas, ranging from nuclear weapons control (Bentley) to food security (Petrikova), to collective trauma in international political economy (Lerner) and for their knowledge of particular institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, and the EU (Stubbs, Benedetto). The Centre hosts three of the School’s MSc programmes, in International Relations, International Public Policy, and International Security.

The Centre for Islamic and West Asian Studies is the product of an exciting new collaboration between Royal Holloway, University of London and the Imam Sadr Foundation and affiliated donors. While based in the School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy at Royal Holloway, the centre provides an institutional base for Royal Holloway scholars whose research relates in some way to Islamic and West Asian studies, including researchers in the departments of History, Music, Geography, Theatre, English, and Economics, and in the School of Law and the School of Management.

The New Political Communications Unit was set up in 2007 to carry out research into new media and communications technologies, and how they shape individual behaviour and institutional responses. Researchers at the unit are interested in both how new technologies affect relationships between countries (O'Loughlin), the competition between parties (Van Spanje) , and in how they affect domestic governments and voters (Collignon). The Director of the Unit, Ben O'Loughlin, is one of three editors of the journal Media, War and Conflict.

The Department of Politics and International Relations also hosts our Jean Monnet Chair in EU budgetary politics (Benedetto).


The Contemporary Political Theory Research Group brings together political theorists from Politics and International Relations and researchers from Philosophy.

Research Activities

RHUL academics publish in internationally leading academic journals and disseminate their work via different mediums and in non-academic spaces - through popular blogs, podcasts, and other (social) media, via collaborations with artists and illustrators, and in varied short form comment and applied articles. PIR academics also provide evidence to government and other public and private bodies and organizations. Impactful academics are also engaged with, either loosely or more directly, or collaborate with others – co-producing research through contracted consultancies and commissions, and publicly funded collaborations; producing bespoke research (reports and briefings) for international and national non-governmental organizations and institutions (NGOs and INGOs); and sustaining long-term relationships with political institutions and public sphere actors

Committed to methodologically pluralistic, rigorous research across the core sub-fields of Politics and IR and Philosophy, PIPR researchers engage with essential questions: power – who has and who does not have access to power; participation and representation – who participates, how, and to what effect, and the who, what, why, how, and when of political representation; the nature of relations between individuals, groups, nations, and international and supranational actors – political, structural, economic, social, and cultural and symbolic; and political inequalities and how these can be redressed. PIR’s impactful research pays particular attention to marginalised and at-risk groups both nationally, internationally and transnationally.

Individual impactful researchers and collective impactful research projects – can be found across Politics and IR’s specialist Research Centres. Centres’ pages provide more details of current and recent impacts.  

Research Seminar Series 2022/23

The department of Politics and IR host a weekly research seminar in which recognised academics from the UK and abroad present and discuss their work. The series is run both in person and online. If you are not a member of the department but are interested in attending, please contact Dr Janina Beiser-McGrath.

We host a monthly reading group where members circulate working papers that use quantitative research methods and receive in-depth, constructive feedback. While the group is focused on papers with a quantitative methodological approach, it is substantively pluralistic and is open to any area of Politics and International Relations. We welcome all members of staff (permanent or fixed-term) as well as PhD students.  If you are interested, please contact Dr. Cassilde Schwartz.

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