Student Profiles

Mahad Ainab

Mahad Ainab
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
EU engagement in the Horn of Africa Maritime Sector
Research Supervisor:
Dr Christian Bueger and Professor Gordon Cumming
Supervising school:
School of Modern Languages,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship
External Sponsor:
ESRC Studentship

Matthew Collins

Matthew Collins
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
Internet Mediated Political Mobilization in China: The Case of Environmental Politics
Research Supervisor:
Dr. Gerard Clarke and Dr. Yan Wu
Supervising school:
Department of Political and Cultural Studies,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My research will focus on how Chinese environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) use the internet to mobilize people around environmental issues. The core of the research will consist of case studies of different mainland Chinese environmental NGOs to understand exactly what kind of internet technology they are using and for what specific purposes.

Allyson Edwards

Start date:
October 2016
Research Topic:
Militarism in Post Soviet Russia from 1990 to 2000
Research Supervisor:
Prof Michael Sheehan and Dr Eugene Miakinkov
Supervising school:
College of Arts and Humanities,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

This project aims to examine the societal connections to the military during the Yeltsin regime. It will use the family unit as a case study, investigating to what extent gender roles and perceptions of masculinity within the household were transformed by society’s portrayal of masculinity and the military.

Nicholas James Griffin

Nicholas Griffin
Start date:
October 2012
Research Topic:
The Challenges of Building State Capacity in Ukraine
Research Supervisor:
Professor Alistair Cole, Professor Kenneth Dyson, Dr Ian Stafford
Supervising school:
School of Modern Languages,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

This research investigates the building of Ukrainian state capacity by determining the causal mechanisms that have shaped the capacity of the Ukrainian state. Using the case of Ukraine, this study will shed light on the challenges of building state capacity in the post-Soviet space. It is my hope that this examination of state capacity will offer a new angle in the Ukrainian state-building literature by providing an empirical contribution that elucidates the successful programmes and reforms that have increased the capacity of the Ukrainian state, as well as highlighting the factors that have been inhibiting its progress.

This thesis uses Besley and Persson’s (2011: 6) definition of ‘state-capacity’ as “the institutional capability of the state to carry out various policies that deliver benefits and services to households and firms”. In its simplest denotation, state-capacity is considered to consist of two combined complementary capabilities; the state’s extractive role as a tax collector and its productive role as the provider of public services, such as transportation, networks, local governance, and courts (Besley and Persson, 2011; Dincecco and Katz, 2012). In order to succinctly focus this research, Ukrainian state capacity is being critically assessed via empirical case studies of two central capacity-building components: fiscal capacity-building and territorial capacity-building.

The fiscal capacity-building case study investigates the role of endogenous and exogenous drivers (including international financial institutions, the EU and Russia) in fiscal and corporate governance reforms, as well as the sovereign debt restructuring after the Ukrainian sovereign debt defaults. This includes looking at how international financial institutions are working with the Ukrainian government, the National Bank of Ukraine, and other financial regulators to strengthen the policy and regulatory role of the state in the financial sector, while consolidating state ownership of financial institutions. One hopes to assess whether IFI involvement has helped to increase Ukrainian fiscal capacity, and if not, what factors have been impeding its progress. Furthermore, this case study also examines whether Russia been an enabling or constraining factor on Ukrainian state capacity. In addition to Ukrainian state governments, this case study examines the role of the Ukrainian National Bank in building fiscal capacity. In order to do this, the networks of power in the Ukrainian banking system are taken into consideration.

The territorial capacity-building case study assesses Ukrainian territorial-administrative reforms and whether negotiations with international financial institutions have contained a territorial dimension. This includes assessing whether conditionality requirements in negotiations with IFIs have favoured centralisation. One therefore hopes to determine whether there is a direct link between Ukraine’s fiscal and territorial capacities. To what degree can territorial governments can be said to have stand-alone capacity if the national government does not? Principally however, this case study looks at what has impeded the building of territorial capacity and why there has been little meaningful change to Ukraine’s outdated Soviet model of territorial administration. Factors such as the lack of ethnic/linguistic homogeneity, institutional weaknesses, and political instability are being analysed to see how they have shaped Ukrainian territorial governance.

Jamie Jon Lemon

Jamie Lemon
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Orientalism in French Academia concerning the causes of the Arab Spring
Research Supervisor:
Mr Robert Bideleux & Prof Gordon Cumming
Supervising school:
College of Arts and Humanities,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My thesis will examine the ways in which French Academics have covered and explained the causes of the Arab Spring in North Africa. I will show that whilst some opinions have changed regarding the viability of democracy and civil society in North Africa, the basic Orientalist and Eurocentric suppositions remain. Firstly, I will conduct an analysis of how academic institutions and regimes perpetuate existing paradigms. This will include an analysis of the funding systems, relations between the academic world and the political, as well as giving examples of how French academics treat ‘indigenous’ objects and subjects in North Africa. Secondly, I will conduct a discourse analysis of writing produced by academics within a certain group ( the make-up of the group as of yet undecided) for examples of meta-narratives which conform to an Orientalist or Eurocentric world-views.

Valeria Tolis

Valeria Tolis
Start date:
October 2016
Research Topic:
The role of the EU in the formation of the Paris Agreement on climate change
Research Supervisor:
Dr Hannah Hughes Prof Fabio Vighi
Supervising school:
School of Law and Politics,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

The fight against climate change can be a complex object of research that is commonly understood in terms of two related concepts of mitigation and adaptation, in a interplay of actors and institutions ranging from the global to the local. My research project aims at providing an understanding of the EU role in the Paris agreement on climate change. It suggests adopting a poststructuralist theoretical/methodological framework along three lines of enquiry which all share the perspective of the co-constitution of discourses and practices. In this respect, my project aims to analyse how the EU is actively engaged with mitigation within the ʻnew chapterʼ of the global climate regime, represented by the Paris agreement. Accordingly, a second and related key question aims to gain an understanding of what is the ʻEU” in relation to the negotiation of international climate politics. Consistently with a postrstructuralist perspective, therefore, it also aims at problematising the EU identity and subject positions by taking into account the mutual co-constitution (discursive and material) of global regime and internal climate policy. Finally, it attempts to assess whether the Paris agreement can represent a turning point with regard to the role of EU.

Owen Williams

Owen Williams
Start date:
October 2016
Research Topic:
Epistemic Communities as the logic for Multi Level Governance
Research Supervisor:
Dr Dion Curry
Supervising school:
College of Arts and Humanities,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

The aim of my study is to unite two influential strands of political theory by investigating the role of epistemic communities in forming the guiding rationale for systems of multi-level governance.

This will inform a subsequent determination of the relationship between epistemic communities and perceptions of legitimacy of governmental policies within bilingual territories.

Case studies from the low carbon energy policy sectors of bilingually-variant Canadian provinces and from Wales will constitute the foundation of the research.

It is hoped that this study will contribute to the effort to foster closer collaboration between the academic-scientific community and policymakers and will inform methods of utilising expert knowledge to enhance policy legitimacy.

Area Studies is an interdisciplinary field pertaining to particular geographical, national/federal, or cultural regions. It brings together languages, politics, history, sociology, development studies, ethnography, applied translation/linguistics and cultural studies within its study of particular continents, countries and regions. The area base is key, allowing for the study of common/converging traits facing countries as well as the analysis of clusters of countries. The Language base is equally vital: credibility in research in any field assumes the ability to interact in the relevant languages.

Students on the Global Language-Based Area Studies pathway have access to vibrant research environments with seminar series involving Modern Languages and Politics staff via the European Governance, Identity, Public Policy (EGIPP) research group, which is co-directed by Politics and Languages; the Conflict, Development and Disaster cluster in Modern Languages (which works closely with Politics at Cardiff and with colleagues in Swansea) and the International Studies research unit (also in Politics in Cardiff with participation from Languages).  The pathway thus draws upon two areas of research that the 2014 Research Excellence Framework confirmed to be of the highest quality.

The pathway offers extensive opportunities for languages training.  Students on the ‘1+3’ route complete a specialist module either in Issues in International Relations or European Governance and Public Policy as part of the interdisciplinary Social Science Research Methods Masters programme, whilst developing a breadth of knowledge, understanding and skills. Beyond the Masters, and for students joining the pathway as ‘+3’ candidates, there are subject-specific M-level courses available, such as Research Methods: Approaches to Knowledge, as well as mixed methods training in comparative analysis (via the Wales Institute for Social and Economic Research, Data & Methods – WISERD). This is on top of specific training events: regular Research Methods Cafes, conference and presentation training, as well as discipline-specific papers and roundtables.