Department of International Relations


International Relations research at Sussex has a long standing international reputation, reflecting the critical and diverse perspectives of its research staff and students.

We offer a vibrant and productive environment in which to conduct and present research, with a high level of community interaction at each stage.

We are committed to critical and interdisciplinary perspectives, encouraging intellectual interaction with other research groups in the University and beyond.  

We are developing new and innovative work on globalisation, global civil society and social change, global environmental change and other emerging issues in the field.

We've had considerable successful in gaining external funding for research projects dealing with many of these cutting-edge areas of International Relations.

The Department is also an institutuional member of Chatham House - the UK's largest international affairs think-tank, with research programmes dedicated to Energy, Environment and Development; International Economics; and Regional and Security Studies.

The department of International Relations at Sussex offers wide opportunities to pursue advanced research leading toward MPhil degrees. See our postgraduate study section for further information.


Research themes

War, Violence and Security

The study of war and security has a long pedigree at Sussex and has been a growing area of the department.

Current work in this area covers war and political violence, broader health and environmental security issues, peace processes, the politics of Europe, Russia and the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and South Asia, and is informed by distinctive theoretical positions.

The group organises a New Security Challenges Speaker Series, an interdisciplinary Sussex Rights and Justice Research Centre with Anthropology and Law colleagues, fortnightly research seminars, annual symposia and encourages collaborative research.

Global Political Economy

Global Political Economy (GPE) is one of the most vibrant areas of International Relations and brings the study of economic processes into International Relations.

It also draws on scholarship in sociology, human geography, social psychology and other socials sciences. GPE is a multidisciplinary approach to problems of world order and change.

We have an international reputation as a leading centre of research and study in GPE and have renowned GPE specialists in the history and theory of international political economy, problems of global finance, transnational socio-economic relations and the environment.

We are home to the Centre of Global Political Economy (CGPE), a community of students and scholars of contemporary political-economic transformations. The Centre includes members from International Relations, Human Geography, IDS and Anthropology.

A former member of this cluster, Professor Kees van der Pijl, was awarded The Deutscher Memorial Prize (2008) for his book, Nomads, Empires, States

Critical and Historical International Relations Theory

During the 1960s, International Relations at Sussex was headed by Martin Wight - perhaps the most famous of all British international theorists.

Research in the Department today continues and extends Wight's philosophical and historical orientations, while adding a distinctive critical edge too. Current work in this area covers themes including:

  • the historical and philosophical critique of liberal international perspectives
  • the relevance of continental philosophy and social theory for international thought, including the thought of Karl Marx, Max Weber, Martin Heidegger, Carl Schmitt and Michel Foucault
  • culture, religion, subjectivity and gender as dimensions of international power
  • explorations in the rapidly expanding genres of World History and Civilisational Encounters
  • the development of new historical materialist and historical sociological approaches for international studies.

Two members of this research cluster, Professor Justin Rosenberg and Dr. Benno Teschke, have been awarded The Deutscher Memorial Prize for their books, The Empire of Civil Society (1994) and The Myth of 1648 (2003), respectively.

The national forum for that field (the BISA Working Group on Historical Sociology and IR) is currently co-convened from within the Department by Dr. Kamran Matin, and more of the papers contributed to its Workshops have come from Sussex than from any other institution.

Faculty members from the Centre for Advanced International Theory encourage innovative theoretical research in International Relations from within and outside the discipline.

Research centres

Our faculty are also involved in the The Sussex Rights and Justice Research Centre